Celebrating Charlie Chaplin

My first introduction to Charlie Chaplin was in high school. I had selected Chaplin’s autobiography, Chaplin, for a book report, and was immediately hooked on his films, and the silent movie era. Critics said he name-dropped too much, but I loved the book anyway. I’ve only seen “Limelight” all the way through. “City Lights” comes next, and the three that I own, and more. Knowing how much I love the movies, a friend gave me life-size posters of Chaplin as the Little Tramp, Humphrey Bogart, and Clark Gable for my room in college, which was actually pretty cool. I kept them until they were worn out and almost torn up. I even found someone who understood at college–the AV guy, who also loved Charlie Chaplin films.

These days, whenever I hear anything about Charlie Chaplin’s life, my antennae go up. That’s how I discovered Glen David Gold’s novel Sunnyside, where Chaplin appears as a character. And on April 16, 2011, Google celebrated the anniversary of his birthday with this short film:

One thing I didn’t know until recently was that Charlie Chaplin wrote the music for “Smile,” which he used in the 1936 film Modern Times. Other people wrote the lyrics.

My aunt sang this to me occasionally when I was in a bad mood. (She still does.) That’s why I’m reproducing the lyrics here, along with the movie clip.

Smile though your heart is aching

Smile even though it’s breaking.

When there are clouds in the sky

you’ll get by.

If you smile through your pain and sorrow

Smile and maybe tomorrow

You’ll see the sun come shining through

For you.

Light up your face with gladness,

Hide every trace of sadness.

Although a tear may be ever so near

That’s the time you must keep on trying

Smile, what’s the use of crying.

You’ll find that life is still worthwhile-

If you just smile.

I also like this quote from Charlie Chaplin, and take comfort and inspiration from it:

“Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself.”

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