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Charlie Chaplin: My Autobiography Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1995

153 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“The best autobiography ever written by an actor. An astonishing work.” Chicago Tribune

“A moving picture of the hero himself. A truly fascinating book.”
The New York Times Book Review

“The most original, virile book about the theater in a long, long time.”
Atlantic Monthly

“It holds the reader entranced. Every page can be read with pleasure.”The Times (London)

“The crucial artist of the twentieth century.” The New Yorker

“Among the greatest geniuses of film.” —Roger Ebert

“Few men in this century in any field attained his stature with the public.” The New York Times

“Chaplin was not just ‘big,’ he was gigantic. In 1915, he burst onto a war-torn world bringing it the gift of comedy, laughter and relief while it was tearing itself apart through World War I. Over the next 25 years, through the Great Depression and the rise of Adolf Hitler, he stayed on the job. . . It is doubtful any individual has ever given more entertainment, pleasure and relief to so many human beings when they needed it the most.” —Martin Sieff

“For me, comedy begins with Charlie Chaplin. I know there were screen comedies before he came along . . . But none of them created a persona as unique or indelible as the Little Tramp, and no one could match his worldwide impact.” —Leonard Maltin

“For a star who made his fortune in the silent movies, Charlie Chaplin has a surprising way with words. His My Autobiography, published in 1964 and recently reissued, moves along at a quick clip, lit up throughout its many pages by bright anecdotes, easy humor, and a confident way with a good yarn.” Biographile --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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12 1.5-hour cassettes --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 493 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (December 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452270782
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452270787
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,121,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Archie Mercer VINE VOICE on April 1, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I originally read this book back in the early 1970's when I was a teen-ager. Recently I found it at my Dad's house and had the great pleasure of re-reading it. As with any autobiography there is a certain amount of self-promotion and justification, however this book really keeps it to a minimum. The period covered is from birth until his expulsion from the United States, and gives great insight on the early years of Hollywood, including his formation of United Artists with Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. If you're a fan of "the Tramp" then I highly recommend this book. If you're not a fan but looking for a great true-to-life story, I would still recommend it as well.
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Umesh Vyas on August 2, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Chaplin is Chaplin. This is enough to make his autobiography interesting. It is his honesty and sensitivity and attempts to be in touch with himself at various points of his life that makes this book remarkable. And it is through sharing his inadequacies and traumas that the comic tramp makes me cry.

This book is invaluable in getting an insight into early days of Hollywood. It also provides a great account of Charlie's life and struggles. So the learning is tremendous.

However, the best part of the book is its humanness - fallible, confused, hesitant, and shy and yet successful, rich, adored, and mobbed by fans.

What struck my heart is the loneliness in the midst of a celebrity status and Charlie's ability to get in touch with it and share it.

What is also moving is his trauma during the McCarthy era and his eventual 'reverse migration' to Europe.

Even JFK could not get him back.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Snorre Smari Mathiesen on November 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
Despite all the exquisite books that have been devoted to Charlie Chaplin through the years, the comedian's own account of his life remains vital to anyone interested in his life and work. In fact, it seems to me that the relevance of MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY increases as every new book is written, as every Chaplin-biographer since has relied so heavily on the vast number of unique recollections provided in this book. Thus to not recognize it in its entirety would likely result in an unbalanced view of the man. First published in 1964, Chaplin had made all but one of his films at this point, being well into his seventies, and presumably felt ready to tell his life story as he recalled it.

It seems to be the general standpoint that the first twelve or so out of the twenty-nine chapters are the most fascinating. Born in London in 1889, Chaplin's recollections of the late Victorian era, as seen through the eyes of someone who suffered a confused and insecure childhood, are often heartwrenching. Although Chaplin's early years are told in retrospect, half a century after he became one of the richest and most celebrated personalities of his time, one senses through his writing that feelings of desperation and inferiority never quite left him. I constantly found myself imagine not Chaplin the man, but Charlie the boy telling me his story as though it happened yesterday. His first spontaneous appearance on the stage at five, the constant struggle to make both ends meet, his mother's first and subsequent transmissions to mental asylums, the death of his alcoholic father, his first experience with love, his rise from a child dancer to a major music hall comedian, which led to his first movie contract while on tour in the States; it is all here, told through a vast amount of anecdotes.
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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful By JMack VINE VOICE on December 22, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
While the movie Chaplin is very well done, no person can tell a story like they can tell there own. Based on this, I chose to read the book written by the cinematic legend himself. While there are some discrepencies between the book and movie, books have an ability to make details evident that movies can not make evident.

The book spends a considerable amount of time in his early life. Chaplin struggled with a rarely present father and a mentally ill mother. It was through this poverty that he followed the chosen career path of his parents in the theatre. The theatre would would lead him to America where he would begin working in the new film industry. Through this industry he made classic films that continue to influence modern cinema despite their age. When Chaplin made a film, it had something to say. It was art that spoke to the human soul with humor, love, and hope. His films were not merely a way to make money.

Aside from his work in films, Chaplin was a humanitarian. He supported America in times of war depite not being a citizen. Chaplin never forgot his roots, making him empathetic to the needs of the less fortunate. This trait led to the revoking of his residency when he spoke of openly of opening a second front in Russia during World War II. It was through this stance that he was labeled a "communist". In spite of these attacks led by J. Edgar Hoover, Chaplin rarely mentions Hoover in his book. Nor does he harbor ill will toward America. It is a travesty that this film legend and humanitarian was treated so poorly by the American government in his later years.

The book ends shortly after Chaplin has settled in to his new life in Switzerland. With his new life, Chaplin has a positive outlook. One has to wonder what might have been if Chaplin finished his life in America. Surely he was capable of creating more great work. However, sometimes a man's greatest work and pleasure is his family.
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