My Autobiography

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My Autobiography

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“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

The Barnes & Noble Review

Do principal players in history owe those who follow a privileged view of the momentous events they lived through? A question worth pondering, particularly when reading the newly reprinted 1964 autobiography of Charlie Chaplin. If ever there was a figure whose recollections and insights could reveal the behind-the-scenes machinations that brought about the initial explosion of cinema it was Chaplin, a stupefyingly brilliant actor, writer, producer, composer, and director whose seminal Hollywood films made him an international superstar of colossal proportions. Despite an Olympian sweep of the burgeoning art form and business rivaled by few others, Chaplin, by the time he set pen to paper as a septuagenarian, obviously had deep reservations about sharing the vista with mere mortals.

In a fascinating psychological twist, Chaplin is most forthcoming when documenting his heartbreaking childhood and grueling adolescence in turn-of-the century London; here lie the kind of brutal memories that may have stayed carefully guarded, if not outright repressed secrets for others. Not for Chaplin, though, who masterfully narrates a youth of Dickensian dimensions, including abject poverty, a drunken, absent father, a loving mother literally going mad, life on the streets, even a stay in the workhouse. It's horrible and wrenching, and Chaplin goes to the races with it all, turning tragedy into gripping drama. These pages crackle with emotion, poetry, and raw feeling. By the time Chaplin has found his footing as a comic and later makes his initial visit to the U.S. with a British touring company, the reader is in his grips, downright hungry for his recounting of the rags-to- riches payoff just around the corner. Chaplin then abruptly closes the door to the banquet room.

Suddenly a new, oddly myopic author takes over the narrative, one seemingly uninterested in providing details about the origins and inspiration behind his comedic persona or an insider's take on his groundbreaking films; unwilling to acknowledge many of his invaluable collaborators; largely mute on the fecund creative environment that was Hollywood in the teens and twenties; and, most surprisingly, barely reflective when considering the seismic shift in status granted him as he evolved, in a relatively brief period of time, from an unknown knockabout comedian to the most successful entertainer the world had yet seen. Chaplin's omissions quickly become as maddening as they are inexplicable.

Celebrities elbow through the pages: H. G. Wells, Stravinsky, Cocteau, Hart Crane, James Agee, Picasso, and a whole slew of fellow geniuses (Einstein!) crowd around the Little Tramp, who acknowledges each, if they are lucky, with little more than a random anecdote replete with an autodidact's conspicuous delight in ten-cent words. And while Chaplin makes sure we know what a ladies' man he was, he blithely ignores his shocking predilections for underage conquests. (His final wife, Oona O'Neill, Eugene's daughter, was eighteen when she married the fifty-four-year-old Chaplin.)

The great man may be all too willing to discuss his vaguely socialist political leanings and the ruinous consequences that ensued after he publicly stated them. During the McCarthy Red Scare era, Chaplin, having left the country for travel, was shamefully restricted from reentering the United States and lived the final two decades of his life in self-exile in Switzerland. Yet Chaplin's self-righteous authorial voice diminishes even this grand American tragedy. Read the riveting early chapters of this frustrating memoir up until Chaplin is peering out on an ocean of unimaginable, upcoming success. Then turn to his films for a true taste of his embracing humanity and ageless genius.

Steve Futterman writes the "Jazz and Standards" listings for The New Yorker.

Reviewer: Steve Futterman

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781612191928
  • Publisher: Melville House Publishing
  • Publication date: 12/26/2012
  • Series: Neversink Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 10, 2013

    It's hard to give this 5 stars simply because it's Charlie Chapl

    It's hard to give this 5 stars simply because it's Charlie Chaplin....but the fact is, this isn't great. Maybe it's because Mr. Chaplin, by his own admission (over and over) was practically illiterate up to the age of about 15 or he just really, REALLY wants to impress the reader, either way this book is nothing more than a name dropping, congratulatory slap on the back...all mixed in with $100 words. It's page after page of, "I got a call from (insert someone famous's name) we met for lunch, he was nice. I was nervous...later depressed..and then they killed them self." All this using words like, "soubrette, braggadocio, drudges, dolorous, remuneration ,doleful, propinquity, solipsism,etc"

    If you are looking for information on how or why he made the movies he did, you'll be disappointed as Mr. Chaplin only wrote about how much money they cost, how much he money he made, and how he would listen to everyone laugh...and that made him feel good, but inevitably his antisocial mind would kick in and then he just wanted to be left alone.  His family, wives and brother, are secondary and are barely mentioned or discussed. This whole book is one man trying to convince someone (you) that he's not a communist and that all Americans treated him wrong...although he didn't mind us while he was making money. And the constant name dropping...ugh.

    This book reads like someone who is trying to convince people he's smarter than he thinks people think. If you ever wondered why Charlie Chaplin movies are only funny when he's not talking, this book shows why that was true.

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2001

    Dear Ol' Charlie Chaplin

    Charles Chaplin was born in 1889, in London - the son of struggling variety artists - his father, a vaudvillian who died young; his mother, a spirited music-hall soubrette who lost her voice and, eventually, her reason. His childhood was pure Dickons - in and out of the workhouse, then a hand-to-mouth existence as a juvenile actor. At 21, member of a traveling music-hall company, he came to America. And the infant movie industry stumbled upon the greatest star it was to ever find. Everything in his autobiography makes fascinating reading: his boyhood; the London theatre of Dion Boucicault and William Gillette; the early free-wheeling days of the movies; how he evolved his style, his plots; how he chose his leading ladies; his sudden, dazzling success; his encounters with great stars and world figures from Mary Pickford to Gandhi to Bernard Shaw to Gertrude Stein to Anna Pavlova to FDR; his emotional involvements and his four marriages. He sets it all down in extraordinary detail and in a manner intensely personal. He describes how suddenly, 'the tramp' was born... 'I was in my street clothes and had nothing to do, so I stood where Sennett could see me.. 'We ned some gags here,' he said, then turned to me. 'Put on a comedy make-up, anything will do.' I had no idea what make-up to put on... However, on the was to the wardrobe, I thought I would dress in baggy pants, big shoes, a cane and a derby hat...I had no idea of the character. But the moment I was dressed, the clothes and the make-up made me feel the person he was... When I entered [the hotel lobby set] I felt I was an imposter posing as one of the guests, but in reality I was a tramp just wanting a little shelter. I enetered and stumbled over the foot of a lady. I turned and raised my hat apologetically, then turned and stumbled over a cuspidor, then turned and raised my hat to the cuspidor. Behind the camera they began to laugh...' The great Hollywood days are recreated as never before.He speaks with candor of the stormy postwar years - the humiliations of the paternity suit brought against him on the eve of his marriage to Oona O'Neill, and the political accusations that made him decide to leave the United States. And in the finale he writes with evocative warmth of the happy ending - his serene, idyllic life in Switzerland with Oona and their eight children. Charlie Chaplin's autobiography will move you, just as it moved me.

    5 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 22, 2009

    this book is good for research!

    I love this book!

    3 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2014

    Most worthwhile read!

    Although he places a bit too much emphasis on naming the famous people who intersected with his life, the book gave a clear understanding of the man. Although chastised in his later life politically, he suffered unreasonably by the overly anti-communist stance of the time. Although I have always been fairly conservative, the McCarthy era went way overboard! I recommend this book to anyone!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2000

    Charlie Chaplin strikes again!

    This book was outstanding. You would never guess how hard his life was! Go Broncos!

    2 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2014

    Plot spoilers

    Well another book useless to buy because of plot spoilers telling everthing including the ending. Come on bn, when are you going to put a stop to these plot spoilers and ban them.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2014

    Percys bio

    Name: Look!!, Age: 17 (book), Wears: Camp half blood shirt and jeans, Wepons: Riptide that transforms into a Broze sword, Girl friend: Annabeth Chase, Likes: Sword fightning, God parent: Posiedon, Uncles: Hades And Zeus, Siblings: Tyson, and Dash, Mother: Salliy(typo), Cosins: Jason, Maria, Thilia, and Nico di Angolis, Bianca Di angolis, and likes: Sword fightning

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2014

    DJ $pirit's Bio ||| Version 1.0 |||

    DJ $pirit's Bio ||| Version 1.0 ||| <p> Name: Look up. Sometimes I wonder what gous through your head. <br> Age: DJ Pon 3's age <br> Gender: &female or Mare <br> Species: Alicorn <br> Coat: Rainbowdash Blue <br> Mane & Tail: DJ Pon 3 style, Red & Blue <br> Eyes: Icy Blue, DJ Pon 3 style, but wears sunasses like DJ Pon 3 <br> Cutie Mark: A Sterio and Pair of Flips Headphones <br> Personality: Mix of Rainbowdash & DJ Pon 3 <br> Symbol: &#28949 <br> Pet: A rattlesnale named Scales <br> Theme Song(s): I Can't Decide and Happy <br> Friends: Firework and Luna <br> Element: Music <br> House: Is Firework's roomie <br> History: (in flutterguy voice) I don't wanna talk about it... <br> Other: Just ask!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2014

    Darkmoon's Biography

    Name: <br> Darkmoon. <p> Clans: <br> BloodClan, Bonekit, & AshClan. <p> Gender: <br> &female <p> Age: <br> 18 Moons. <p> Looks: <br> Beautiful Dark Silver pelt, Dark & Deep Indigo eyes. <p> Kin; <br> Creator 1: The Moon-Flower. <br> Creator 2: The Darkness. <p> Kits: <br> Ragekit, Soulkit, Bonekit, & Ravenkit. <p> Crush: <br> Raven or Bloodlust. <p> Mate: <br> None. <p> History: <br> ... <p> Other: <br> Got forcemated by DeathScar.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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