Charlie Chaplin's Exile: Scandal, Controversy, And Political Persecution Revealed In New Tell-All Book

Written By BlabberBuzz | Saturday, 04 November 2023 16:30
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Charlie Chaplin, the iconic silent movie star, faced a tumultuous period in his life when he left America for the U.K. in 1952 to promote his film "Limelight."

His reentry papers were revoked, effectively exiling him from his home country. This pivotal period in Chaplin's life, along with his subsequent years in Switzerland, is the focus of Scott Eyman's new book, "Charlie Chaplin vs. America: When Art, Sex, and Politics Collided." Eyman's book delves into Chaplin's fall from grace and sheds light on his final years before his death in 1977 at the age of 88.

Eyman, in an interview with Fox News Digital, explained the motivation behind his book: "Writing about Charlie Chaplin is like writing about Winston Churchill — there are dozens of books about him. But what hasn’t been closely examined was probably the most crucial period of his life when his reentry permit was yanked by the United States, and he was essentially a man without a country."

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Eyman conducted extensive research for his book, including interviews with Chaplin's son Sydney, daughter Geraldine, and Chaplin's assistant. He discovered that Chaplin was a self-contained individual with a small social circle. He had very few intimate friends, with actor Douglas Fairbanks Sr. being his closest companion until Fairbanks' death in 1939.

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Chaplin did not actively seek to replace Fairbanks and instead surrounded himself with long-term employees. Eyman noted that having a job with Chaplin often meant having a job for a lifetime. While Chaplin had a small circle of acquaintances, he preferred entertaining in social situations rather than spending time with people.

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Eyman emphasized the significance of Chaplin's relationship with his wife, Oona, describing her as his soulmate. Throughout his life, Chaplin's relationships with women made headlines in gossip columns. His first two wives were under the age of 18, which was the legal age of consent in California at the time.

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The press portrayed Chaplin as a loose degenerate, a perception that was further exacerbated by his prematurely gray hair, which made him appear older than his actual age. However, Eyman clarified that Chaplin was not exclusively attracted to young girls and had age-appropriate relationships as well.

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Chaplin's personal life was marked by multiple marriages. His first wife, Mildred Harris, married him in 1918 after claiming to be pregnant, which put Chaplin at risk of imprisonment. The marriage ended in 1920 due to Harris' alleged affair. His second wife, Lita Grey, was hired to play his leading lady in "The Gold Rush" when she was under 16 years old. They married in 1924 after Grey claimed to be pregnant, but the marriage ended in 1927. The divorce was highly publicized, with Grey accusing Chaplin of various offenses, including seduction of a minor and adultery.

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During the divorce proceedings, Grey's complaint detailed Chaplin's alleged solicitation of immoral acts to satisfy his abnormal sexual desires. The scandal led to the suspension of Chaplin's film production and a subsequent nervous breakdown. The divorce settlement cost Chaplin $950,000, making it the largest divorce settlement in California history at the time. Despite the turmoil, Chaplin later stated that he loved all the women in his life except for Grey.

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Eyman's book also explores Chaplin's relationship with actress Paulette Goddard, whom he married in 1936. According to the book, Goddard made Chaplin happier than any other woman had at that time. However, their relationship ended in 1941 when Chaplin became involved with 21-year-old Joan Berry, also known as "Joan Barry." Chaplin described his interest in recreational sex when not consumed by his obsessive-compulsive work mode. The relationship with Berry was tumultuous, and she accused Chaplin of having an affair with J. Paul Getty, an oil magnate.

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The book recounts an incident where Berry allegedly showed up at Chaplin's house with a gun, intending to kill herself. Berry claimed that they later had sex, but Chaplin denied the allegation, citing the presence of his sons and a clearly unbalanced woman wielding a gun. The relationship lasted for about a year, during which Berry claimed to be pregnant with Chaplin's child.

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However, Chaplin determined that he could not have been the father. Berry's paternity suit against Chaplin resulted in a trial where he was found innocent of transporting a woman across state lines for immoral purposes. Despite the blood test proving his innocence, Chaplin was still required to pay child support for a child that was not his. Berry was later hospitalized for mental and emotional conditions and lived a quiet life until her death in 2007.

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During the trial, Chaplin married 18-year-old Oona O'Neil, and their union lasted until his death. Eyman described their relationship as one of absolute acceptance and devotion. Oona provided Chaplin with the happiness he had sought throughout his life. Even after Chaplin's death, Oona remained deeply attached to him, as evidenced by her carrying one of his gloves on a plane years later.

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In addition to his personal life, Chaplin's political outspokenness made him a target of the U.S. government. He was condemned for his alleged Communist ties and faced investigations by various agencies, including the FBI, CIA, Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the House Un-American Activities Committee.

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Despite the scrutiny, Chaplin was never a member of the Communist Party. He held himself aloof from conventional displays of patriotism, believing that nationalism and national pride were potentially lethal. However, he also expressed his willingness to defend America if it were ever invaded.

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Eyman's book aims to present Chaplin as a complex figure in Hollywood history. Chaplin's stubbornness and uncompromising approach to his art complicated his life, but he left behind a legacy of great films that continue to captivate audiences.

Through "Charlie Chaplin vs. America: When Art, Sex, and Politics Collided," Eyman sheds light on the lesser-known aspects of Chaplin's life, particularly his exile from the United States and his final years in Switzerland.

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