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Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles during the speaking tour in October 1942.

Charles Chaplin: The SIMPP Years

Excerpt from Hollywood Renegades

By J. A. Aberdeen


During the late 1940s, Charlie Chaplin had his reputation tarnished by public misconception. Chaplin's problems were mostly political, and began when he and Orson Welles were on a speaking tour together during World War II to cultivate support for the Allies on the Russian front. Chaplin's exuberance raised suspicions in the press which falsely branding the filmmaker as a communist sympathizer. The emotionally-charged political atmosphere agitated the controversy, and was one of the contributing factors to Chaplin's long hiatus from film production following The Great Dictator (1940). He was also sidetracked by a paternity suit that languished in court, even after his innocence was proved by a blood test administered by none other than SIMPP's Loyd Wright.

Original poster from the infamous Carnegie Hall incident - October 16, 1942.

Chaplin selected Monsieur Verdoux (1947) as his next project, a black comedy based on an idea developed by Orson Welles. The film was poorly-received when it was released in April 1947, adding to the anti-Chaplin antagonism that marked his decline as an influential filmmaker. He resigned from SIMPP later that year.

In 1952 when he traveled to Great Britain to promote his next film Limelight, the Immigration and Naturalization Service barred Chaplin's return to the United States. Mary Pickford and Samuel Goldwyn came to his defense by offering indignant public statements against the government. Instead, Charlie Chaplin and family took seclusion in Switzerland. He sold his Hollywood studio property on Sunset Boulevard and La Brea Avenue in 1953.

Anticipating further difficulties with the United States government, he hastily sold his shares in United Artists to the new owners Krim and Benjamin in February 1955 for only $1.2 million. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1975, and died on Christmas Day two years later.

 

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SOURCES:

The Chaplin-Welles lecture tour: "Artists Front to Win the War," advertisement for the Carnegie Hall "Win the War Meeting" on October 16, 1942.
Chaplin defended by Pickford and Goldwyn: McCabe, Charlie Chaplin, p. 223.
Chaplin sale of UA stock: see Balio, United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry, p. 82-83.

See Bibliography.

 

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