First St. Joseph's Hospital, Chatham, Ontario
Both Chaplin and Hitler were born in April 1889. Chaplin’s mother, was a singer, a soubrette, a mender of old clothes. She was incarcerated in asylums, put in a padded cell and given shock treatments. All the flower-sellers and wistful prostitutes in Chaplin’s films represent the doomed love he’d experienced as a child. His father died of drink. Chaplin was despatched to the Southwark workhouse, then to a school for orphans. Vladimir Lenin said that ‘Chaplin is the only man in the world I want to meet.’ Chaplin stayed with Churchill at Chartwell and at Nancy Astor’s house. He met Bernard Shaw and Keynes. H.G. Hitler watched Сhaplin’s The Great Dictator at a private screening — twice. Both were short and sported an identical mustache. Each man ‘appealing to millions of people with an almost mesmeric magic’. His assistant director called him a ‘tyrannical, wounding, authoritative, mean, despotic man’. ‘The violence of his anger was always so out of proportion to the object that had stirred him that I couldn’t help being frightened of it,’ said one of his sons. Offered numerous prizes and awards, he once said: ‘I don’t think you are qualified to judge my work,’ returning a trophy. His political beliefs were branded as a communist. His sexual scandals upset morality. In 1952, his re-entry visa to the United States was rescinded, so he moved to a villa in Switzerland. He died on Christmas day 1977. His coffin was stolen by grave robbers, who phoned one of his wives and the co-star of The Gold Rush, hoping they could make a ransom demand. ‘We’ve got Chaplin,’ they announced. ‘So what?’ she said, slamming down the phone.