Today in history

I’m an individualist and I believe in liberty.

Charles Chaplin

New Picture

Galileo Galilei

Highs and lows for this date in human history …

  • 72 years ago Nazi-controlled Vichy France made religious education mandatory in schools
  • Grand Teton National Park in the United States was established in 1929
  • Acadia National Park and Grand Canyon National Park were created in the United States in 1919
  • Mutual signed Charlie Chaplin to a film contract (1916)
  • In 1848 Marx and Engels published the Communist Manifesto
  • In 1616 the Spanish Inquisition delivered its injunction to Galileo, having found the theory that the earth and other planets revolved around the sun to be foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts in many places the sense of Holy Scriptures.

Limelight

In 1936 Chaplin’s Modern Times was criticized by some as an attack on capitalism, perhaps because Chaplin supported Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. Chaplin’s 1940 film The Great Dictator, a parody of Adolf Hitler, Mussolini and fascism, created suspicion in the FBI that he was slipping communist propaganda into his films. Only until after England had gone to war with Germany could the anti-Hitler picture be shown. During World War II Chaplin helped raise support for Russia during its battle against Nazi Germany. The opening of a second front – which conservatives did not support – later proved decisive in the war as German supply resources were exhausted due to having to fight on two fronts.

In 1943 the 54-year-old Chaplin married 18-year-old Oona O’Neill, over her playwright father’s objections. Their marriage lasted until Chaplin’s death in 1977 and they had eight children.

An anti-racist and self-professed “peacemonger,” Chaplin had as friends Upton Sinclair, H. G. Wells, Albert Einstein and Harold Laski.

Chaplin, a British citizen, angered J. Edgar Hoover, then director of the FBI, when he canceled scheduled appearances at the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1947, appearances which the government subsequently decided not to require. Representative John E. Rankin (Republican-Mississippi) said:

I am here today demanding that Attorney-General Tom Clark institute proceedings to deport Charlie Chaplin. He has refused to become an American citizen. His very life in Hollywood is detrimental to the moral fabric of America. In that way he can be kept off the American screen, and his loathsome pictures can be kept from before the eyes of the American youth. He should be deported and gotten rid of at once.

In October of 1952 Chaplin went with his family to London for the world premiere of Limelight, the early scenes of which were set in that city. The United States government, suspicious of Communist sympathies, made it difficult for Chaplin to obtain a permit to re-enter the U.S, but finally gave him one, only to revoke it while the family was in England.

Outside of a few cinemas on the U.S. East Coast, Limelight was not seen as many American theaters refused it. Twenty years later the film had wide distribution in the United States, culminating in an Academy Award for Chaplin, Ray Rasch, and Larry Russell for Best Music, Original Dramatic Score.

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