Chaplin Returns to England
On September 23 1952 Charlie Chaplin and wife Oona, arrived at Southampton on board the Queen Elizabeth, then travelled by train to Waterloo . Chaplin, born in Walworth in 1889, was greeted by cheering crowds at both termini, and at the Savoy where he was staying. The trip had been intended as a brief tour to take part in a charity benefit and attend a Leicester Square premiere of his latest film; in fact he was unable to return to America until 1972.
Regarded by many as the greatest genius of the silent movie era, Charlie Chaplin used his multiple talents as actor, director, producer, writer and often composer to entertain the world. But he also had leftist sympathies that were seen in his portrayal of the poor tramp fighting authority, and to most brilliant effect in The Great Dictator. Such liberal leanings meant FBI head J. Edgar Hoover wanted to rid the USA of the English immigrant Chaplin.
To be fair to the vile Hoover Chaplin’s penchant for women far younger than him – he twice married 16-year-olds then pushed the envelope by marrying 18-year-old Oona O’Neill when he was 54 - had also caused much controversy during the actor’s time in Hollywood. Thus when Chaplin left the USA to promote his 1951 movie Limelight, having apparently obtained assurance he would be allowed to return to America, the authorities blocked his re-entry. British officialdom shared some similar concerns, delaying a knighthood for the actor until 1975, though his decision to reside in Switzerland may also have told against him.
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