Charlie Chaplin’s Mysterious Early Life Spies Could Not Crack

The British intelligence agency, MI5, has been able to uncover the trickiest of codes and most clandestine assassination plots, yet they’re could not find out where Charlie Chaplin was born. According to the Associated Press, the British National Archives released newly declassified files on Friday. During their investigation there were no records of Chaplin’s birth in London on April 16, 1889. Initially in 1952 MI5 was ordered to investigate his life due to possible communist ties requested from American authorities, most notably the FBI.

This was at a time during the McCarthy era when communist fears were at an all-time high. Many entertainers and industry insiders were being blacklisted from working in Hollywood for their liberal views. In Chaplin’s case the U.S. government wanted to ban Chaplin from entering the country, which they successfully achieved, states Reuters. Reports were made that Chaplin was sympathetic to communism, even donating money to the Communist Party, yet his films oftentimes were satirical of oppressive dictators and political parties.

In February 2011 a letter was found in a locked desk belonging to Chaplin. This letter was sent by a man named Jack Hill, states Yahoo News UK. Inside its contents read: “”You were born on the Black Patch in Smethwick near Birmingham.” It also went on stating the actor was born in a caravan that belonged to the Gypsy Queen. His book “My Autobiography” he proudly talked about his paternal grandmother being from a Roma background. She was half-Gypsy and it was a skeleton in their family cupboard. Gypsies were heavily persecuted during World War II. Aside from that, they suffered persecution throughout Europe and in England with strict laws against their dress, language and other customs.

Film historian Matthew Sweet, reports AP, the letter is not proof of Chaplin being born amongst the gypsies. It was likely the letter contained an idea for a future story he happened to keep under lock and key. Most people accept the idea he was born in London in 1889 where no public birth records were kept as strict as they are today. Chaplin certainly created an air of mystery about him where it was also rumored he was born in France or went by the name of Israel Thornstein or his family had to flee Russia during the pogroms. That is why Charlie Chaplin has remained so popular, because he’s a challenge to try and figure out.

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