Sydney Chaplin (American actor)

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Sydney Chaplin
Sydney Earl Chaplin.jpg
Born Sydney Earl Chaplin
(1926-03-30)March 30, 1926
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Died March 3, 2009(2009-03-03) (aged 82)
Rancho Mirage, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1952–1977
Noëlle Adam
(m. 1960; div. 1985)

Margaret Beebe
(m. 1998; his death 2009)
Children 1
Parent(s) Charlie Chaplin
Lita Grey
Relatives See Chaplin family

Sydney Earl Chaplin (March 30, 1926 – March 3, 2009) was an American actor. He was the second son of Charlie Chaplin and Lita Grey. One of his major roles was his father's film Limelight (1952).

Early years[edit]

Born in Beverly Hills, California,[1] Chaplin was the second son of Charlie Chaplin and Lita Grey. His parents had married in November 1924 when Lita became pregnant with Sydney's elder brother Charles. Sydney was born five weeks prematurely, 10 months after the birth of his older brother. His parents divorced a year after his birth. He later had eight half-siblings from their father's fourth marriage to Oona O'Neill.

His mother insisted on calling him "Tommy" due to her distaste for his father's half-brother Sydney, after whom he had been officially named. Sydney and his older brother were mostly brought up by their maternal grandmother, while his mother attempted to advance her career as a singer. The family spent most of one year in Nice, where the boys became fluent in French.[2]

Chaplin was educated at Black-Foxe Military Institute, Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, and North Hollywood High School.[2]


After serving in the United States Army in the World War II in Europe, Chaplin turned to acting both on stage and in films. He gained early acting experience in The Circle Theater, now known as El Centro Theatre, including acting in three plays directed by his father.[3] He also appeared in several Broadway productions, including Bells Are Ringing opposite Judy Holliday in 1957, for which he won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical, and Funny Girl opposite Barbra Streisand in 1964, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award.[4] Chaplin also had supporting roles in two of his father's films, Limelight (1952) and A Countess from Hong Kong (1967).[1]

Following his retirement from acting Chaplin seldom indulged in public appearances. Notable exceptions were his attendance at the Cineteca di Bologna festival (Il Cinema Ritrovato), which mounted a fiftieth anniversary screening of Limelight held in 2002, and at Cinecon in Los Angeles in 1998, and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in 2004, where he spoke after screenings of his father’s film The Circus to promote film historian Jeffrey Vance’s Chaplin books.[5]

Personal life[edit]

In 1960 Chaplin married French dancer and actress Noëlle Adam, by whom he had one son, Stephan (born 1960). In 1985 this marriage ended in divorce. Chaplin retired from acting in the 1970s, and in the 1980s owned and managed a restaurant, Chaplin's, in Palm Springs, California. In 1998, after a 14-year engagement, he married his second wife, Margaret Beebe.


Chaplin helped complete and publish his mother's 1998 autobiography, Wife of the Life of the Party. He also wrote the book's foreword, where he shared some of his own history and private thoughts on his parents.


On March 3, 2009, Chaplin died at his home in Rancho Mirage, California, of a stroke, at the age of 82.[1]

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Oldest surviving child of Charlie Chaplin dies at 82". Quad-City Times. Iowa, Davenport. The Los Angeles Times. March 9, 2009. p. 15. Retrieved May 8, 2018 – via open access publication – free to read
  2. ^ a b Robinson, David (9 March 2009). "Sydney Chaplin". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 9 May 2018. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  3. ^ "(no headline)". The Orlando Sentinel. Florida, Orlando. March 17, 1957. p. 85. Retrieved May 8, 2018 – via open access publication – free to read
  4. ^ "("Sydney Chaplin" search results)". Tony Awards. Tony Awards Productions. Archived from the original on 9 May 2018. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  5. ^ Society, Louise Brooks (2009-03-05). "Louise Brooks Society: Sydney Chaplin dies at age 82". Louise Brooks Society. Retrieved 2017-09-28.

Further reading[edit]

  • Grey, Lita. My Life With Chaplin, Grove Press. 1966.
  • Chaplin, Lita Grey; Vance, Jeffrey. Wife of the Life of the Party. Foreword by Sydney Chaplin. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1998 pg. ix-xi-3. ISBN 0-8108-3432-4.
  • Guardian obituary

External links[edit]