Sydney Chaplin (American actor)
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|Born||Sydney Earl Chaplin
March 30, 1926
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Died||March 3, 2009
Rancho Mirage, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Stroke|
(m. 1960; div. 1985)
(m. 1998; his death 2009)
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. Sydney also later had eight half-siblings from their father's fourth marriage to Oona O'Neill, as well as a deceased half-brother Norman from their father's first marriage. His mother insisted on calling him "Tommy" on account of 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.
After serving in the United States Army in the Second World War in Europe, Chaplin turned to acting both on stage and in films. He was one of the founding members of the Circle Players at The Circle Theater, now known as El Centro Theatre, and 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. Chaplin also had supporting roles in two of his father's films, Limelight (1952) and A Countess from Hong Kong (1967).
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.
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 forward, where he shared some of his own history and private thoughts on his parents.
Chaplin died of a stroke on March 3, 2009, at the age of 82. He was survived by his second wife, Margaret Beebe, his son Stephan, and granddaughter Tamara.
- Limelight (1952) as Neville
- Columbus Discovers Kraehwinkel (1954)
- Land of the Pharaohs (1955)
- Confession (1955)
- Abdullah the Great (1955)
- Pillars of the Sky (1956)
- Fours Girls in Town (1957)
- Quantez (1957)
- Follow That Man (1961)
- Your Turn to Die (1967)
- A Countess from Hong Kong (1967)
- If You Meet Sartana Pray for Your Death (1968)
- Double Face (1969)
- The Adding Machine (1969)
- The Sicilian Clan (1969)
- Satan's Cheerleaders (1977)
- 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