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Charlie Chaplin’s children reveal their fear of the film pioneer

He was perhaps the most famous star of the silent era, whose buffoons and slapstick antics on screen roared with laughter from a generation of moviegoers.

Now a new film aims to give voice to Charlie Chaplin’s much-whispered personal life as four of his children share their thoughts on their father’s troubled history with his last wife, Oona O’Neill.

The Real Charlie Chaplin, which opens in theaters today, tells the hidden story of the world’s first superstar comedian who has been married four times and is said to have been sleeping with over 2,000 women.

Intimate home videos show an elderly gentleman laughing and at ease with his family with O’Neill, who was 36 years younger, reports The Mirror.

But son Michael, 75, tells viewers: “I was kind of scared of my dad. He was so powerful you couldn’t argue with him because he couldn’t be wrong.

Chaplin can be seen with his children in the documentary The Real Charlie Chaplin, which opens in theaters today

Born in Lambeth, south London in 1889, Chaplin was a penniless vaudeville actor when he traveled to the United States at the age of 24.  Five years later, in Los Angeles in 1918, he married 16-year-old vaudeville actress Mildred Harris after a false pregnancy alert

Born in Lambeth, south London in 1889, Chaplin was a penniless vaudeville actor when he traveled to the United States at the age of 24. Five years later, in Los Angeles in 1918, he married 16-year-old vaudeville actress Mildred Harris after a false pregnancy alert

His sister Geraldine, 77, added: “My father wasn’t Charlie Chaplin. I knew they were the same person, but they didn’t look alike at all – unless they had an audience, they would become Charlie Chaplin, that other man.”

Born in Lambeth, south London in 1889, Chaplin was a penniless vaudeville actor when he traveled to the United States at the age of 24. Five years later, in Los Angeles in 1918, he married 16-year-old vaudeville actress Mildred Harris after a false pregnancy alert.

The couple had an infant son named Norman the following year, but he died just three days after birth, quickly leaving Chaplin Harris. When they divorced in 1920, she cited his “spiritual cruelty” as the reason for their separation.

By this time, Chaplin’s stardom was on the rise and he was becoming a huge hit with audiences with the films The Kid and The Gold Rush, drawing large crowds to his public appearances.

In the 1920s, they spotted 12-year-old Lillita Louis MacMurray on the set of The Kid and set out to model her as an actress.  He changed her name to Lita Gray and is said to have seduced her in 1924 when she was 15 and 35, which could have led to statutory rape charges even then

In the 1920s, they spotted 12-year-old Lillita Louis MacMurray on the set of The Kid and set out to model her as an actress. He changed her name to Lita Gray and is said to have seduced her in 1924 when she was 15 and 35, which could have led to statutory rape charges even then

He met 22-year-old former child model Paulette Goddard in 1932, although she claimed to be only 17.  They were married from 1936 to 1942, after which Goddard received an agreement and was silent about their union

He met 22-year-old former child model Paulette Goddard in 1932, although she claimed to be only 17. They were married from 1936 to 1942, after which Goddard received an agreement and was silent about their union

This quickly led to a growing prestige for young girls, which was considered acceptable by his acquaintances. In the 1920s, they spotted 12-year-old Lillita Louis MacMurray on the set of The Kid and set out to model her as an actress.

He changed her name to Lita Gray and is said to have seduced her in 1924 when she was 15 and 35, which could have led to statutory rape charges even then.

The couple’s brief marriage ended in a bitter divorce in 1927 and a £625,000 settlement – now valued at around £38million and at the time the costliest breakup in Hollywood history.

In her petition, Gray sought custody of their two children and alleged atrocities and forced sexual acts, while Chaplin called her a “blackmailer, a gold digger, and a little whore.”

Within a year of their divorce, they moved in with his fourth and last wife, Oona O'Neill, who bore him eight children and stayed with him until his death in 1977

Within a year of their divorce, they moved in with his fourth and last wife, Oona O’Neill, who bore him eight children and stayed with him until his death in 1977

In her 1966 memoir My Life with Chaplin, Gray wrote, “We got married in Mexico because Charlie didn’t want to have much to say about the marriage. On the way back on the train they were pretty angry.

“We stood on the platform between the cars while the train was going and they said, ‘We could just end this whole situation if you just jump’.”

They met a 22-year-old former child model, Paulette Goddard, in 1932, although she claimed to be only 17. They were married from 1936 to 1942, after which Goddard received an agreement and was silent about their union.

Within a year of their divorce, they moved in with his fourth and last wife, Oona O’Neill, who bore him eight children and stayed with him until his death in 1977.

Her daughter Jane, 64, describes her difficult relationship with him. “He was unreachable. “Your father is working, don’t disturb him, he loses his inspiration” – our world revolved around my father’s well-being,” she recalls.

“He talked about having big doubts, he said he’s had doubts all his life.

“He made his lifelong dream come true, but I don’t think he ever really got over his doubts. Do you ever really get over where you’re from? I don’t think it will ever leave you. ‘

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