Sir Charles Spencer " Charlie " Chaplin , KBE (16 April 1889 – 25 December 1977) was a British comic actor and filmmaker who rose to fame in the silent era . Chaplin became a worldwide icon through his screen persona " the Tramp " and is considered one of the most important figures of the film industry. His career spanned more than 75 years, from a child in the Victorian era to close to his death at the age of 88, and encompassed both adulation and controversy. Raised in London, Chaplin's childhood was defined by poverty and hardship. He was sent to a workhouse twice before the age of nine; his father was absent, and his mother was committed to a mental asylum.