Marx. Lenin. Charlie Chaplin.

Marx. Lenin. Charlie Chaplin.

Was Charlie Chaplin a Commie? J. Edgar Hoover thought so. The FBI Director asked Britain’s MI5 intelligence agency to check out the silent film star’s background. The British spies looked into it throughout the 1950s and found no evidence of radical politics. They also found no birth certificate, so J. Edgar was probably as riled as 21st century conspiracy nuts are. Perhaps the lack of documents has something to do with the fact that Somerset House, the U.K.’s resposity of vital statistics, was hit by a German bomb in 1940.

So if Sir Charles Spencer Chaplain wasn’t a communist, he must have been a secret French (or Russian) Jew named Israel Thornton, right? No,  though he may have been part Romanichal. Chaplin was merely a talented actor, acrobat, writer, composer, director, producer, and the biggest movie star in the world. No wonder J. Edgar Hoover hounded him out of the country.


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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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