April 16, 2011
122nd Birthday of Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin wasn’t just the greatest star of the silent film era; he also wrote, directed and produced more than 80 movies in a career that spanned decades and included such masterpieces as The Kid, The Gold Rush and Modern Times. He scored many of his pictures as well, and on at least one occasion served as an on-set hairdresser.
Chaplin is also one of my creative heroes. Despite being an art-obsessed high schooler preemptively bored by anything in black and white, I borrowed a VHS tape of Chaplin’s work from the library on a lark. It’s not an exaggeration to say watching it changed my life. I laughed, I cried—I cried from laughter. For the first time I realized the power of visual storytelling.
We sometimes tell small stories with Google’s logo, but for Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin’s 122nd birthday tomorrow, April 16, the Doodle team created something extra fun. For the next 36 hours the Google homepage will pay homage to Charlie Chaplin’s creative legacy with our first-ever live action video doodle.
The simple, silent short film stars the entire Doodle team (with fellow doodler Mike Dutton sporting that famous mustache, hat and eyeliner) and was shot on location in Niles, Calif., the setting of several of Chaplin’s early classics including The Tramp. Niles is also home to our advisers for this doodle, the ever-helpful Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum.
True pieces of art, Chaplin’s films still feel fresh today even though some of them are nearly a century old. We hope that our homage gets people talking about his work and the many virtues of silent film.
As a bonus, check out some of these fun behind-the-scenes shots: