1947 April 14

“I Am Not a Communist,” Says Charlie Chaplin

 

Charlie Chaplin, the greatest star of the silent film era, declared on this day that “I am not a Communist.” Chaplin made his statement in response to repeated accusations that he was a communist or communist sympathizer because of some of his political associations. On July 20th, he accepted an “invitation” to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). (In fact, Chaplin had not been formally asked to testify before HUAC.)

Chaplin was also attacked for never having become an American citizen. He was born in the United Kingdom and continued to travel on a British passport. His critics implied that not becoming an American citizen was an indication of his “disloyalty” to the U.S. Chaplin replied that during World War II he had been very active in campaigns to sell U.S. War Bonds to help finance the American war effort.

In 1952, Chaplin traveled to England for the opening of his new film Limelight. While there, the U.S. Attorney revoked his visa, which prevented him from returning to the U.S. Chaplin did not return for 20 years, returning not until 1972 when he was awarded an Honorary Oscar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Read: Charles J. Maland, Chaplin and American Culture: The Evolution of a Star Image (1989)

Read Chaplin’s FBI file: http://vault.fbi.gov/charlie-chaplin

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