Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) became a star well before movies had sound. But his talent to turn the tragedies of everyday people into epic comedies has made him immortal on the silver screen as he played everything from a tramp to a buffoon dictator. The following quotes consist of Chaplin's observations on his life, career, and the study of human nature.
Charlie Chaplin on Laughter and a Positive Outlook
- "A day without laughter is a day wasted."
- "To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it!"
- "You'll never find a rainbow if you're looking down."
- "Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself."
On Despair and Tragedy
- "Despair is a narcotic. It lulls the mind into indifference."
- "I always like walking in the rain, so no one can see me crying."
- "Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot."
- "Nothing is permanent in this wicked world, not even our troubles."
- "The saddest thing I can imagine is to get used to luxury."
- "We might as well die as to go on living like this."
Chaplin's Comedy and Career
- "All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman, and a pretty girl."
- "I don't believe that the public knows what it wants; this is the conclusion that I have drawn from my career."
- "I went into the business for the money, and the art grew out of it. If people are disillusioned by that remark, I can't help it. It's the truth."
- "The basic essential of a great actor is that he loves himself in acting."
- "Imagination means nothing without doing."
- "Why should poetry have to make sense?"
On Human Nature
- "A man's true character comes out when he's drunk."
- "I am at peace with God. My conflict is with Man."
- "I am for people. I can't help it."
- "We think too much and feel too little."
- "What do you want a meaning for? Life is a desire, not a meaning."
- "We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other's happiness, not by each other's misery."
On Beauty and Understanding
- "I do not have much patience with a thing of beauty that must be explained to be understood."
- "If it does need additional interpretation by someone other than the creator, then I question whether it has fulfilled its purpose."
- "I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician."
- "The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish."
- "Dictators free themselves, but they enslave the people."
- "I'd sooner be called a successful crook than a destitute monarch."