Sydney Chaplin (American actor)

Sydney Earl Chaplin (March 30, 1926 – March 3, 2009) was an American actor. He was the second son of Charlie Chaplin and Lita Grey. One of his major roles was his father's film Limelight (1952). In theater, Chaplin won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his 1957 performance in Bells Are Ringing.

Sydney Chaplin
Sydney Earl Chaplin

(1926-03-30)March 30, 1926
DiedMarch 3, 2009(2009-03-03) (aged 82)
Years active1952–1977
Noëlle Adam
(m. 1960; div. 1985)

Margaret Beebe
(m. 1998; his death 2009)
Parent(s)Charlie Chaplin
Lita Grey
RelativesSee Chaplin family

Early years

Born in 1926 in Beverly Hills, California,[1] Chaplin was the second son of Charlie Chaplin and Lita Grey. His parents had married in November 1924 when Lita became pregnant with Sydney's elder brother Charles. Sydney was born five weeks prematurely, 10 months after the birth of his older brother. He was named for his father's half-brother, Sydney Chaplin. His parents divorced a year after his birth. He later had eight half-siblings from their father's fourth marriage to Oona O'Neill.

His mother insisted on calling him "Tommy" due to her distaste for his father's half-brother Sydney, after whom he had been officially named. Sydney and his older brother were brought up mostly by their maternal grandmother, while his mother attempted to advance her career as a singer. The family spent most of one year in Nice, where the boys became fluent in French.[2]

Chaplin was educated at boarding schools: Black-Foxe Military Institute and the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, and at the public North Hollywood High School.[2]


After serving in the United States Army during World War II in Europe, Chaplin returned to California, where he became involved in acting both on stage and in films. He gained early acting experience in The Circle Theater, now known as El Centro Theatre, including acting in three plays directed by his father.[3]

He also appeared in several Broadway productions, including Bells Are Ringing opposite Judy Holliday in 1957, for which he won a Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical. He played in Funny Girl opposite Barbra Streisand in 1964, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award.[4] Chaplin also had supporting roles in two of his father's films, Limelight (1952) and A Countess from Hong Kong (1967).[1]

Chaplin retired from acting in the 1970s. In the 1980s, he owned and managed a restaurant, Chaplin's, in Palm Springs, California.

Following his retirement from acting, Chaplin seldom made public appearances. Exceptions included his attendance at Cinecon in Los Angeles in 1998, and at the Cineteca di Bologna 2002 festival (Il Cinema Ritrovato), which mounted a fiftieth-anniversary screening of Limelight. He appeared also at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in 2004, where he spoke after screenings of his father's film The Circus to promote film historian Jeffrey Vance's Chaplin books.[5]

Personal life

In 1960 Chaplin married French dancer and actress Noëlle Adam, by whom he had one son, Stephan (born 1960). In 1985 this marriage ended in divorce.

He became involved with Margaret Beebe in 1984 whom he married in 1998.


Chaplin helped complete and publish his mother's 1998 autobiography, Wife of the Life of the Party. He also wrote the book's foreword, where he shared some of his own history and private thoughts on his parents.


On March 3, 2009, Chaplin died at his home in Rancho Mirage, California, of a stroke, at the age of 82.[1]


Year Title Role Notes
1953Act of LoveUn soldat
1954Columbus Discovers KraehwinkelClark Hunter
1955Abdullah the GreatAhmed
1955Land of the PharaohsTreneh, The Captain of the Guard
1955ConfessionMike Nelson
1956Pillars of the SkyTimothy
1957Four Girls in TownJohnny Pryor
1961Follow That ManEddie Miller
1967A Countess from Hong KongHarvey
1967Sept hommes et une garceDuprat
1967Your Turn to DieInspector Chandler
1968If You Meet Sartana Pray for Your DeathJeff Stewal
1968One by OneJacques Latour
1969Pagó cara su muerteRed Stacy
1969Double FaceMr. Brown
1969The Adding MachineLieutenant Charles
1969The Sicilian ClanJack
1970Nel giorno del signoreMelozzo
1971L'Homme qui vient de la nuitJohn
1971La Grande MaffiaLe Directeur de la Banque
1971The ContractDistrict Attorney
1971Papa les petits bateaux...Spiro de Palma
1972The Woman HunterGeorge
1974El encanto del amor prohibido
1974So Evil, My SisterGeorge
1977Satan's CheerleadersMonk(final film role)


  1. "Oldest surviving child of Charlie Chaplin dies at 82". Quad-City Times. Los Angeles Times. March 9, 2009. p. 15. Retrieved May 8, 2018 via
  2. Robinson, David (9 March 2009). "Sydney Chaplin". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 9 May 2018. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  3. "Sydney is a Chaplin". Orlando Sentinel. March 17, 1957. p. 85. Retrieved May 8, 2018 via
  4. "Search Results: Sydney Chaplin". Tony Awards. Archived from the original on 9 May 2018. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  5. "Sydney Chaplin dies at age 82". Louise Brooks Society. 3 May 2009. Retrieved 2017-09-28.

Further reading

  • Grey, Lita. My Life With Chaplin, Grove Press. 1966.
  • Chaplin, Lita Grey; Vance, Jeffrey. Wife of the Life of the Party. Foreword by Sydney Chaplin. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1998 pg. ix-xi-3. ISBN 0-8108-3432-4.
  • Guardian obituary
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