One of Hollywood’s most readily recognizable stars, English actor Charlie Chaplin (1889 – 1977) was the silent film era’s most famous star and one of the silver screen’s all-time greats. In addition to being a pioneer who revolutionized acting and comedy, Chaplin was also a sexual pervert who liked ’em young. So young as to cause scandal, derail his career, and get him de facto deported from the US.
Chaplin also seems to have been Harvey Weinstein before there was a Harvey Weinstein and is credited with pioneering the “casting couch”, whereby powerful Hollywood figures extracted sexual favors from actresses during auditions. Reportedly, Chaplin used caption cards during auditions to prompt aspiring actresses into increasingly suggestive acts and poses, until they stood before him naked or nearly so.
However, his kinks went beyond the run-of-the-mill quid pro quo sexual harassment, and into the realm of the… unusual. Chaplin had a thing for pies, and not just as comedic props and gags. After getting actresses to disrobe during auditions, Chaplin would grope them in exaggerated ways on the couch, then, having worked himself up by getting them to do a striptease on demand, followed by a groping session on the couch, he would stand them naked against a wall and throw pies at them.
He also had a penchant for orgies and liked to organize them with his friend and fellow comedic film star, Fatty Arbuckle. Those orgies came to a screeching halt, however, in the aftermath of a scandal that rocked the country in 1921. Fatty Arbuckle was accused of raping a woman to death and tried for murder. Although acquitted, the Chaplin-Arbuckle orgy parties never resumed.
Chaplin’s greatest scandals however arose from his propensity for cradle robbing: he liked much younger women. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, a pervert himself if ever there was one, had long disliked Chaplin’s political leanings and used his sex scandals to launch a smear campaign against him. In 1944, he had Chaplin prosecuted for violating the Mann Act, which prohibits the transportation of women across state lines for sexual purposes. Chaplin was acquitted, but his reputation was severely damaged.
In 1952, while Chaplin was in London for a film premiere, the US Department of Justice revoked the British actor’s reentry visa and stated that he would have to submit to an interview concerning his politics and morality before reentering the United States. Chaplin decided not to bother, cut his ties with the US, and settled in Switzerland.