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December 25, 1977

Death Ends Career of Comic Genius Chaplin

The Little Tramp has ambled into his final sunset.  Charlie Chaplin died peacefully at his estate in Switzerland today.  He was 88.

Charles Spencer Chaplin was born April 16, 1889, in south London, to a poor vaudeville family.  In his teens, he sang off-color songs and learned the value of mime from working before French audiences.  Producer Mack Sennett asked him to appear in the film "Making a Living" (1914), after which he never returned to the stage.

Among Chaplin's great films were "The Gold Rush" (1925) and "Modern Times" (1936).  Early on they were recognized as true art, innovative and subtle.

Chaplin once said, as John Lennon of the Beatles echoed later, that he was better known than Jesus.  Unlike Lennon, Chaplin never heard people disagree too strongly.

March 2, 1978

Chaplin's coffin is lifted from cemetery

The coffin of the late Charlie Chaplin has been spirited from its grave.  Police in the village of Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland, report the body was taken from a small public cemetery last night or early this morning.  The Chaplin family has not received any ransom notice yet, ransom being the only motive officials could give for the bizarre theft.

Chaplin died Christmas Day at the age of 88 and was buried two days later.  A village resident who assisted at the burial said the casket was extremely heavy, requiring four men to lift it. Marks in the earth show the coffin was dragged several feet before being heaved to a truck.

The theft is not unprecedented.  In August 1977, two men tried to steal the body of Elvis Presley from its Memphis shrine.

May 17, 1978

Charlie Chaplin's coffin found in Noville, Switzerland.