Geraldine Chaplin

Active - 1952 - 2018  |   Born - Jul 31, 1944 in Santa Monica, California, United States  |   Genres - Drama

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

Bearing more than a passing physical resemblance to her famous father Sir Charles Chaplin, graceful, versatile Geraldine Chaplin is an internationally respected leading and character actress. The eldest daughter from Charles Chaplin's marriage to Oona O'Neill, the daughter of famed playwright Eugene O'Neill, she spent her first eight years in Hollywood, but then moved with her family to Switzerland when her father was persecuted by the U.S. government for his political beliefs. In her new home, Ms. Chaplin attended private schools and was trained in classical ballet at the Royal Ballet School in London with the English Royal Ballet. She made her film debut in the elder Chaplin's Limelight (1952) as a dancer. She also played a small role in her father's last film, Countess From Hong Kong (1964). She had her first major adult role in 1965 playing Omar Shariff's wife, Tonya, in Doctor Zhivago. Much of the film was shot in Spain and it was there that Chaplin began a long romance with director Carlos Saura, who featured her in several films. She has subsequently worked with some of Europe's finest directors. She has also worked with American directors, most notably Robert Altman, who first utilized her in Nashville (1975) as the chatty, shallow BBC reporter Opal. In addition to her busy film career, Chaplin also appeared on-stage and in television miniseries such as Gulliver's Travels (1996) and The Odyssey (1997). Though she has often played leads, the diminutive, willowy, and offbeat beauty with the haunting blue eyes claims she is more comfortable in character roles.

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  • Moved to Switzerland with her family when she was 8, and was educated at a Swiss boarding school.
  • Made her film debut, as a dancer, in her father's 1952 film Limelight.
  • Trained in classical ballet at the Royal Ballet School in London but didn't feel she was good enough to pursue it professionally.
  • Director David Lean chose her to play Tonya in his 1965 film Doctor Zhivago after seeing her picture in a magazine.
  • Made her Broadway debut in The Little Foxes in 1967.
  • Played her grandmother (Charlie's mother, Hannah) in the 1992 movie Chaplin, which starred Robert Downey Jr.
  • Has worked with such acclaimed directors as Pedro Almodovar, Franco Zeffirelli, Robert Altman and Martin Scorsese.
  • Is fluent in French and Spanish.