Multipotentialites in History: Charlie Chaplin

Multipotentialites in History: Charlie Chaplin

Written by Janet Brent

Topics: Famous Multipotentialites

I got the inspiration for this article none other than the stray kitten I’ve dubbed as “Chaplin”. Chaplin warmed his way into my heart (and food) with absolute persistence. At first, I thought he was cute in a sort of pathetic way. “Aw look at his black nose and little mustache! He looks just like Charlie Chaplin!”

Then I fed him once and it all went downhill from there… I tried stopping it. I didn’t want to look after two cats instead of one. But he kept coming back. No matter how many times I’d throw him outside, he’d keep coming in.

It turns out persistence is a Charlie Chaplin trait and as I dug deeper and learned more about the life of Charlie Chaplin, inspired by my newfound kitten named after the great Charlie Chaplin himself, I realized that Charlie Chaplin was a fellow multipotentialite, just oozing with talent!

The Backstory: An Ultimate Rags to Riches Tale

Chaplin (the cat) is borne from the streets. While Charlie Chaplin wasn’t exactly born a street kid, his tough upbringing in poverty eventually led him there. Born to an alcoholic father who abandoned him at age three, and a mother left unemployed who later became mentally ill and sent to an asylum, he was left nearly orphaned to fend for himself at a young age.

His mother had a short stint as an English music hall singer (similar to American vaudeville) and Charlie was able to use her contacts to put his foot in the door in show biz. He was part of a short-lived clog dancing troupe at the age of 8 and would take odd jobs here and there just to survive but never lost sight of his dream to become an actor. He barely learned how to read and abandoned formal education altogether at the age of 13.

Charlie Chaplin rose to fame for his tramp character. He would write, edit, manage, direct, produce, act and compose his own music. He taught himself how to play violin, piano and cello and his passion for music extended into the scores of all his films. He built his own studio and even a music company.

Top Reasons Why Charlie Chaplin Was a Successful Multipotentialite

1. He charmed his way into the hearts of millions as one of the most iconic figures and top paid artists in the 20th century. Despite the adversity, he never let his past bring him down, and always erred on optimism, never letting go of his dream to become an actor and comedian. He is an inspiration because his multifaceted talents brought him the resiliency to pave his way forward through sheer charisma and wit.

2. He focused his multi-talents into one goal: acting. He knew exactly what he wanted. You could say it was his life’s work. He pushed his talents into an overarching theme and learned skills along the way to improve his craft.

3. He stood out, making him unique and extraordinary. No one else was doing anything quite like him. He was a visionary and created something original. His quirks and mannerisms made it difficult to imitate. He was unconventional and a non-conformist, turning weaknesses into strengths. His short stature (5’5″) made it difficult to find leading roles but ultimately helped him become the icon that he is today, and never deterred him from multiple affairs and marriages with young women.

4. People love rooting for the underdog. His rags to riches tale is an inspiration that shows anything is possible when you follow your dreams because even underdogs make it to the top.

5. He valued self-education. Althought Chaplin abandoned education at age 13, he never stopped learning and had a passion for learning new things and acquiring skills. His education could be best described as the “school of hard knocks”. He knew that education was a life long pursuit.

Your Turn

What famous multipotentialites, from history to present, inspire you? What else can we learn from Charlie Chaplin’s legacy?

janet_aboutJanet Brent is an intuitive graphic/web designer for creative, holistic and heart-based entrepreneurs. She’s interested in passionate people making positive change. Find her blogging on Purple Panda and on twitter @janetbrent.


  1. Kundan Chhabra says:

    Hi! It occurred to me today that sadly I don’t really know any historical or world-famous women who are multipotentialite/multipassionate. And Google is not helping either. Do you know?

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