On this day, April 6, 1916, Charlie Chaplin signed a movie contract with the Mutual Film Corporation. Mutual paid Chaplin US $670,000 to produce a dozen two-reel comedies. He became the highest paid entertainer in the world. He was 26 years old.
Mutual built Chaplin his very own studio and allowed him total freedom to make these twelve films. These films rank among the most influential comedy films in all cinema. Of these the best known include: One A.M., The Pawnshop, Easy Street, and The Adventurer.
Edna Purviance remained the leading lady, and Chaplin added Eric Campbell, Henry Bergman, and Albert Austin to his stock company; Campbell, a Gilbert and Sullivan veteran, provided superb villainy, and second bananas Bergman and Austin would remain with Chaplin for decades.
Upon the U.S. entering World War I, Chaplin became a spokesman for Liberty Bonds with his close friend Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford with whom he moved on to found United Artists in 1919.
In 19Mutual Film Corporation ceased production. Like many other companies established at this time, Mutual was eventually absorbed by larger corporations, in this case Film Booking Offices of America and later RKO Radio Pictures.
The twelve Mutual comedies were revamped as sound films in 1933, when producer Amadee J. Van Beuren added new orchestral scores and sound effects.
Charlie Chaplin’s Mutual Filmography
May 15, 1916 The Floorwalker
June 12, 1916 The Fireman
July 10, 1916 The Vagabond
August 7, 1916 One A.M.
September 4, 1916 The Count
October 2, 1916 The Pawnshop
November 13, 1916 Behind the Screen
December 4, 1916 The Rink
January 22, 1917 Easy Street
April 16, 1917 The Cure
June 17, 1917 The Immigrant
October 22, 1917 The Adventurer
1894 – Walter Huston (Houghston) (Academy Award-winning actor: Treasure of the Sierra Madre ; Duel in the Sun, December 7th: The Movie; died Apr 7, 1950)
1929 – Joi Lansing (Joyce Wassmansdoff) (actress: Easter Parade, Singin’ in the Rain, The Merry Widow, Big Foot; died Aug 7, 1972)
1929 – Andre (Ludwig) Previn (pianist, composer; Oscar-winning film scores: Gigi, Porgy and Bess, Irma La Douce, My Fair Lady; conductor: Pittsburgh Symphony, London & LA Philharmonic Orchestras)
1937 – Billy Dee (December) Williams (actor: Brian’s Song, Lady Sings the Blues, The Return of the Jedi, Batman, The Imposter, The Empire Strikes Back, Alien Intruder, Mahogany)
1938 – Roy Thinnes (actor: From Here to Eternity, The Invaders, Outer Limits, The Hindenburg, Code Name: Diamond Head)
1942 – Barry Levinson (Academy Award-winning director: Rain Man ; Disclosure, Bugsy, Good Morning, Vietnam, The Natural, Diner; director, writer: Toys, Avalon, Tin Men; writer: Best Friends, Inside Moves, And Justice for All, High Anxiety, Silent Movie; Emmy Award-winning writer: The Carol Burnett Show [1974, 1975]; Emmy Award-winning producer: “Displaced Person”, American Playhouse ; Emmy Award-winning Director: “Gone for Goode”, Homicide-Life on the Street)
1947 – John Ratzenberger (actor: Cheers, The Empire Strikes Back, Timestalkers, Camp Cucamonga: How I Spent My Summer Vacation, John Ratzenberger’s Made in America)
1952 – Marilu Henner (Mary Lucy Denise Pudlowski) (actress: Taxi, Evening Shade, Cannonball Run 2)
1969 – Ari Meyers (actress: Author! Author!, Kate & Allie, Think Big, Dark Horse)
1972 – Jason Hervey (actor: The Wonder Years, Wildside, Fast Times, Diff’rent Strokes, Back to School, Back to the Future)