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When his contract with Mutual expired in 1917, Chaplin decided to become an independent producer in a desire for more freedom and greater leisure in making his movies.
We strongly recommend you read the full articles by following our links, since they provide many more insights on Chaplin’s life and work.) However, before he could assume his responsibilities with United Artists, Chaplin had to complete his contract with First National.
So early in 1921, he came out with a six-reel masterpiece: The Kid, in which he introduced to the screen one of the greatest child actors the world has ever known - Jackie Coogan.
Charlie made his professional debut as a member of a juvenile group called “The Eight Lancashire Lads” and rapidly won popular favour as an outstanding tap dancer.
When he was about twelve, he got his first chance to act in a legitimate stage show, and appeared as “Billy” the page boy, in support of first H. Saintsbury and then William Gillette in different productions of “Sherlock Holmes”.
Sydney Chaplin had then arrived from England, and took his brother’s place with Keystone as their leading comedian.
The following year Charlie was even more in demand and signed with the Mutual Film Corporation for a much larger sum to make 12 two-reel comedies.
After seventy films in which he himself had appeared in every scene, he now directed a picture in which he merely walked on for a few seconds as an unbilled and unrecognisable extra – a porter at a railroad station. Searching for a new leading lady, he rediscovered Lillita Mac Murray, whom he had employed, as a pretty 12-year-old, in The Kid.
Still not yet sixteen, Lillita was put under contract and re-named Lita Grey.
This plant was situated in the heart of the residential section of Hollywood at La Brea Avenue.
Early in 1918, Chaplin entered into an agreement with First National Exhibitors’ Circuit, a new organization specially formed to exploit his pictures.