How Much was Charlie Chaplin’s Worth

Charlie Chaplin, a comedian, English actor, and filmmaker had a net worth equivalent to 400 million dollars (after adjustments for inflation) at the time of his death in 1977. In London, England, he was born on April 16, 1889, and is best remembered for being the pioneer of the silent film era and the movie industry overall. Charlie Chaplin’s world-famous on-screen personality, also known as “the Tramp,” is an iconic figure in cinema’s history. Chaplin’s career has lasted for 75 years and prevailed through years and years of radical change. The comedic actor grew up experiencing extreme poverty, the offspring of London music hall performers. He started working even before he was nine years old to help in providing for his family. Chaplin’s work grew to be especially needed after his mother was sent to a mental asylum.

Charlie first signed to the Fred Karno company when he was only nineteen years old. He then had his first on-screen appearance in 1914 in the film “Making a Living.” Right after, Chaplin went on to work with numerous other production companies as he slowly grew to be a more prominent global star. He co-founded the United Artists Corporation in 1919 along with Mary Pickford, D.W. Griffith, and Douglas Fairbanks. This move gave Chaplin total control over his career’s every aspect. His first major hit with United Artists was in 1921 with The Kid. The 1940s proved to be a politically controversial era for Chaplin. As an effect, his satirical work during this time reduced his widespread popularity.

Charlie Chaplin was a cinematic powerhouse throughout his career. He directed, acted in, wrote, produced, scored, and edited his own movies. In addition, Chaplin directed a tally of 11 feature films. In 1972, the actor-director received an Honorary Academy Award and was Knighted in 1975. The filmmaker died of natural causes in his home in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Vaud, Switzerland, on December 25, 1977. Horrifyingly, his body was dug up in 1978 by two immigrants for ransom, which was later discovered in a field in Noville. 

Chaplin was married on four different occasions, and his wives were named Mildred Harris, Lita Grey, Paulette Goddard, and Oona O’Neill. TIME Magazine has recognized the silent film pioneer as one of the “100 Most Important People of the 20th Century” to honor his classic comedic appeal. In addition, the London Film Museum holds a permanent exhibition in recognition of Charlie Chaplin’s work and life.

Charlie Chaplin Salary and Wealth

falling dollar bills

Charlie was earning around $175 per week when he was working for Keystone, the production company. That’s equivalent to about $4,400 per week in the present day’s dollars, approximately $230,000 per year. He then signed a new agreement with the Essanay production company in 1915, raising his weekly salary to $1,250. That’s equivalent to about $30,000 per week and $1.5 million per year, including inflation. In 1916, Chaplin signed a deal with Mutual that paid him $10,000 every week. That’s equivalent to $250,000 per week with inflation—roughly around $13 million per year. First National gave him $1 million in 1918 to appear in eight films. That’s equal to $16 million in total, about $2 million for every movie with inflation.

A court froze Chaplin’s assets in 1927 as part of his ongoing divorce with Lita Chaplin. Around that time, his estate was valued at $16 million in that year’s dollars. That’s equal to $215 million in the present day’s dollars. He was eventually commanded to pay Lita $1 million.

In 1952, the actor received a message while flying from the US to his native England. The message was from the US authorities, who informed Chaplin that he couldn’t go back to the US unless he appeared in front of an immigration authority on the premise that he admits to being a communist sympathizer. It was a tough decision because Chaplin left his home for numerous decades and most of his assets in the United States, which includes $1 million worth of cash, buried in his backyard in Beverly Hills (approximately $9.5 million with inflation). Charlie and his wife Oona dwelled on a 37-acre estate in Switzerland. 

After one year of living overseas, Chaplin directed his wife Oona to go back to the US on the pretense of caring for her ailing mother, but the actual objective was to retrieve their assets. According to some stories, Chaplin’s wife converted the one million dollars into thousand dollar bills that Oona then bundled and stitched into the lining of a mink coat she donned on her return trip. Years prior, expecting these exact immigration problems, Charlie also made Oona a co-signer on every one of their traditional bank accounts, which allowed her to extricate most of their assets back to Switzerland legally. When he died, Chaplin’s estate’s precise value was hard to assess since Switzerland kept it. However, in 1977, after his death, it’s known that the comedian left at least $100 million to his wife. That’s equivalent to $415 million with inflation.