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The Tramp (Charlot in several languages), also known as the Little Tramp, was English actor Charlie Chaplin's most memorable on-screen character and an icon in world cinema during the era of silent film. The Tramp is also the title of a silent film starring Chaplin, which Chaplin wrote and directed in 1915.

The Tramp
Charlie Chaplin in costume as his signature character the Tramp
First appearanceKid Auto Races at Venice (1914)
Last appearanceModern Times (1936)[1]
Created byCharlie Chaplin
Portrayed byCharlie Chaplin
In-universe information
  • The Little Tramp
  • Charlot
  • Charlie
TitleThe Little Fellow
ChildrenKid ("John") (surrogate son)

The Tramp, as portrayed by Chaplin, is a childlike, bumbling but generally good-hearted character who is most famously portrayed as a vagrant who endeavours to behave with the manners and dignity of a gentleman despite his actual social status. However, while he is ready to take what paying work is available, he also uses his cunning to get what he needs to survive and escape the authority figures who will not tolerate his antics. Chaplin's films did not always portray the Tramp as a vagrant, however. The character ("The little fellow", as Chaplin called him) was rarely referred to by any names on-screen, although he was sometimes identified as "Charlie" and rarely, as in the original silent version of The Gold Rush, "The little funny tramp".


The character of the Tramp was originally created by accident while Chaplin was working at Mack Sennett's Keystone Studios, when dressing up for the 1914 short film Mabel's Strange Predicament starring Mabel Normand and Chaplin. In a 1933 interview, Chaplin explained how he came up with the look of the Tramp:[2]

A hotel set was built for (fellow Keystone comic) Mabel Normand's picture Mabel's Strange Predicament and I was hurriedly told to put on a funny make-up. This time I went to the wardrobe and got a pair of baggy pants, a tight coat, a small derby hat and a large pair of shoes. I wanted the clothes to be a mass of contradictions, knowing pictorially the figure would be vividly outlined on the screen. To add a comic touch, I wore a small mustache which would not hide my expression. My appearance got an enthusiastic response from everyone, including Mr. Sennett. The clothes seemed to imbue me with the spirit of the character. He actually became a man with a soul—a point of view. I defined to Mr. Sennett the type of person he was. He wears an air of romantic hunger, forever seeking romance, but his feet won't let him.

Mabel's Strange Predicament (1914), the first film produced in which Chaplin plays the Tramp

That was actually the first film featuring the Tramp but a different film, shot later but with the same character, happened to be released two days earlier. The Tramp debuted to the public in the Keystone comedy Kid Auto Races at Venice (released on 7 February 1914; Mabel's Strange Predicament, shot earlier, was released on 9 February 1914). Chaplin, with his Little Tramp character, quickly became the most popular star in Keystone director Mack Sennett's company of players. Chaplin continued to play the Tramp through dozens of short films and, later, feature-length productions. (In only a handful of other productions did he play characters other than the Tramp.)

The Tramp was closely identified with the silent era, and was considered an international character. The 1931 sound production City Lights featured no dialogue. Chaplin officially retired the character in the film Modern Times (1936), which ended with the Tramp walking down a highway toward the horizon. The film was only a partial talkie and is often called the last silent film. The Tramp remains silent until near the end of the film when, for the first time, his voice is finally heard, albeit only as part of a French/Italian-derived gibberish song.

In The Great Dictator, Chaplin's first film after Modern Times, Chaplin plays the dual role of a Hitler-esque dictator, and a Jewish barber. Although Chaplin emphatically stated that the barber was not the Tramp, he retains the Tramp's moustache, hat, and general appearance. Despite a few silent scenes, including one where the barber is wearing the Tramp's coat and bowler hat and carrying his cane, the barber speaks throughout the film (using Chaplin's own English accent), including a passionate plea for peace that has been widely interpreted as Chaplin speaking as himself.[3]

In 1959, having been editing The Chaplin Revue, Chaplin commented to a reporter regarding the Tramp character, "I was wrong to kill him. There was room for the Little Man in the atomic age."[4]

A vaudeville performer named Lew Bloom created a similar tramp character. Bloom argued he was "the first stage tramp in the business".[5] In an interview with the Daily Herald in 1957, Chaplin recalled being inspired by the tramp characters Weary Willie and Tired Tim, a long-running hobo comic strip from Illustrated Chips that he had read as a boy in London:

The wonderfully vulgar paper for boys [Illustrated Chips] ... and the 'Adventures of Weary Willie and Tired Tim,' two famous tramps with the world against them. There's been a lot said about how I evolved the little tramp character who made my name. Deep, psychological stuff has been written about how I meant him to be a symbol of all the class war, of the love-hate concept, the death-wish and what-all. But if you want the simple Chaplin truth behind the Chaplin legend, I started the little tramp simply to make people laugh and because those other old tramps, Weary Willie and Tired Tim, had always made me laugh.[6]


The Tramp and Kid (John).
The Tramp and Kid ("John").

The physical attributes of the Tramp include a pair of large baggy pants, a tight coat, a bowler hat, a large pair of shoes, a springy and flexible cane, and a toothbrush moustache - a mass of contradictions, as Chaplin wanted it to be.[7]

Two films made in 1915, The Tramp and The Bank, created the characteristics of Chaplin's screen persona. While in the end the Tramp manages to shake off his disappointment and resume his carefree ways, the pathos lies in the Tramp's having hope for a more permanent transformation through love and his failure to achieve this.[8]

The Tramp was usually the victim of circumstances and coincidences, but sometimes the results work in his favour. In Modern Times, he picks up a red flag that falls off a truck and starts to wave it at the truck in an attempt to return it, and by doing so, unknowingly and inadvertently becomes the leader of a group of protesting workers, and ends up in jail because of it. While in jail, he accidentally eats "nose powder" (i.e., cocaine), which causes him to not return to his jail cell; but when he eventually does, he fights off some jailbreakers attempting to escape, thus saving the life of the warden. Because of this, the warden offers to let him go, but the Tramp would rather stay in jail because it is better than the outside world.


Chaplin's social commentary, while critical of the faults and excesses created by industrialisation, also shows support for and belief in the "American Dream". In Modern Times, Chaplin creates a "portrayal consistent with popular leftist stereotypes of wealthy business leaders and oppressed workers in the 1930s."[9] While the Tramp and his fellow workers sweat on the assembly line, the president of the Electro Steel Company works on a puzzle and reads comic strips in the newspaper. The obsession of working with efficiency and assembly-line productivity ultimately drives the Tramp mad. This could be seen as "an attack on the capitalist rationalization of production."[10] However, "the film also guardedly affirms American middle-class, particularly its optimism."[11] For example, one sequence depicts the Tramp's dream in which he and the gamine live a traditional middle-class lifestyle.

The Tramp and the gamine find a rundown shack to live in. The gamine cooks a cheap breakfast, and then the Tramp is off to work, while the gamine stays to maintain the home—an allusion to a middle-class setting. By the ending of Modern Times, "the film seems tailored to please the middle-class optimist." Due to all of their failings the final scene had the gamine stating, "What's the use of trying?", and the Tramp replying "Buck up—never say die." In his silent films, Chaplin uniquely deployed critical social commentary. "What makes Modern Times decidedly different from Chaplin's previous three films are the political references and social realism that keep intruding into Charlie's world."[12] "No comedian before or after him has spent more energy depicting people in their working lives."[13] "Though there had been films depicting the lives of immigrants and urban workers, no filmmaker before Chaplin had created their experience so humanly and lovingly."[14]

The Woman (1915)

Chaplin used not one but two similar-looking characters to the Tramp in The Great Dictator (1940); however, this was an all-talking film (Chaplin's first). The film was inspired by the noted similarity between Chaplin's Tramp, most notably his small moustache and that of Adolf Hitler. Chaplin used this similarity to create a dark version of the Tramp character in parody of the dictator. In his book My Autobiography, Chaplin stated that he was unaware of the Holocaust when he made the film; if he had been, he writes, he would not have been able to make a comedy satirising Hitler. In his autobiography, Chaplin identifies the barber as the Tramp. A noticeable difference is that the barber has a streak of grey in his hair, whereas the Tramp had always been depicted as having dark hair. Also, the barber lacks the ill-fitting clothes of the Tramp and is clearly portrayed as having a profession. His character does share much of the Tramp's character, notably his idealism and anger on seeing unfairness.

List of films featuring the Tramp


Chaplin appeared in 36 films for Keystone Studios; 25 of them featured the Tramp character, all produced by Mack Sennett. Except where noted, all films were one reel in length.

Release dateTitleCredited asNotes
7 February 1914Kid Auto Races at VeniceThe TrampReleased on a split-reel (i.e. two films on one reel) with an education film, Olives and Trees.
9 February 1914Mabel's Strange PredicamentThe TrampFilmed before but released after Kid Auto Races at Venice, hence it was in this film that the Tramp costume was first used.[15]
28 February 1914Between ShowersMasherChaplin co-leads the film
2 March 1914A Film JohnnieThe Film Johnnie
16 March 1914His Favourite PastimeDrinker
4 April 1914The Star BoarderThe Star boarder
20 April 1914Twenty Minutes of LovePickpocket
27 April 1914Caught in a CabaretWaiterTwo reels. Co-writer: Mabel Normand
4 May 1914Caught in the RainTipsy Hotel Guest
1 June 1914The Fatal MalletSuitor
11 June 1914The KnockoutRefereeTwo reels
20 June 1914Mabel's Married LifeMabel's HusbandCo-writer: Mabel Normand
The Tramp wears a top hat instead of a bowler.
9 July 1914Laughing GasDentist's Assistant
1 August 1914The Property ManThe Property ManTwo reels
##The Tramp wears no jacket
10 August 1914The Face on the Bar Room FloorArtistBased on the poem by Hugh Antoine d'Arcy.
13 August 1914RecreationThe TrampReleased as a split-reel with a travel short, The Yosemite.
27 August 1914The MasqueraderFilm Actor
31 August 1914His New ProfessionCharlie
24 September 1914The New JanitorJanitor
10 October 1914Those Love PangsMasher
26 October 1914Dough and DynamiteWaiterTwo reels. Co-writer: Mack Sennett
29 October 1914Gentlemen of NerveImpecunious Track Enthusiast
7 November 1914His Musical CareerPiano Mover
9 November 1914His Trysting PlaceHusbandTwo reels
5 December 1914Getting AcquaintedSpouse
7 December 1914His Prehistoric PastWeakchinTwo reels


Chaplin wrote, directed, and starred in 15 films for the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company, 13 of them featuring the Tramp character, all produced by Jesse T. Robbins. Except where noted, all films are two-reelers.

Release dateTitleCredited asNotes
1 February 1915His New JobFilm Extra
15 February 1915A Night OutRevellerDebut of Edna Purviance
11 March 1915The ChampionAspiring Pugilist
18 March 1915In the ParkCharlieOne reel
1 April 1915A Jitney ElopementSuitor, the Fake Count
11 April 1915The TrampThe Tramp
29 April 1915By the SeaStrollerOne reel
21 June 1915WorkDecorator's Apprentice
12 July 1915A WomanCharlie / "The Woman"
9 August 1915The BankJanitor
4 October 1915ShanghaiedCharlie
27 May 1916PoliceEx-Convict
11 August 1918Triple TroubleJanitorCompilation assembled by Leo White with scenes from Police and an unfinished short, Life, along with new material shot by White. Chaplin includes this production in the filmography of his autobiography. Yet considered some not to be proper Tramp film, as Chaplin wasn't involved in this films production. Released two years after Chaplin left Essanay.


Chaplin wrote, produced, directed, and starred in 12 films for the Mutual Film Corporation, ten of which had Chaplin dressed as the character, while the remaining two were pseudo-Tramp films where he wore the mustache but dressed in different clothes. Mutual formed Lone Star Studios solely for Chaplin's films. All of the Mutual releases are two reels in length. In 1932, Amadee J. Van Beuren of Van Beuren Studios purchased Chaplin's Mutual comedies for $10,000 each, added music by Gene Rodemich and Winston Sharples and sound effects, and re-released them through RKO Radio Pictures.[16]

Release dateTitleCredited asNotes
15 May 1916The FloorwalkerImpecunious CustomerCo-writer: Vincent Bryan
Released prior to Chaplin's last Essanay film.
12 June 1916The FiremanFiremanCo-writer: Vincent Bryan
Chaplin doesn't wear the Tramp's clothes, but wears oversized clothes and acts similarly to the character.
10 July 1916The VagabondStreet MusicianCo-writer: Vincent Bryan
7 August 1916One A.M.DrunkChaplin doesn't wear the Tramp's clothes, but wears rich mans clothes and acts similarly to the character.
4 September 1916The CountTailor's Apprentice
2 October 1916The PawnshopPawnbroker's Assistant
13 November 1916Behind the ScreenProperty Man's Assistant
4 December 1916The RinkWaiter and Skating Enthusiast
22 January 1917Easy StreetVagabond recruited to Police Force
16 April 1917The CureAlcoholic Gentleman at SpaConsidered by some to be the Tramp
17 June 1917The ImmigrantImmigrantAdded to the National Film Registry in 1998.[17]
22 October 1917The AdventurerEscaped ConvictA tuxedo version of the Tramp costume is worn

First National

Chaplin wrote, produced, directed, and starred in nine films for his own production company between 1918 and 1923. In all but one of them Chaplin dressed as the character, the exception being The Pilgrim. These films were distributed by First National.

Release dateTitleCredited asNotes
14 April 1918A Dog's LifeThe TrampThree reels. Score composed for compilation, The Chaplin Revue
29 September 1918The BondThe TrampHalf-reel. Co stars brother Sydney Chaplin
20 October 1918Shoulder ArmsRecruitThree reels. Score composed for compilation, The Chaplin Revue.
15 May 1919SunnysideFarm HandymanThree reels. Score composed for 1974 re-release.
15 December 1919A Day's PleasureFatherTwo reels. First film with Jackie Coogan, future star of The Kid. Score composed for 1973 re-release.
6 February 1921The KidThe TrampSix reels. Score composed for 1971 re-release. Added to the National Film Registry in 2011.[18]
25 September 1921The Idle ClassThe Tramp/ HusbandTwo reels. Score composed for 1971 re-release.
2 April 1922Pay DayLaborerTwo reels. Score composed for 1972 re-release. Chaplin's final short (of less than 30 minutes running time).
26 February 1923The PilgrimEscaped ConvictConsidered by many to be a Tramp film, though Chaplin's character is not very much like the Tramp. Most notably, the character wears different clothes. By extension of this, every Chaplin film is considered by some to be a Tramp film, though this is apparently apocryphal. Four reels. Score composed for compilation, The Chaplin Revue.

United Artists

Chaplin wrote, produced, directed, and/or starred in eight films for United Artists, though only four of them featured the Tramp character, five if The Great Dictator is included. Chaplin also wrote the musical scores, beginning with City Lights.

Release dateTitleCredited asNotes
26 June 1925The Gold RushLone ProspectorScore and new narriation composed for 1942 re-issue. Added to the National Film Registry in 1992.[19]
6 January 1928The CircusThe TrampScore composed for 1970 re-issue. The Academy Film Archive preserved The Circus in 2002.[20]
30 January 1931City LightsThe TrampAdded to the National Film Registry in 1991.[21]
5 February 1936Modern TimesA factory worker (the Tramp)Added to the National Film Registry in 1989.[22]
Release dateTitleCredited asNotes
15 October 1940The Great DictatorAdenoid Hynkel / The BarberAdded to the National Film Registry in 1997.[23] Nominated for Academy Award for Best Actor, Best Picture and Best Writing.[24] The film is considered by many, including Chaplin, to not be a Tramp film, though he does act like the Tramp as The Barber.


In the 1910s, due to the desire for more Chaplin films than Chaplin could make, many created their own character like the Tramp or even just played the Tramp. This has continued, though to a much lesser degree, after the 1910s due to people admiring Chaplin. Some films have been animated and obviously do not need an actor to play the character, who is portrayed as mute.

The most famous impersonation is that by Billy West.

Billy West films where he imitates the Tramp (list incomplete)

  1. His Married Life (1916)
    1. There is a lack of information on this film. It is unknown if Billy is playing the Tramp.
  2. Bombs and Boarders (1916)
  3. His Waiting Career (1916)
  4. Back Stage (1917)
  5. The Hero (1917)
  6. Dough Nuts (1917)
  7. Cupid's Rival (1917)
  8. The Villain (1917)
    1. There is a lack of information on this film. It is unknown if Billy is playing the Tramp.
  9. The Millionaire (1917)
  10. The Goat (1917)
    1. There is a lack of information on this film. It is possible Billy is not playing the Tramp, but due to films released around it having the character, it is unlikely.
  11. The Fly Cop (1917)
  12. The Chief Cook (1917)
  13. The Candy Kid (1917)
  14. The Hobo (1917)
  15. The Pest (1917)
  16. The Band Master (1917)
  17. The Slave (1917)
  18. Billy the Hotel Guest (1917)
    1. There is a lack of information on this film. It is unknown if Billy is playing the Tramp.
  19. The Stranger (1918)
  20. Bright and Early (1918)
  21. The Rogue (1918)
  22. His Day Out (1918)
  23. The Orderly (1918)
    1. There's a lack of information on this film. It is possible Billy is not playing the Tramp, but due to films released around it having the character, it is unlikely.
  24. The Scholar (1918)
  25. The Messenger (1918)
    1. There's a lack of information on this film. It is possible Billy is not playing the Tramp, but due to films released around it having the character, it is unlikely.
  26. The Handy Man (1918)
  27. The Straight and Narrow (1918)
    1. There's a lack of information on this film. It is possible Billy is not playing the Tramp, but due to films released around it having the character, it is unlikely.
  28. Playmates (1918)
  29. Beauties in Distress (1918)
    1. There's a lack of information on this film. It is possible Billy is not playing the Tramp, but due to films released around it having the character, it is unlikely.
  30. He's in Again (1918)

Animated films (incomplete list)

  1. Charlie and the Windmill (1915)
  2. Charlie and the Indians (1915)
  3. Dreamy Dud Sees Charlie Chaplin (1915)
  4. Charlie's White Elephant (1916)
  5. How Charlie Captured the Kaiser (1918)
  6. Over the Rhine with Charlie (1918)
  7. Charlie in Turkey (1919)
  8. Charlie Treats 'Em Rough (1919)
  9. Charley Out West (1919)
  10. Charley on the Farm (1919)
  11. Charley at the Beach (1919)
  12. Felix in Hollywood (1923) (cameo)




  1. "Charlie Chaplin: Filming Modern Times".
  2. Charlie Chaplin (November 1933), "A Comedian Sees the World", Woman's Home Companion
  3. Truffaut, François (22 August 1994). The films in my life (1st Da Capo Press ed.). Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-80599-8.
  4. David Robinson (2014), Chaplin: His Life And Art, p. 137, ISBN 978-0141979182
  5. DePastino, Todd (2003), Citizen Hobo: How a Century of Homelessness Shaped America, University of Chicago Press, p. 157
  6. Murray, Chris (2017). The British Superhero. University Press of Mississippi. p. 22.
  7. Frayling, Christopher (19 October 2012). "Charlie Chaplin: how he turned into the Tramp". Retrieved 16 December 2018.
  8. Hansmeyer, Christian (2007), Charlie Chaplin's Techniques for the Creation of Comic Effect in His Films, p. 4
  9. Maland 1991, p. 151.
  10. Maland 1991, p. 152.
  11. Maland 1991, p. 153.
  12. Maland 1991, p. 150.
  13. Maland 1991, p. 110.
  14. Maland 1991, p. 113.
  15. Robinson, p. 113.
  16. SilentComedians entry Archived 12 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  17. "Hooray for Hollywood – Librarian Names 25 More Films to National Registry" (Press release). Library of Congress. 16 November 1998. Retrieved 29 September 2009.
  18. "'Forrest Gump,' 'Bambi' join US film registry – Classic movies among 25 chosen for preservation by Library of Congress". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 8 January 2012. Retrieved 28 December 2011 via MSNBC.
  19. "25 American films are added to the National Film Registry". The Prescott Courier. Associated Press. 7 December 1992. Retrieved 29 September 2009.
  20. "Preserved Projects". Academy Film Archive.
  21. Andrews, Roberts M. (11 October 1991). "25 Films Designated For Preservation" (Fee required). St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
  22. "Films Selected to The National Film Registry, Library of Congress 1989–2009". Library of Congress. Library of Congress. 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  23. "Librarian of Congress Names 25 New Films to National Film Registry" (Press release). Library of Congress. 18 November 1997. Retrieved 30 September 2009.
  24. "The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences". The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
  25. Khan, Ayaan (30 July 2020). Those Charlie Chaplin Feet - 1915. Archived from the original on 9 November 2020.
  26. Korkis, Jim (24 August 2016). "The Charlie Chaplin Connection Part Two: Mickey as Chaplin". MousePlanet.
  27. "Happy Birthday, Mickey Mouse! Fun facts about everyone's favorite mouse". ABC7 New York. 17 November 2017. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  28. Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: Khan, Ayaan (30 July 2020). Peter, Sue and Marc - Charlie Chaplin.
  29. Maasik, Sonia; Solomon, Jack (1994). Caputi, Jane (ed.). IBM's Charlie Chaplin: A Case Study. Signs of Life in the U.S.A.: Readings on Popular Culture for Writers. Boston: Bedford Books. pp. 117–121. ISBN 9780312108229 via University of Virginia. Alt URL
  30. Papson, Stephen (April 1990). "The IBM tramp". Jump Cut (35): 66–72.
  31. Mazumder, Ranjib (11 December 2015). "Before Brando, There Was Dilip Kumar". The Quint. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  32. "The 100 Greatest Performances" Archived August 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine


Further reading

Kevin Scott Collier. The Chaplin Animated Silent Cartoons. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2019. ISBN 1098846044

На других языках

- [en] The Tramp

[es] Charlot

Charlot (expresión de origen francés que pasó al español; en inglés no se usa sino el original The Tramp, «el Vagabundo»)[1] es uno de los más memorables personajes de Charles Chaplin, y un icono mundial de la era del cine mudo.[2]

[fr] Charlot

Charlot est un personnage de fiction, un vagabond interprété par l'acteur britannique Charlie Chaplin dans la plupart de ses films, plus précisément une soixantaine de films courts à partir des années 1910.

[it] Charlot

Charlot (Charlie), noto anche come "il vagabondo", è un personaggio immaginario protagonista di una serie di film del cinema muto ideato e interpretato da Charlie Chaplin.[1][2] Il personaggio compare per la prima volta nel film Charlot ingombrante (1914).

[ru] Бродяга (персонаж)

Бродя́га Ча́рли (англ. The Tramp, Charlie the Tramp), также Ма́ленький Бродяга (англ. The Little Tramp) — трагикомический киноперсонаж, созданный и сыгранный великим английским и американским актёром и режиссёром Чарли Чаплином. Чарли — вечный скиталец и бродяга, но при этом добрый и милосердный романтик.

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