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Charlie Chaplain Dies, 1977
Film director and actor Charlie Chaplin arrivies in Plymouth after a 10-year absence from England. Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

For many people Christmas is a time to get together with family, so it's particularly sad when a loved one passes away on that day. This is especially true when that person brought more smiles and laughter into the world than just about anyone else. Such was the case with actor and comedian Charlie Chaplin, who died surrounded by family at his home in Switzerland on Christmas Day 1977.

Chaplin made a name for himself during the era of silent films. He brought audiences to tears with his knack for pantomime and slapstick, not to mention his iconic routines. One of his most famous personas was "the tramp," a good-hearted but bumbling hobo dressed in baggy pants, a tight coat and his trademark bowler hat. The film legend was also a master of satire, famously mocking German tyrant Adolf Hitler in the 1940 film "The Great Dictator."

It's hard to explain just how much people loved Chaplin. During his early career he was so popular that one New York theater screened his movies exclusively from 1914 to 1923. Paris declared a public holiday when Chaplin's film "The Kid" premiered in 1921. By the time Chaplin passed away at age 88, he had been involved in 80 movies over a 53-year career and was widely viewed as one of the most influential figures in the history of motion pictures [source: Crowther].