The craze that swept America in 1915 caught Chaplin by surprise. “I knew I was famous but didn’t know what fame meant,” he told a friend. In addition to seeing his picture in the papers every morning, everywhere he went his screen character “Charlie” was there to greet him--in playing cards, comic books, children’s games and toys. Chaplin couldn’t buy a tube of toothpaste at his local drugstore without running into little tramp souvenirs on sale at the cash register. For an in-depth discussion of his unprecedented worldwide celebrity see Chaplin A Life, Chapter XIII). “I am known in parts of the world by people who have never heard of Jesus Christ," he could (and did) matter-of-factly state without exaggeration.
And by now, nearly one century later, Chaplin has also become what the classical scholar Maude Bodkin refers to as a world historical figure. Like Shakespeare and Cervantes, Chaplin’s “Charlie” has joined the immortal ranks of Falstaff and Don Quixote.