Sunday, February 19, 2012

MI5 files: Was Chaplin really a Frenchman and called Thornstein?

MI5 investigated whether Charlie Chaplin was actually a Frenchman called Israel Thornstein, previously secret files on the Hollywood film star have revealed.

Intelligence officers could find no trace of the actor's birth in Britain despite Chaplin always claiming he was born in London in 1889.

The mystery surrounding his origins emerged when the US authorities asked MI5 to look into the comic actor's background after he left America in 1952 under a cloud of suspicion over his communist links.

But British officers could find no birth certificate and the earliest official record was a passport issued in 1920.

They investigated suggestions he was born in Fontainebleau, near Paris, or nearby Melun, while the Americans claimed his real name was Israel Thornstein and raised the idea he may have been a Russian Jew.

Despite extensive searches, MI5 could find no evidence of any of the claims leaving his true origins a mystery to this day. Read More