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Charlie Chaplin's Last Home in Geneva to Become a Museum
Hollywood will be recreated in the form of film sets in two annex buildings.

By: Frank Jordans, Associated Press Writer

GENEVA (AP).- Charlie Chaplin's last home in Switzerland will be turned into a permanent place of pilgrimage for fans of the actor who immortalized the "Little Tramp," one of his sons said Monday.

The mansion at Corsier-sur-Vevey by the shores of Lake Geneva was chosen over Los Angeles and London as the site of the first museum dedicated to the screen legend, said Michael Chaplin.

The museum has been a decade in the planning and will be finished within two years, he said. It will feature objects from Chaplin's life and displays chronicling his rise from the music halls of his native London to stardom in Hollywood's silent movie era and beyond.

"He was very happy here because he had a family life," Michael Chaplin said of the vintner's chateau where his father lived for more than 20 years and raised eight children until his death in 1977.

The actor whose film classics include "The Immigrant," ''City Lights" and "The Great Dictator," was barred from the United Stated in 1952 during the peak of McCarthyism over suspicions he harbored communist sympathies. He returned briefly two decades later to receive an honorary Academy Award for his life work.

The mansion, with its extensive gardens and woodland area, was home to brothers Michael and Eugene Chaplin, and their families for over 10 years.

"All the time we were here we had people coming to the door asking if they could walk around," said Michael, 63, the actor's fifth of 11 children. "Sometimes whole buses would come and we'd open up the gate to let them walk around the park. That put the seed of the idea in our minds that when we left it should become a museum."

But neighbors opposed to the plan, and it languished in local politics for years before authorities accepted the $50 million project. The actor's son credited chocolate maker Nestle, which is based nearby, with helping to get approval.

He said the old wine cellars with their vaulted ceilings will be used to evoke the Victorian-era London of Chaplin's youth. "It's got that atmosphere down there of dark cobbled walkways."

Hollywood will be recreated in the form of film sets in two annex buildings, with a giant recreation of the machine from "Modern Times" that Chaplin used to portray the desperation of factory workers.

The displays will also include footage from his movies and holographic narrators.

"To have a completely static museum doesn't really suit someone who was in the cinema," Chaplin's son said. "Cinema is photographs that move, so the idea was to have something of that nature."

The main building will feature his father's library, the piano at which he composed film scores and a desk where he wrote his autobiography and scripts for two of his movies.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Chaplin Museum | Charlie Chaplin | Screen Legend |

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