Sydney Chaplin



Born: March 30, 1926
London, England

Died: March 3, 2009
Rancho Mirage, California

Sydney Chaplin, the Broadway actor who won a Tony Award playing opposite Judy Holliday in Bells Are Ringing, and was nominated as Nicky Arnstein in Funny Girl, died March 3, 2009, at his home in Rancho Mirage, CA. He was 82. Longtime family friend Jerry Bodie told The Associated Press that Mr. Chaplin had recently suffered a stroke.

Widely known as the son of film legend Charlie Chaplin (he was named after the silent film star's older half-brother), Mr. Chaplin nevertheless carved out a nice career of his own, and is remembered primarily for three Broadway musicals — Bells Are Ringing, for which he won a Best Featured Actor Tony; Subways Are for Sleeping (by the authors of Bells Are Ringing) and Funny Girl, in which his gambler character, Nicky Arnstein, broke Fanny Brice's heart. (He got two duets with her nonetheless.)

Mr. Chaplin was nominated for a Best Actor Tony for Funny Girl in 1964. His co-star Barbra Streisand became a legend in the role of Fanny on stage and film; Mr. Chaplin's role was played by Omar Sharif in the movie.

Mr. Chaplin's warm and grainy baritone is heard on cast albums of his three Broadway musicals, which all had scores by composer Jule Styne. He played a depressed playwright, Jeff Moss, who is invigorated by Holliday in Bells Are Ringing. The pair introduced the standard "Just in Time" and the ballad "Long Before I Knew You," which fans consider a neglected gem by Styne and lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green. (Dean Martin played the role in the M-G-M film version.)

In Comden, Green and Styne's Subways Are for Sleeping (1961), a now dated musical comedy about colorful homeless people who once had prosperous lives, he introduced the song "I'm Just Taking My Time" and sang the manic tale of a corporate king's downfall, "Swing Your Projects."

His other Broadway credits were Goodbye, Charlie, a 1959 George Axelrod play starring starring Lauren Bacall as Charlie, and a short-lived 1962 production of In the Counting House.

Mr. Chaplin was featured in two of his father's later films, "Limelight" (1952) and "The Countess from Hong Kong" (1967).

"I think anyone who feels his life has been scarred because of the fame of his father is a bore," he told the AP in 1967.

Mr. Chaplin was the second son of Charlie Chaplin and his teen-age second wife, Lita Grey. Their scandalous divorce made headlines around the globe. Their other son, Charles Chaplin Jr., died in 1968.

According to the Associated Press, when Mr. Chaplin was having Broadway success, his father was unable to witness it. Charlie Chaplin was living overseas with his fourth wife, Oona. The U.S. would not let English-born Chaplin into the country over charges he associated with Communists.

Mr. Chaplin married Margaret Beebe in 1998 after a 14-year engagement, according to AP. His former wives are actress Noelle Adam and Susan Magnes. His survivors include his wife, Margaret, and a son, Stephan Chaplin.



Playbill Cover - Funny Girl Funny Girl
Mar. 26, 1964 - Jul. 1, 1967
Nick Arnstein Performer
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - In the Counting House In the Counting House
Dec. 13, 1962 - Dec. 15, 1962
Woody Hartman Performer
Playbill Cover - Subways Are for Sleeping Subways Are for Sleeping
Dec. 27, 1961 - Jun. 23, 1962
Tom Bailey Performer
Playbill Cover - Goodbye, Charlie Goodbye, Charlie
Dec. 16, 1959 - Mar. 19, 1960
George Tracy Performer
Playbill Cover - Bells Are Ringing Bells Are Ringing
Nov. 29, 1956 - Mar. 7, 1959
Jeff Moss Performer

Inside the Playbill (1)

See more Who's Who


Theatre World

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1957 Theatre World Award Bells Are Ringing Winner

Tony Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1964 Actor in a Musical Funny Girl Nominee
1957 Featured Actor in a Musical Bells Are Ringing Winner
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