Former Laureates

Charles Chaplin

Charles Chaplin


In 1965 the Erasmus Prize was awarded to both Charles Chaplin and Ingmar Bergman, representing the art of film.
Charles Spencer Chaplin was born in London in 1889, the son of theatre and variety artists. At an early age he appeared on the stage in London and went on tour in Europe. In 1910 he left for the USA, where he soon established his own studio. Chaplin was the scriptwriter, director, leading actor, and often also the composer of almost all his films. He left the USA in 1952 because of the political climate, and settled in Switzerland, where he died in 1977. Charles Chaplin became world famous for his creation of Charlie the tramp, the vulnerable little man who struggles to survive in the world of money and power. He was awarded the Erasmus Prize for his extensive and universally appreciated oeuvre, marked by its masterly poetic blend of seriousness, humour, and strong social compassion, which made a great contribution to the development of the cinema from an industry into an art. Moreover, he remained the representative of the delicate balance of collective and individual values, of the absolute and the relative, the serious message and comic relief. His autobiography appeared in 1964; his most important films include: The Gold Rush (1925), City Lights (1931), Modern Times (1936), The Great Dictator (1940), Monsieur Verdoux (1947) and Limelight (1952).

Charles Chaplin devoted most of his prize money to the Emmaus Community of Abbé Pierre. The then Chairman of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation, A. Engel, presented a sum of money to Abbé Pierre at Haarzuilens, the headquarters of the community in the Netherlands. The rest of the money was made available to the Dutch Film Academy, to make a film about international children’s theatre.

Ingmar Bergman filming on location

Director Ingmar Bergman shooting on location. The Erasmus Prize 1965 was awarded to Ingmar Bergman and Charles Chaplin.

Modern Times

The actor and filmmaker Charles Chaplin was awarded the Erasmus Prize in 1965, together with director Ingmar Bergman.