Charlie Chaplin, the London slum boy who became the world's most famous film comedian, will be buried today in a simple ceremony in the Swiss village of Corsier-sur-Vevey, where he lived for nearly 25 years.
Known as Charlot to his Swiss neighbors and as the Little Tramp to moviegoers worldwide, Chaplin, 88, died in his sleep Christmas morning. His wife and seven of the couple's eight children were at his bedside.
Only the immediate family and a few close friends will attend the service conducted by the Rev. Richard Thomason, household members said. Chaplin will be buried in the Village cemetery on a hillside overlooking Lake Geneva.
His wife, Oona, who is the daughter of the late American playwright Eugene O'Neill, had asked that the funeral be private. Chaplin had shunned the spotlight in his later years.
Rachel Ford, Chaplin's longtime business manager and friend, said eight of Chaplin's children, including Sydney Chaplin, his son from a previous marriage, would attend the funeral. Actress-daughter Geraldine, 33, was making a movie in Spain and could not get away, Ford said.
Tributes continued to pour in from Hollywood stars and admirers around the world for the man with the twirling cane and shuffling walk who dominated the silent film industry in the 1920s.
New China News Agency reported with unusual promptness the death of Chaplin, who for many Chinese was the greatest comic of Western cinema.
The agency emphasized Charlie Chaplin's "many satires on the social system of capitalism" and his "biting satire on fascism" in the film "The Great Dictator." It cited several other Chaplin films including "The Gold Rush," "City Lights" and "Modern Times".
Charlie Chaplin visited China several times, the last time in 1954 when he posed for photographs with former Prime Minister Chou En-lai.
It was the British-born comedian's visionary talent that made him a "victim of the McCarthy witch-hunt period," the news agency said. Chaplin's alleged communist associations were investigated by the House Committee on Un-American Activities and he was barred from re-entering the United States in 1952.
His estrangement with the United States and Hollywood ended in 1972 when he was awarded a special Oscar by the film actors' society. Three years later he was knighted at Buckingham Palace by Queen Elizabeth II.
IN other tributes, the Vatican radio said Chaplin had "attained unsurpassable heights as an artist, creator and director.
"The little man with the came and bowler hat was and will remain the hearts of all, big and small . . . Nobody, as he did, know how to enter the hidden recesses of the human heart with a simplicity and popularity that became legendary, succeeding in causing laughter by weeping and weeping by laughter," it said.
Those European newspapers that published yesterday printed front-page banner headlines on Chaplin's death, most of them saying, in different languages, "Good-by Charlie."
The local newspaper in the Vevey region, The Tribune, said Chaplin left behind "the memory of a genius who summarized our entire destiny, sorrows and happiness, strength and distress, violence and tenderness."
"Charlie Chaplin is the funniest and the saddest figure of silent and sound films," the influential Belgrade Daily Politika said in a front-page report.