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Wednesday, 2 January, 2002, 17:47 GMT
Chaplin building damaged in fire
Charlie Chaplin in The Kid
Chaplin classics include The Kid made in 1921
A Hollywood apartment block once owned by film star Charlie Chaplin has been badly damaged in a fire.

The vacant four-story Hillview Apartments is said to be the oldest apartment building on Hollywood Boulevard.

The block was built by movie mogul Jesse L Lasky in 1917.

Police are investigating the cause of the fire, which caused an estimated $500,000 (346,000) damage.

Lasky, who founded one of Hollywood's first movie studios, Famous Players-Lasky, built the Mediterranean-style apartment building to provide housing for his actors.

Abandoned

The director of the local historical society, Douglas Carlton, said the building played an important role in the early days of Hollywood.

He said: "Everybody that was anybody in the silent (movie) days lived there."

The building is located between the historic Pantages and El Capitan theatres.

However the block was long past its glory days and it was abandoned in 1994.

Chaplin was born in London in 1889, the son of two music hall entertainers.

Poster of The Great Dictator
Chaplin directed and starred in 90 films
In all, Chaplin directed and starred in 90 silent and sound movies over 60 years - including classics such as The Kid, The Gold Rush, Modern Times and The Great Dictator.

The life of the four-time married star was plagued by controversy and he was branded as having communist sympathies and refused re-entry to the US in 1953.

Chaplin eventually returned in 1972 to pick up an lifetime achievement award at the Academy Awards.

He was knighted in 1975, aged 86, but died two years later in Switzerland.

See also:

07 Jan 02 | Europe
Bodies found at Chaplin home
14 Mar 99 | Middle East
Chaplin family seeks $1m lottery payout
12 Jul 99 | Entertainment
Chaplin archive in the limelight
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