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Two grave robbers steal and ransom Charlie Chaplin’s body

Today on March 2nd 1978, two grave robbers steal Charlie Chaplin's body from a cemetary in Switzerland.

Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin, simply known as Charlie Chaplin, was a famous English actor and filmmaker. Chaplin was one of the most well-known and recognizable actors of the silent film era under his screen persona “the Tramp”. He had a challenging childhood, with a father that was absent and a mother who suffered from various mental illnesses. As a result, Chaplin began acting as a teenager to provide for himself. After eventually moving to the United States, he would become an internationally renowned member of the Hollywood elite. To this day, Chaplin continues to serve as an icon in pop culture.

Chaplin was not only an actor, but also directed and produced many of his films. Throughout the 1940s, he became increasingly political and socially opinionated in his films. In fact, some accused him of being a communist sympathizer, which led to a sharp decline in his popularity. Many of his films still rank among the best in history, including City Lights, The Kid, The Great Dictator, Modern Times and The Gold Rush. In 1972, he received an Honorary Academy Award for his many important contributions to the film industry. On Christmas Day in 1977, Chaplin passed away from a stroke at the age of 88. He was buried in the small Swiss village of Corsier-sur-Vevey where he had lived since 1953.

Less than two months later, his body was stolen from the graveyard in a shocking turn of events. Two unemployed refugees from Poland and Bulgaria were found responsible for one of history's most high profile body snatchings. His widow, Oona Chaplin, immediately received a ransom demand for $600,000. She refused to pay, citing her husband would have found it "ridiculous". Police finally found the culprits after a five week long investigation. His body was recovered from a corn field only one mile away from the Chaplin family home. Chaplin’s body was reburied and surrounded by reinforced concrete to avoid any future theft.


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