Stage comedy and vaudeville
Chaplin soon found work with a new company, and went on tour with his brother – who was also pursuing an acting career – in a comedy sketch called Repairs. In May 1906, Chaplin joined the juvenile act Casey’s Circus, where he developed popular burlesque pieces and was soon the star of the show. By the time the act finished touring in July 1907, the 18-year-old had become an accomplished comedic performer. He struggled to find more work, however, and a brief attempt at a solo act was a failure.
The Essanay Film Manufacturing Company of Chicago sent Chaplin an offer of $1,250 a week with a signing bonus of $10,000. He joined the studio in late December 1914, where he began forming a stock company of regular players, including Leo White, Bud Jamison, Paddy McGuire and Billy Armstrong. He soon recruited a leading lady – Edna Purviance, whom Chaplin met in a cafe and hired on account of her beauty. She went on to appear in 35 films with Chaplin over eight years; the pair also formed a romantic relationship that lasted into 1917.
Chaplin asserted a high level of control over his pictures and started to put more time and care into each film. There was a month-long interval between the release of his second production, A Night Out, and his third, The Champion.The final seven of Chaplin’s 14 Essanay films were all produced at this slower pace.