Thursday, July 4, 2013

Charlie Chaplin, Gene Kelly and Steve Jobs on Patriotism

Since it is July 4th, I thought I'd talk about these three men and their feelings toward the United States, nationalism and their politics.  All three have had questions about their indifferent or non-nationalistic feelings.

Chaplin was not an American citizen, but did live and pay a huge amount of taxes here for 40 years.  He was involved in the WWI war bond drive with many other Hollywood stars of the time.  He was questioned by Americans and by his home countrymen in England as to why he did not go back to enlist in the military, but this would have been a waste of his talents to have him die in the trenches fighting the Germans.  He did much more for the morale of the troops and the home front, both here and in the UK making people laugh during the war.  Those that complained of his lack of military service were and are short sighted.  His sons served honorably during WWII and even Einsenhower used his 1918 Shoulder Arms film as a morale booster for the troops during WWII.  He was the first public figure in the US to openly condemn Hitler when the US was staunchly isolationist and blind to the Jewish persecution leading up to and during the war.  His movie, The Great Dictator, helped push the anti Nazi movement, but he was condemned as a war monger as late as November of 1941.  The next month, with Pearl Harbor and the Axis powers forming against us, Chaplin would be vindicated.  Later when asked to speak in the place of a State Department official at a rally, he called for a 2nd front to help our ally, the Russians, and was condemned as a communist sympathizer.  He was always just a few steps ahead of government policy makers.  This finally led, in 1952, to his loss of reentry permission to the US and a 20 year absence.

Chaplin always felt that he was a citizen of the world and a humanist.  He disliked nationalism and war, but said that he would have gladly fought for his country if needed.

Chaplin was treated horribly by the same group of Nixon/McCarthyites who ran the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) that destroyed the careers of so many people in Hollywood and other professions.

Gene Kelly's wife, Betsy Blair was black listed by the same group of "Better Dead than Red" politicians.  Gene escaped this fate because Louis B. Mayer knew Kelly was not a communist, but Gene was part of a group of 10 major stars who went to Hollywood to condemn the HUAC decimation of the entertainment industry.

Gene was a loyal American, but against the regimentation of the military and war in general.  He was a Lieutenant in the Navy in WWII, but worked for two years making movies out of Washington, DC until 1946.  He desperately wanted to do his part for the war effort, but Mayer had held him back.

Gene was a left wing democrat taking part in many union negotiations, but never had any dealings with communists.  His wife, Betsy, was much farther to the left in her political feelings and it cost her.

There is not much on the political persuasion of Steve Jobs.  He escaped the draft while in college.  He  experimented with many types of drugs in the early 70s.  His visionary and single-minded focus on Apple Computer in his first stint running the company occupied all of his time.  He did not speak out on politics in any public forum.  Jobs was apolitical.  He was also agnostic.  He did love this nation and gave it and the world many wondrous products and an outlook on life and business that will be the model taught in business schools for many years to come.

All three men wished only to improve their craft and product for the world to enjoy.


  1. hi..Im student from Informatics engineering, this article is very informative, thanks for sharing :)

    1. Thank you for the comment and I hope to have my book out next year with much more information.


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