On ‘Moment of Laughter Day,’ See Charlie Chaplin Busting a Gut

Director and actor Charlie Chaplin laughs raucously during the making of his 1952 film, Limelight.
W. Eugene Smith—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Director and actor Charlie Chaplin laughs raucously during the making of his 1952 film, Limelight.
Actors
'50s

Need a good laugh? You’re in luck. Monday, April 14, is International Moment of Laughter Day, a non-denominational holiday dreamed up by writer, professional speaker and “humor consultant” Izzy Gesell. (One way to make yourself really laugh, according to Gesell: Get naked, and look in the mirror. Thanks a lot, Izzy.)

To mark the occasion, LIFE.com features this lovely picture of the one and only Charlie Chaplin utterly convulsed on the set of his 1952 career coda, Limelight. Here is the Silent Era icon on the set of his final major film, years after he had made his best-known works—masterpieces like City Lights, Modern Times and The Great Dictator. And yet, even in his 60s, the great filmmaker’s light appears undimmed.

The creator of the shambling, luckless Tramp, Chaplin’s tragicomic vision was perhaps forever shaped by his own difficult childhood.He grew up fatherless, and after his mother had a nervous breakdown, he spent time in a London orphanage. At times, he performed on the street for pennies.

Still, Chaplin would later insist, “a day without laughter is a day wasted.”

(It’s ironic that this raucously light-hearted photo was made by W. Eugene Smith, a cantankerous genius celebrated for his pictures of life’s bitterest struggles, rather than silver-screen frivolity.)

In the end, perhaps the happy fact of this brief meeting between two towering creative talents is reason enough for a smile. Or even a good laugh.
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Myles Little is an associate photo editor at TIME.

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