Sydney Earl Chaplin was in Beverly Hills, California on March 30, 1926. He was the second son of Charlie Chaplin and Lita Grey. Sydney was born five weeks prematurely, 10 months after the birth of his older brother Charles Jr.. His parents divorced a year after his birth. He later had eight half-siblings from their father's fourth marriage to Oona O'Neill.
His mother insisted on calling him "Tommy" due to her distaste for his father's half-brother Sydney, after whom he had been officially named. Sydney and his older brother were mostly brought up by their maternal grandmother, while his mother attempted to advance her career as a singer. The family spent most of one year in Nice, France, where the boys became fluent in French.
Chaplin was educated at Black-Foxe Military Institute, Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, and North Hollywood High School.
After serving in the United States Army in the World War II in Europe, Chaplin turned to acting both on stage and in films. He gained early acting experience in The Circle Theater, now known as El Centro Theatre, including acting in three plays directed by his father. He also appeared in several Broadway productions, including Bells Are Ringing opposite Judy Holliday in 1957, for which he won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical, and Funny Girl opposite Barbra Streisand in 1964, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. Chaplin also had supporting roles in two of his father's films, Limelight (1952) and A Countess from Hong Kong (1967).
In 1960 Chaplin married French dancer and actress Noëlle Adam, by whom he had one son, Stephan (1960- ). He moved to Europe and appeared in several European films including three Euro-westerns.
Chaplin retired from acting in the 1970s, and in the 1980s owned and managed a restaurant, Chaplin's, in Palm Springs, California. In 1998, after a 14-year engagement, he married his second wife, Margaret Beebe. He seldom indulged in public appearances. Notable exceptions were his attendance at the Cineteca di Bologna festival (Il Cinema Ritrovato), which mounted a fiftieth anniversary screening of Limelight held in 2002, and at Cinecon in Los Angeles in 1998, and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in 2004, where he spoke after screenings of his father’s film The Circus to promote film historian Jeffrey Vance’s Chaplin books.
Chaplin helped complete and publish his mother's 1998 autobiography, Wife of the Life of the Party. He also wrote the book's foreword, where he shared some of his own history and private thoughts on his parents.
On March 3, 2009, Chaplin died at his home in Rancho Mirage, California, of a stroke, at the age of 82.
CHAPLIN, Sydney (aka Sidney Chaplin) (Sydney Earl Chaplin) [3/30/1926, Beverly Hills, California, U.S.A. – 3/3/2009, Rancho Mirage, California, U.S.A. (stroke)] – writer, theater, film actor, son of Charlie Chaplin (Charles Spencer Chaplin) [1889-1977] actress Lita Grey (Lillita Louise MacMurray) [1908-1995], stepson of Oona Chaplin (Oona O'Neill) [1925-1991], stepfather sportswriter Arthur Day, brother of Charles Chaplin Jr. (Charles Spencer Chaplin Jr.) [1925-1968], half-brother of writer, dancer, film, TV actress Geraldine Chaplin (Geraldine Leigh Chaplin) [1944- ], producer, writer, actor Michael Chaplin (Michael John Chaplin) [1946- ], actress singer Josephine Chaplin (Josephine Hannah Chaplin) [1949- ], circus performer Victoria Chaplin [1951- ], director, writer, composer, actor Christopher Chaplin (Christopher James Chaplin) [1962- ], married to dancer, actress Noëlle Adam (1960-1968) father of Stephan Chaplin [1961- ], married to Margaret Beebe [1950- ] (1998- 2009), owned Chaplin’s Restaurant in Palm Springs, California [1988-1998].
Sartana – 1967 (Jeff Stewal (as Sidney Chaplin)
Tierra Brava – 1968 (Jacques Latour)
Death Knows No Time - 1969 (Red Stacy)