What can you say about Chaplin that hasn't already been said? The first Chaplin film I ever saw was "The Great Dictator" and his speech at the end had me bawling like a little girl. The next film I saw was "Kid Auto Races at Venice", which is so simply hilarious I was again in tears, but from laughing. After reading a bunch of biographies he quickly became one of my favorites from the silent era, and out of Hollywood in general, for his generosity and that he never seemed to cop the attitude many famous people did/do.
Chaplin, born April 16, 1889, has always been one of the more influential to me because although not born in America he epitomizes the American dream - he came from absolutely nothing and became one of the wealthiest, most famous people in the world. Even to this day, there aren't many who see a picture of the tramp and don't know who it is.
The things he overcame and achieved make him one of my heroes. He went from literally living in a rat infested broom closet to being one of America's biggest film presences in only 10 years. Hollywood would've definitely been different without his interference in everything from directing to techniques used to capture scenes to the way the studio system ran. he was the only one who semi-successfully held out on talkies through almost 1940.
From poverty in England, to his introduction to the stage with Fred Karno, to his co-creation of United Artists, Chaplin is one of a handful from the pioneering days of film that still inspires and brings hope to today's underdogs. In any other time period he wouldn't have made it but his genius mixed with being in the right place at the right time propelled him to being one of the most recognizable figures, ever.
With Fairbanks and Pickford
A director, writer, actor, composer, he did it all. If anyone deserves to be commemorated over 100 years after their birth, it's Charlie.