September 19, 1952 The United States bars film legend Charlie Chaplin from reentering the country after a trip to England until he is investigated by the Immigration Services after pressure was applied by then FBI director Herbert Hoover.
Although Chaplin had his major successes in the United States and was a resident from 1914 to 1952, he always retained his British nationality. During the era of McCarthyism, Chaplin was accused of "un-American activities" as a suspected communist sympathiser; and J. Edgar Hoover, who had instructed the FBI to keep extensive secret files on him, tried to end his United States residency. FBI pressure on Chaplin grew after his 1942 campaign for a second European front in the war, and reached a critical level in the late 1940s, when Congressional figures threatened to call him as a witness in hearings. This was never done, probably from the fear of Chaplin's ability to lampoon the investigators.
Although rarely talked about there was a lot of collusion between Joe McCarthy and Herbert Hoover. Many of the communists “outted” by the McCarthy committee were just rumors and gossip about people passed on by Hoover. Some believe this allowed Hoover to exact retribution without being directly involved. Hoover and McCarthy both believed that criticism of the country and specifically their actions meant you were unpatriotic. Sound like any current situation?
In 1952, Chaplin left the US for what was intended as a brief trip home to England; Hoover learned of it and negotiated with the INS to revoke his re-entry permit. Chaplin then decided to stay in Europe, and made his home in Vevey, Switzerland. He briefly returned to the United States in April 1972, with his wife, to receive an Honorary Oscar. Even though he was invited by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the Academy Awards), he was only issued a one-time entry visa valid for a period of two months. However, by this time the animosities towards the now elderly and apolitical Chaplin had faded, and his visit was a triumphant success.