Grave Robbers Exhumed And Held Charlie Chaplin's Body For Ransom In 1978

By | February 27, 2020

Chaplin passed on Christmas Day

As a performer and director, Charlie Chaplin revolutionized filmmaking. He was one of the few people who successfully transitioned from vaudeville to silent films and then to talkies. By the time of his death, Chaplin's star was fading, but he was still a known quantity, which is why he was a target for grave robbers. Don't worry: He wasn't gone for long, and he made it back to his resting place safe and sound. Still, it was a wild weekend at Charlie's.

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Source: MGM

After a lengthy decline of health, Chaplin passed away at his home in Switzerland in the early hours of December 25, 1977, following a stroke in his sleep at 88 years old. Per his request, he was buried in the Corsier-sur-Vevey cemetery. He left behind his fourth wife, Oona, and their eight children, all of whom were horrified when they found out that Papa Charlie's body had been stolen out from under their noses.

Chaplin had nearly three months to rest

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Source: Little White Lies

On March 2, 1978, Charlie Chaplin's body was dug up from the Swiss cemetery by two unemployed men, Roman Wardas and Gantcho Ganev, who hoped to ransom him back to his family for a hefty fee. Before the body thieves could lay out their demands, however, the police broke the news to Chaplin's widow and children. His son, Eugene, told the Independent what it was like to receive that phone call:

We got a phone call from the police who said, look, somebody has dug up the grave. The coffin has gone. It was a horrendous thing to happen–especially in Switzerland where everything is so quiet.