Chaplin was born in Beverly Hills, California. His mother was Charlie Chaplin's second wife, Mexican-American Lita Grey, and he was the elder brother of actor Sydney Chaplin. He was also half-brother to Geraldine Chaplin, Michael Chaplin, Josephine Chaplin, Victoria Chaplin, Eugene Chaplin, Jane Chaplin, Annette Chaplin, Christopher Chaplin and Norman Chaplin.
As young children, he and his brother were used as pawns in their mother's bitter divorce from Charlie Chaplin, during which a lot of the couple's "dirty linen" was aired in sensational-and very public-divorce hearings. Following the divorce, the young brothers were raised by their mother and maternal grandmother until the mid-1930s, when they began to make frequent visits to their father.
Chaplin attended the Black-Foxe Military Institute in Hollywood and The Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. He also served in the US Army in Europe during World War II.
Charlie Chaplin Jr. married Susan Magness, an actress in 1958. They lived in Los Angeles, CA. They had one child, Susan Maree Chaplin, in May 1959. They were divorced in 1959. His ex-wife and daughter still live in Los Angeles, CA.
Chaplin Jr. acted in 13 films, appearing with his father in Limelight (1952). He was on stage with his brother, Sydney Chaplin in the play Ethan Frome at the Circle Theatre, now named El Centro Theatre. In 1960 he wrote a book about his family life entitled My Father, Charlie Chaplin. He died of a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs).
He is buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, in Los Angeles with his grandmother Lillian Grey.