Photo Essays
1. Exile’s Return
2. Chaplin’s Parents
3. Hannah Chaplin’s Femmes Fatales
4. Playing Dress-Up  In The Land of Make Believe
5. Teenage Girls and Fear of Aging
6. Chaplin’s Three Teenage Wives
7. Mildred Harris
8. Lita Grey
9. Oona O’Neill
10. Chaplin’s Father
11. A Royal Lion
12. Vesta Tilley as Bertie
13. Ella Shields as Bertie
14. Making A Living
15. The Lion Comique’s Son: Dressed Like A Bum
16. Monsieur Verdoux as a Lion Comique
17. Calvero as a Lion Comique
18. The Lion Comique’s Son in the Limelight
19. Charlie as a Child
20. The Kid’s Lucky Break
21. Syd Chaplin
22. A Family Album of Theatrical Drunks
23. Chaplin’s Family Romance
24. Edna Purviance
25. Purviance’s Influence on Chaplin’s Character
26. Essanay
27. Chaplinitis
28. Chaplin’s Predecessors
29. Eye Contact: Audience-Performer Intimacy
30. Chaplin the Auteur
31. Chaplin’s Two Autobiographies
32. Going It Alone
33. The Circus
34. Autobiographical Starvation Scenes From The Gold Rush
35. Autobiographical Madness Scenes in Modern Times
36. Two British Music Hall Traditions and Topical Comedy
37. The Great Dictator
38. Fatal Attraction: Joan Barry
39. Monsieur Verdoux: Guillotine or Hatchet Job?
40. Limelight
Chaplin: A Life In Film
Home  |  Author  |  Photo Essays  |  Links  |  Blog  |  Events  |  Reviews  |  Contact
 The Circus

Lita Grey  (and her mother) also relied on   the tactical  strategy of an    out-of-wedlock  pregnancy to bring about a shotgun wedding with a  much less gullible and much more mistrustful Chaplin.   Despite his fears about being tricked into marrying  a manipulative and seductive teenage girl  for the second time in a row, Grey’s  pre-marital medical examination conclusively demonstrated  that she  actually was pregnant. Lita and her mother  categorically refused  to have an abortion. If  Chaplin   refused to marry  her daughter, Grey’s  mother threatened to press  charges    for corrupting the morals of a minor.

Ruefully recalling these first two intellectually  mis-matched  domestic experiences--with Mildred Harris and Lita Grey--Chaplin later said: “marriage is the quickest death of individuality known to man.”  As to the issue  of whether or not  Charlie  robbed  the cradle and took unfair advantage of a “dumb”  high school dropout, Will Rogers quipped: “This girl don’t need to go to school. Any girl smart enough to marry Charlie Chaplin should be lecturing at Vassar College on ‘Taking advantage of your opportunities.’"

Recalling   the  onset of  her “Napoleon-Josephine” affair with Chaplin many  years later, Grey wrote: “I wasn’t old enough or bright enough to know what the feelings I had for him added up to…[and]…what could a passably pretty kid of fifteen, who made fifteen-year-old conversation, possibly have that would interest him?” Chaplin’s recollection was that “her mother deliberately and continuously put Lita in my path. She encouraged our relations.” See photo above    of  15-year-old Grey, 35-year-old Chaplin  and  Grey’s  36-year-old mother Lillian signing The Gold Rush contract that laid the groundwork for  Lita and Charlie’s close daily proximity and  resulted  in her unplanned pregnancy (bottom right). Both views of who seduced who—Grey’s and Chaplin’s—are equally   plausible and non-contradictory.

Sam Goldwyn recalled: “I remember very well I warned Charlie several times about Lita and her mother. The latter kept track of Chaplin’s evening movements. If he went to a restaurant, mama was there with Lita, pushing the child under Charlie’s nose: if he went to the theater, mama was there with Lita. If ever I saw a girl waiting to be seduced, it was Lita.”

The Chaplin-Grey divorce settlement (the most lucrative in U.S. history  up to that time) was frequently referred to as “the second Gold Rush.” It was Grey who recalled  (in her memoirs) her overnight transformation in Chaplin’s eyes from  an innocent virgin to a golddigging whore. Of more than passing interest,  before Lita Grey became pregnant, Chaplin cast her  to play the lead female role of Georgia, the dance hall prostitute in The Gold Rush. The  heroine in The Gold Rush was unconsciously modeled on Chaplin’s mother’s real-life  experiences in a gold rush--see   “Charlie Chaplin’s Film Heroines” in Richard Schickel’s  The Essential Chaplin for the historical details of her  South African gold rush experiences. For Lita Grey’s memoirs see Jeffrey Vance’s Wife of the Life of the Party.
© 2008 All Essay Rights Reserved.

All images from Chaplin films made from 1918 onwards, Copyright © Roy
Export Company Establishment._Charles Chaplin and the Little Tramp are trademarks and/or
service marks of Bubbles Inc. S.A. and/or Roy Export Company
Establishment, used with permission.

the book
Check Out Recommended Books
Photo Essays with Picture and Video
Buy Recommended Chaplin Films
Visit Our News and Blog Page