Edna Purviance's bio

Currently working on Edna Purviance's family biography. Draft is done. Photo: Leading Ladies © used by ednapurviance.org

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Page from Chaplin's Past

During the marriage of Charlie Chaplin and Lita Grey Chaplin, a party was held at Chaplin's house in Beverly Hills. Mrs. Chaplin decided to have an unplanned party on her own and invited her friends to her home. Chaplin walked in on the party, and to kindly say it, was not pleased. One of the guest was Baron and Baroness De Precourt, who would not talk about the evening in late 1926...

Baron in S.F. Refuses to Tell of Chaplin Party - San Francisco, December 4, 1926
Still refusing to discuss details of the party they attended which split the Charles Chaplin household, the Baron and Baroness De Precourt left San Francisco today for the east.

"I can say nothing about it," the baron emphasized. "We were guests of Mrs. Chaplin and were entertained in her home. Certainly no gentleman can discuss what occurs in the residence of his hostess".

The Baron did deny that it was a "wild party".

Asked if intoxicants were served, he said: "Why, this is a dry country. What could we have had to drink under such conditions?"

"No, I cannot discuss Chaplin's attitude, either. Perhaps, he was nervous."
________________________
Edna Note: Edna grew-up with parties at her home in Nevada as her mother and sisters loved social events. At Edna's LA home, parties with friends and family were common and some were unplanned. Just one of the differences between Edna and Charlie.

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3 comments:

Paul C. said...

This incident was cited by both Chaplin and Lita in their respective divorce filings. The party (thrown by Lita, but paid for by Chaplin) was being held at a nightclub, and Lita impulsively invited all the guests back to the Summit Drive house, probably because they were disappointed that Chaplin was not in attendance. When Chaplin arrived home late after an exhausting day at work on "The Circus", he flew into a rage and threw everyone out. Lita cited it to back up her charge of cruelty. Chaplin claimed it was part of her attempts to undermine his work, which he claimed required his total energy and focus. Chaplin's later wives apparently never crossed this line, as did the immature Lita.

Edna's Place said...

Being the wife of Chaplin would not been easy for any woman. Oona made it look easy, but it was something she wanted more than anything.

Lita Grey Chaplin probably knew she was not to have anyone at the house, unless Chaplin knew of it. By the time this event happen, the marriage was already over. (It was over, before the marriage started.) But she may have thought, why not invite these people to my home. She was married to Chaplin, she had two of his children and it was her home too. But she knew Chaplin's temper and more than likely knew what he would do seeing all these people in their home.

This event did give them the fuel to move on with ending the marriage. If not this, something else would have.

Lita was a teenager and immature, as many teenagers are. That is where Chaplin made his mistake in getting involved with her in the first place. But when Chaplin set his mind to something, few people were going to stop him. Chaplin made that relationship happen.

But in the writing about Oona (another teenager), Oona went for Chaplin. Chaplin was cool, at first, but warmed to it. It worked out for them as a couple, to the dismay of the world.

But to me, it was Oona that made that relationship really work. Oona was also part of a famous family and had an insight Lita Grey never had. But Chaplin was also interested in making the relationship with Oona work. He not interested in Lita Grey, as a wife, and that relationship was doomed to fail.

It is just sad Chaplin could not see himself in making Oona stronger as an individual, independence of him. He knew she could live many more years without him. If he tried in making that happen for her, maybe she would still be with us today.

As for the Lita Grey marriage, it is part of history now. But we still have Sydney Chaplin Jr, with us, and he would be one certainly glad it happen...

Thanks for writing in Paul...

Paul C. said...

It was very interesting to see a contemporary press account of that party - thank you for posting it.

You are so right to point out that entire doomed Lita debacle (excluding the two fine children it produced) was squarely Chaplin's fault - even more so because he was a veteran of an almost identical earlier marriage!

I also agree with your realistic view of Chaplin's fourth marriage to Oona O'Neill. Most writers marvel at how close they were, but I see it as an extreme co-dependent relationship (although I don't doubt the deep love they obviously felt). The marriage was very beneficial to Chaplin, but you are right in that it did not benefit his widow at all in her later years. Contrast it with Keaton's marriage to his younger final wife Eleanor - she also devoted her life to her famous husband, but didn't lose herself in him, and survived him by over 30 years. But as you point out, Oona was very damaged by her father's neglect and abandonment - and Keaton certainly didn't have Chaplin's demanding, monumental ego either!