Saturday, October 31, 2015

A fancy dress party given by Marion Davies at the Ambassador Hotel, c. April 1926*


Charlie, dressed as Napoleon, is between Marion and John Gilbert. Irving Thalberg is below Marion. At bottom left is Eleanor Boardman. Seated above her is Charlie’s second wife, Lita, dressed as Josephine. Evidently a highlight of the party was Chaplin, in costume, performing a solo Charleston dance. Read more about the party here and here and here.

Chaplin with Princess Bibesco, who at the time was a houseguest
of Douglas Fairbanks & Mary Pickford, who were also at the party.

*Many sources give the date of the party as 1925 but I believe the date is most likely April 1926 since Marion often hosted a costume party for W.R. Hearst's birthday which was at the end of April (others who were in attendance recall that it was a party for Hearst). Princess Bibesco, in the photo with Charlie above, was a houseguest of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford in the early part of 1926. In fact, she made the news when she had a horse riding accident at Pickfair in January. Lita claims in her first memoir that the party was held "after New Year's" and that her empire-waist dress was made to conceal her first pregnancy (Charlie, Jr. born May 1925). This could be partially correct since the party may have been held after the New Year--but in 1926 not 1925. However the problem with this scenario is that I don't believe Lita is pregnant here either. Her second son, Sydney, was born in March 1926 and she would have been noticeably pregnant during the first part of the year. To me, she doesn't look like a woman in the latter stages of her pregnancy in the photo. This was most likely after his birth when she still would have had some belly bulge, hence the empire waist dress. 

4 comments:

  1. Do you know if there are anymore photographs of Lita from this night? I think she looks so beautiful as empress Josephine

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    1. Yes, she did. There are no other photos (that I've seen) from this night but there is a photo of her after the divorce (in 1932) wearing some Napoleonic jewels from an exhibition in New York. I think she's pretty in this photo as well.
      http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-VZbp_yn1mNI/UwjPHAoZMEI/AAAAAAAATlc/LcyEDG3rolY/s1600/litanapoleon.JPG

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    2. Oh yes I have seen this photo before she looks very lovely, thank you for sharing this/the information.

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  2. Oh man what a shame! No footage of Charlie dressed as Napoleon dancing the Charleston, that would have been amusing to watch haha.

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