Tuesday, October 23, 2012

On this day in 1918, Mildred Harris became Charlie's first wife

Charlie met Mildred in early 1918 at a party at Sam Goldwyn's beach house. Although Charlie later insisted he had no interest in Mildred except for sex, he found himself courting her anyway and eventually she became pregnant. Charlie married her and was willing to make it work although he did not think Mildred was very bright. The pregnancy was a false alarm (if there was a pregnancy at all), but Mildred soon became pregnant again and gave birth in July 1919 to a baby boy who lived only 3 days. Soon after their marriage, Mildred signed a contract with Louis B. Mayer who began billing her as "Mrs. Charlie Chaplin" which, understandably, annoyed Charlie to no end.  

The marriage ended in November 1920. Mildred later claimed that if the baby hadn't died she would still be Mrs. Chaplin. Personally, I doubt it would have lasted. Charlie was already feeling trapped & he would not have been faithful. In fact, he already had an affair with Florence Deshon, whom he was in love with and wanted to marry, and later, before the divorce was final, he began a relationship with May Collins. 

In January 1927, Mildred wrote a series of articles for the Syracuse Journal in which she describes her life with Charlie. Her version of events is very different than Charlie's, including their first meeting.  I will post the article later today. 


  1. I recently did a search on Florence Deshon and came up with very little. I have read so many books on Chaplin, and know there was one that described the "trio" of Chaplin, Max Eastman and Florence. However, for the life of me, can't remember the book! Perhaps you know. Her story is very haunting, and her end is reminiscent of the heroine in "The House of Mirth". Love, love, love this blog!

  2. Thank you! I believe Kenneth Lynn's book ("Chaplin: His Life & Times") goes into detail about the Florence Deshon affair. This is a book I don't really care for otherwise (Lynn, like Joyce Milton, clearly has an agenda), but it is informative on this time of Charlie's life.

  3. I did read the Milton book, but not Lynn's. Was it in the Milton book as well? I let that one go, as I didn't like it (too much axe grinding!).

    1. Yes, I believe Florence is mentioned in the Milton book as well.