On the afternoon of his arrival in Nice, Charlie saw a performance by an Austrian dancer named May Reeves at a casino owned by his host, Frank J. Gould. He was immediately captivated, not only by her beauty, but also by her talent. His brother, Sydney, who lived in Nice and was already acquainted with her, offered to introduce them. Since she was fluent in several languages, she was initially hired to help Carlyle Robinson with Charlie's correspondence, but this job lasted less than a day for she soon became Charlie's constant companion. "She was footloose like myself and we accepted each other at face value," Charlie later remembered in My Autobiography.* "We dined and tangoed and did all the usual froufrou. But propinquity caught me in the meshes of her charm and the inevitable happened: my emotions became involved; and thinking about returning to America, I was not too sure about leaving her behind."
Their relationship lasted until early 1932. Three years later, May published a memoir about her time with Charlie called Charlie Chaplin intime. I find it to be one of the more reliable and informative portraits written about him, mainly because it was written so soon after their time together. It was originally published in French and was not available in English until 2001.** There is no trace of May after her book was published in 1935. Her co-author, novelist Claire Goll, fled Europe to escape the Nazis in 1939. Unfortunately, we do not know what became of May.
Below are three photos of May from Voila magazine (1934) plus a photo with photographer Willy Michel who was famous for posing with his subjects in a photo booth he set up in his studio.
*Charlie makes no mention of May in "A Comedian Sees The World." However thirty years later in My Autobiography he briefly refers to their relationship but doesn't mention her by name.
**Charlie Chaplin Intime (aka The Intimate Charlie Chaplin) was translated in 2001 by Chaplin scholar Constance Brown Kuriyama. The book was serialized in seven issues of of the French magazine, Voila in 1934. All photos on this page (except the Willy Michel photo) were scanned from my own copies of the magazines.
World Tour Revisited: I follow Chaplin on his 1931-32 world tour.