Saturday, June 7, 2014

"The Private Life Of Chaplin" by Mildred Harris


Charlie's first wife, Mildred Harris, wrote this series of articles, "The Private Life Of Chaplin" which were published in the Winnipeg Tribune in 1936. They are longer and somewhat more in-depth than the series she wrote in 1927, "Mildred Harris' Own Story," that I posted here about two years ago. In this 1936 series, she offers some interesting tidbits about their life together (i.e. he called her "Millie") and the birth and death of their infant son, some of which were new to me, as well as her own insight into Chaplin the man. See for yourself. I have uploaded a pdf of the articles to my Google Drive site (let me know if you have any problems with the link):

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_WD97DQGM4IRUZzWnlyZkJMZFE/edit?usp=sharing

("The Private Life Of Chaplin" by Mildred Harris, printed in 6 installments in the Winnipeg Tribune, March 14-April 18, 1936)

11 comments:

  1. I THOROUGHLY enjoyed this! Thankyou so much Jess.

    I will be smiling all day tomorrow knowing I got a peek at some inside skinny on CC.

    Does the cartoon of Louis B.Mayer boxing with CC still exist anywhere?

    Mildred gives some nice insights into his temperament on the set and his jealousies.

    I went scouting for pretty pics of Mildred. There were some cute ones. Not many of she and CC though. But I found this site had a couple of her and then some real beautiful black and whites of Charlie's loves.

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  2. This was really interesting! Do you think she had a ghost writer? Some of the words and sentences seemed to be written by a professional writer ( not implying she wasn't smart...). Also by 1936 didn't people know why the marriage was rushed and not so much because CC couldn't wait to be married to her?. Funny how she calls him Charles! Thanks

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    1. Yes, this article, as well as the one from 1927, were probably ghostwritten or "as told to" accounts.

      I don't know if the reasons for the rushed marriage were common knowledge in those days. Rollie Totheroh said years later that Mildred wasn't pregnant and that wasn't the reason for their marriage. I don't know how much Rollie really knew though. It's always seemed to me that Mildred told Charlie she was pregnant even though she wasn't. Charlie didn't seem as opposed to the idea of marriage as he did later with Lita. I doubt everything Mildred says here about Charlie's feelings for her are made up. The only other version of their relationship we have is Charlie's in his autobiography and Mildred was already dead by the time he wrote it. I've never felt that Mildred was as empty-headed and shallow as Charlie made her out to be.

      Mildred wasn't the only woman to call him Charles. Paulette occasionally referred to him this way, as did Joan Barry. It seems I read somewhere once that that's what he preferred to be called.

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    2. Where did Rollie say that Mildred wasn't pregnant? Was that in the long Timothy Lyons interview, or elsewhere? The weird thing about all the pregnancy stuff is that she did give birth to Norman a little less than nine months after the wedding. I don't know if he was premature, but in the news coverage around his birth there was no indication that he'd arrived excessively early. To add to the confusion, Mildred went into the hospital with a nervous breakdown in mid-November 1918, right after the wedding, and was recovering in bed until Christmas. Did she have the breakdown because Charlie was upset over a false pregnancy? And when in the midst of all this did she get pregnant with Norman?

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    3. Rollie's comments are from an interview with his brother, Dan, that didn't make it into the Timothy Lyons piece. The part about Mildred was posted by Rollie's grandson, David, on the old alt.movies.chaplin forum (a great resource):
      alt.movies.chaplin

      I wonder if Mildred was given drugs to treat her nervous breakdown that may have caused Norman's deformity. I assume she would have been pregnant by that time (and possibly didn't know it) if she wasn't pregnant when they got married.

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    4. You know, I think Joyce Milton mentioned something about drugs possibly having an impact on the baby's development. I know you're not a big fan of that bio, but I may go back and have a look at it and see. One problem with that bio is that she doesn't always cite her sources.

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    5. Milton did speculate that Mildred may have been given drugs, but didn't cite any evidence.

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    6. Yes, it was just speculation on her part, but unlike a lot of her opinions, this one actually makes some sense.

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  3. Maybe I read it wrong, but in the article it says Mildred watched a preview of The Kid before they were even married! What's up with that?

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    1. No, you read it correctly. It's Mildred who's mixed up.

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  4. If she actually saw a new Chaplin release in this period, it would have been "A Dog's Life".

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