Edna Purviance Welcome to Paradise

Charlie Chaplin's Leading Ladies

Charlie Chaplin had many different leading ladies during his film career.
This is a complete list of all his leading ladies between 1914 - 1967.
Linda Wada - ednapurviance.org
Keystone - 1914
Mabel Normand

Mabel Normand was Chaplin's first leading lady. She was already a well-known silent film star by the time Chaplin started at Keystone.

Mabel was born to a music hall family on November 9, 1892. Her film work with Mack Sennett at Keystone is what she is most remembered for.

It was at Keystone where Mabel directed Charlie in a few of his first films. But Chaplin was not one to have anyone direct him, and soon would be directing himself.

Charlie and Mabel did 12 films together at Keystone in 1914, including the popular 'Tillie's Punctured Romance'.

Mabel Normand

Mabel Normand and Chaplin in 'Dough and Dynamite'

Keystone - 1914
Marie Dressler

Marie Dressler starred with Chaplin in Mack Sennett’s ‘Tillie's Punctured Romance’ along with Mabel Normand.

This was the very first full length feature comedy ever made and the only film Chaplin played with Marie.

Marie was a popular stage star and was touring in stage plays in the many different cities as Chaplin did with Karno. Dressler visited Chaplin many years later at the Chaplin Film Studios and both worked on the War Bond tours.

Dressler won the Best Actress Oscar in 1931 for 'Min and Bill', and will always be remembered for her role in 'Dinner at Eight'.

Marie Dresseler

Chaplin, Marie Dressler and Mabel Normand in 'Tillie...' Here is a 1910 recording of Dressler.

Essanay - 1915
Mutual - 1916 and 1917
First National -
1918 to 1923
United Artists -

Edna Purviance

Edna Purviance was Chaplin's leading lady for 34 films with Essanay, Mutual, First National Films and Chaplin's United Artists film
‘A Woman of Paris’.

'Paris' was her first starring role, but her last film working with Chaplin.

Edna was at the top of her career when she and Mabel Normand were present at the Dine's shooting on New Year's Day 1924. The shooting was done by Mabel's chauffeur, but it marked that started the end for both of their careers.

Edna made two more films, 'AWoman of the Sea' (also known as The Sea Gull) in L.A. and 'Education de Prince' in France during the mid-1920's.

She lived a very active, but quieter life at her Los Angeles home, with her many friends and family around. She was married for a few years, but her husband died suddenly in San Francisco.

She was asked to do a TV interview in the 1950's, but didn't, remarking she belonged to the silent era.

Edna Purviance

Edna Purviance and Charlie Chaplin in 'Work'

United Artists - 1925
The Gold Rush
Georgia Hale

After Edna, Chaplin had several leading ladies over the next 29 years. The first leading lady after Edna was Georgia Hale, who played the dance hall girl in ‘The Gold Rush’.

Georgia Hale was not the first choice for the dance hall girl. Lita Grey, who played the vamp in the dream sequence of 'The Kid', originally had the role, but became Chaplin's wife instead.

This was not Miss Hale's first film, but one of
several she did in the 1920's.

Miss Hale wrote the book 'Charlie Chaplin: Intimate Close-up' in 1995. She played in 22 films during her career.

George Hale

Georgia Hale and Chaplin in 'The Gold Rush'

United Artists - 1928
The Circus
Merna Kennedy

Merna Kennedy was the equestrienne in ‘The Circus’.

Miss Kennedy's career started as a dancer in musical comedies. She was a friend of Lita Grey who suggested Merna for 'The Circus'.

Lita and Merna were childhood friends. It was Lita who first introduced Chaplin to Merna in 1924. It was that meeting that lead to Lita Grey being signed as Chaplin's first leading lady after Edna Purviance for 'The Gold Rush'. But it is Merna who would become Chaplin's leading lady instead a couple of years later.

'The Circus' insured Merna's place in film history. She would make a few mores films before retiring in the mid-1930's. She married Busby Berkeley after leaving her film career.

Merna Kennedy

Merna Kennedy and Chaplin in 'The Circus'

United Artists - 1931
City Lights
Virginia Cherrill

Virginia Cherrill did a stunning job portraying
the blind girl in ‘City Lights’.

This was Miss Cherrill's first film. She will always be remembered for her role, but the relationship between Cherrill and Chaplin off screen was cool at best. Cherrill nearly lost the role and was fired for a short period, but won the role back after a 'talk' and 'rethink' from Chaplin.

It was a difficult film for Chaplin to make with everyone else doing 'talkies' in the early 1930's. It turned out to be is one of his best!

Cherrill's performance as the blind girl did capture the heart of Cary Grant, and they were married. Cherrill can be seen in an interview talking about her role in the 1983 'Unknown Chaplin' Series Part II.

Virginia Cherrill

'City Lights' with Virginia Cherrill

United Artists - 1936
Modern Times
Paulette Goddard

Only Mabel and Edna did more leading lady roles with Chaplin. Paulette Goddard did two films with Chaplin in 1936 and 1940.

Charlie met Paulette at a party after returning from his World Tour in 1932. He saw in Paulette the perfect girl for his next picture. They became very close and worked hard on Chaplin's last silent film 'Modern Times'. This was Paulette's first leading role in a film.

Paulette Goddard received praise for her role as the gamine in ‘Modern Times’.

She would continue her own rather successful film career in the late 1930's and 1940's. more>

Paulette Goddard

Paulette Goddard with Chaplin in 'Modern Times'

United Artists - 1940
The Great Dictator
Paulette Goddard

Paulette Goddard's second and last film with Chaplin was the role of Hannah in ‘The Great Dictator’.

Paulette was Chaplin’s wife in real life during most of the 1930’s until June 1942. But there is still some question about that marriage.

Miss Goddard played in several films during her career including 'Women' and 'Unconquered'. She nearly won the role for the lead in 'Gone With the Wind', but the question over her marriage to Chaplin haunted that chance for the role.

In later years, they both lived in Switzerland and remained friends.

Paulette Goddard

Paulette Goddard in 'The Great Dictator'

United Artists - 1947
Monsieur Verdoux
Marilyn Nash*

Marilyn Nash play ‘the girl’ in ‘Monsieur Verdoux’. Nash met Chaplin while at a tennis party at his Hollywood home.

Chaplin soon had a screen test and signed her for his leading lady in 'Monsieur Verdoux'.

Miss Nash has been listed as a leading lady but Martha Raye was really the shining leading lady as 'Annabella Bonheur' in 'Monsieur Verdoux'. (*pictured below)

Marilyn Nash

Marilyn Nash with Chaplin in 'Monsieur Verdoux'
*October 2011 - Marilyn Nash has died (1926-2011)

United Artists - 1952
Clarie Bloom

Clarie Bloom clearly was the leading lady and charming dancer in ‘Limelight’. This was Miss Bloom's first film role. She acted on stage in England before being cast for 'Limelight'.

She continued to work in films and stage productions. She wrote the book 'Limelight and After' in 1982.

Claire Bloom

Clarie Bloom with Chaplin in 'Limelight'

The British Productions - 1957
King of New York
Dawn Addams

Dawn Addams had the leading role as ‘Ann Kay’ in Chaplin’s first film made in London a ‘King of New York’.

Miss Addams was an English actress who played an American TV specialist.

Dawn Addams

Chaplin with Dawn Addams in 'King of New York'

Other leading roles:

The British Productions - 1967 (not pictured)
A Countess From Hong Kong - Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren played the leading role as ‘Countess Natascha Alexandroff’ in the Chaplin directed film ‘A Countess From Hong Kong’.

It was Chaplin’s only color film. Chaplin made a brief cameo appearance.

Pictured to the right, *Martha Raye as 'Annabella Bonheur' in 'Monsieur Verdoux'.

Martha Raye

Chaplin and *Martha Raye in 'Monsieur Verdoux' 1947

Monsieur Verdoux
Marilyn Nash (1926-2011)

Marilyn Nash play ‘the girl’ in ‘Monsieur Verdoux’. Marilyn died October 6, 2011.

Marilyn only played in two films, the second being 'Unknown World' in 1951.

In 2000, Marilyn released a book called 'Charles Chaplin Secrets: Hollywood Heydays' which includes her thoughts working with Chaplin. (see book here)

One very interesting thing about Marilyn, is that she lived in Oroville, California, just about 12-miles where Edna's father last lived in Biggs, California.

Check Out this Fine Postcard Collection of Chaplin's Leading Ladies!
Garen Ewing's Leading Ladies Postcard Collection

See the Updated Chaplin's Wives and Chaplin's Family section!

And learn more about Charlie Chaplin

and his leading ladies from the following books
and videos:

'My Autobiography' - Charlie Chaplin
'Charlie Chaplin: Intimate close-up' - by Georgia Hale
'Limelight and After: An Education of an Actress - by Claire Bloom
'Chaplin: His Life and Art' - by David Robinson
'The Chaplin Encyclopedia' - Glenn Mitchell
'Mabel' - Betty Fussell

Film Documentary:

'Unknown Chaplin Series' part I and II - by David Gill and Kevin Brownlow

Part I - My Happiest Years
Behind the scenes out-takes with Edna Purviance

Part II - The Great Director

Includes behind the scenes of the 'The Gold Rush' with Georgia Hale and Lita Grey.
And the making of 'City Lights' with Virginia Cherrill

If you live in the UK and want to know the best available films
to see Edna Purviance and all of Chaplin's leading ladies check out:

Chaplin UK DVD Guide!!

Garen Ewing Charlie Chaplin UK DVD and Video Guide

Learn more about Charlie Chaplin's Lost Film Production and Edna's starring role in
The Sea Gull, A Woman of the Sea. Book only available at ednapurviance.com.


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