Filled Under: Charlie Chaplin

Edna Purviance


“Mr. Chaplin asked me if I would like to act in pictures with him. I laughed at the idea, but agreed to try it. I guess he took me because I had nothing to unlearn and he could teach me in his own way. I want to tell you that I suffered untold agonies. Eyes seemed to be everywhere. I was simply frightened to death. But he had unlimited patience in directing me and teaching me.” ~ Edna Purviance


Edna Purviance 1915 from Photoplay Magazine

Edna Purviance was an American actress during the silent movie era. She was the leading lady in many of Charlie Chaplin’s early films and in a span of eight years, she appeared in over thirty films with him. She was born October 21, 1895 in Paradise Valley, Nevada to Louis and Madison Gates Purviance. When she was three, the family moved to Lovelock, Nevada, where they assumed ownership of a hotel property. Her parents divorced in 1902, and her mother later married Robert Nurnberger, a German plumber. As a child Purviance was a talented pianist. She left her home in Lovelock in 1913 and attended business college in San Francisco. In 1915 Edna Purviance was working as a secretary in San Francisco, when Chaplin was working on his second film with Essanay Studios in Niles, California. Chaplin was looking for a leading lady for “A Night Out” (1915) when one of his associates noticed Purviance at a Tate’s Café in San Francisco and thought she should be cast in the role. Chaplin arranged a meeting with her and although he was concerned that she might be too serious for comedic roles, she won the job. Purviance went on to appear in 33 of Chaplin’s productions, including “The Tramp” (1915), “The Immigrant” (1917), “Easy Street” (1917), “The Idle Class” (1921) and the 1921 classic “The Kid”.  Her last film with him, “A Woman of Paris” (1923), was also her first lead role. Purviance went on to appear in two more films, “The Sea Gull”, which Chaplin never released, and “Education de Prince”, a French film released in 1927, just before she retired as an actress. Purviance has been credited as an extra in Chaplin’s final two American movies, “Monsieur Verdoux” (1947) and “Limelight” (1952).


Edna Purviance


Edna Perviance was romantically involved with Chaplin starting in 1915 but the relationship ended abruptly after he was forced into a shotgun wedding with teenager Mildred Harris in 1918. Nevertheless, Perviance continued to be his leading lady, with her sweet girlish on-screen demeanor being a great counterbalance to his rambunctious antics. It has been speculated by many that if they had married, Chaplin could have been spared much of the domestic troubles and scandals that later plagued him in his life. After Purviance retired in 1926, Chaplin continued to keep her on his payroll for decades, showing her much more concern and consideration than he did to any of his former wives.


Edna Purviance and Charlie Chaplin


Edna Purviance was married once, to John P. Squire in 1938. They remained married until his death in 1945.
Purviance died of throat cancer on January 11, 1958 at the age of 62 in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California and was interred at Grand View Memorial Park, Glendale, California, USA, in the West Mausoleum.


Charlie Chaplin and Edna Purviance in “The Immigrant” (1917)


Edna Purviance and Charlie Chaplin in “The Bond” (1918)


Edna Purviance and Charlie Chaplin in “Shoulder Arms” (1918)


Edna Purviance and Charlie Chaplin in “Police” (1916)

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Charlie Chaplin – A Pictorial


“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” ~ Charlie Chaplin


Charlie Chaplin


“I thought I would dress in baggy pants, big shoes, a cane and a derby hat. everything a contradiction: the pants baggy, the coat tight, the hat small and the shoes large.” ~ Charlie Chaplin


Charlie Chaplin


“I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician.” ~ Charlie Chaplin


Charlie Chaplin as The Tramp 1915


“All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl.” ~ Charlie Chaplin


Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in “The Kid” (1921)


“Movies are a fad. Audiences really want to see live actors on a stage.” ~ Charlie Chaplin


Gloria Swanson, Charles Chaplin and Marion Davies at the premiere of “City Lights” in Los Angeles – January 30, 1931


“The glamour of it all! New York! America!” ~ Charlie Chaplin


Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.


“I have no further use for America. I wouldn’t go back there if Jesus Christ was President.” ~ Charlie Chaplin


Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard at a dinner honoring Walt Disney Sep. 28, 1933, Hollywood (Image by Bettmann/Corbis)


“I am at peace with God. My conflict is with Man.” ~ Charlie Chaplin


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