Charlie Chaplin & Paulette Goddard: A Secret Love Affair Exhibition Opens at the Catalina Island Museum on April 16th (Charlie’s birthday)

From Gail Fornasiere, Director of Marketing & Public Relations at the Catalina Island Museum:

AVALON – April 1, 2014
He was already the most famous film star the world had ever known.  She was more than twenty years younger, recently divorced and sporting bleached blond hair.  They met on the yacht of a film producer, who thought a weekend getaway to Catalina Island might kindle some romance.  And how right he was.  When Paulette Goddard shyly asked Charlie Chaplin to help her invest her substantial divorce settlement in the movies, he was instantly smitten.  He had always preferred far younger women.  He would eventually marry three teenage girls and had countless affairs with others.  But Paulette was different.  She was not only clever but vivaciously witty, and Charlie always found this compelling.  She was intent on becoming an actress, and before long he asked her to dump the platinum locks, move into his Hollywood estate and entrust her career to him.  She had only one complaint: as a blonde she didn’t have to think around men; now, that would all change.  Charlie was snagged—hook, line and sinker.  Of course, this was 1932—a time not known for its liberal attitudes toward divorce and men dating younger women.  A couple living together—especially a couple with an age difference–was hardly acceptable.  Tongues started to wag—even in Hollywood.  But Charlie was by far the biggest star of the day.  For a while he could afford to ignore the gossip.  He purchased a 38-foot motor cruiser and presented it to his young paramour over breakfast.  They could sail whenever they wanted, swimming and fishing the majestic waters off Santa Catalina.  They could revel in their love, without the prying eyes of a pushy public always wanting to peer in.  At least, this was the dream, and it lasted for seven years.
Opening Wine Reception
The Catalina Island Museum invites you to the opening reception for Chaplin and Goddard: A Secret Love Affair on Wednesday, April 16 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Tickets are free for members of the museum and $5.00 for the general public. 
You can also see Charlie Chaplin starring in his silent masterpiece, City Lights during the 27th annual Catalina Island Museum Silent Film Benefit on Saturday, May 17 in the Avalon Casino Theatre. City Lights will be accompanied by a 39-piece symphony orchestra led by Grammy Award-winning conductor Richard Kaufman. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the events page at
The Catalina Island Museum is Avalon’s sole institution devoted to art, culture and history.  The museum, its digital theater and store are located on the ground floor of Avalon’s historic Casino and are open 7 days a week, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information, the museum may be reached by phone at 310-510-2414 or at its website:

Charlie and Paulette posing on their bicycle built for two on Avalon’s Crescent Avenue.
Photo courtesy of the Catalina Island Museum.


  1. There's a couple of weird things here for me: First, what an odd description the museum is using in this announcement – how in any scope of imagination was this a "secret" love affair? Is this a photo exhibition or just the City Lights film? And secondly, why would you pair up an exhibition about the two of them, and then not show "Modern Times", the fruit of all that time they spent there in the early 30's?

  2. I'd love to go this but its hard to go to wine reception when you literally just turned 20 (my birthday is the day before Charlie's). Oh, and also when you live in Kentucky…….

  3. A month ago there was an old documentary on Catalina and movie stars. This story was in it too. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks for this beautifully clear pic.

  4. Paulette's birthday goes anywhere as from 1905 to 1915. I tried to find a picture of her as the supposedly 13 year old girl sitting on the moon stage prop. She was working in NY for Too Ziegfeld. I suppose it would make the difference between whether she was 18 or bout 23 when introduced to CC.

  5. From the Gilbert book, the author makes a point somewhere in there about Paulette possibly faking a passport at one point in order to work earlier, hence the 1905 date so she would appear "legal" when she was modeling at age 11 or so for Hattie Carnegie and Saks and then in the Follies by 13 or 14. I think 1910 is the accepted birthdate and she just turned 22 when she met Chaplin. This makes sense, as she was 16 when she married Edgar in 1926. JUST 16, since they married in early June and she was born June 3. There is a photo of her on the moon on the cover of a Goddard biography called "The Smiling Girl on the Cardboard Moon". If I still had the book I would scan the cover for you. The book was not worth keeping. It read like they pulled everything from other books and magazine articles. Not very much actual bio in it.

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