The following is an excerpt from Hedda Hopper’s autobiography From Under My Hat published in 1952. It is common knowledge that Hopper disliked Chaplin for political and moral reasons and said some rotten things about him, but I believe there is some truth to the following anecdote. This was not the first time Chaplin met some obscure, lower class (or working class) girl and took her to dinner.1 He was also apt to become bored with a woman once the initial infatuation wore off. The following most likely took place sometime in the mid-1920s:
On one of Laurette’s 2 first trips West, she, Hartley,3 and I went to a party given by Norma Talmadge and Joe Schenck at their home on West Adams Street. Hartley wanted to leave before Laurette was ready. She was talking to Charlie Chaplin, who said, “I’ll drive you home.”
I went along, and the three of us sat in the back seat of Chaplin’s Rolls-Royce. He and Laurette started talking about sex attraction: what a powerful thing it was, how hard to foresee or stem. Laurette remarked that a young waiter who carried in her breakfast tray was, though of course he didn’t suspect it, attractive to her.
Chaplin chimed in, “Not long ago I walked down Hollywood Boulevard one evening. My car was following me as usual. A few steps ahead of me I saw a forlorn little girl, frail, poorly dressed. She looked so tired, I walked on ahead of her, looked back. Something in her face appealed to me. I turned round, walked back, and said, ‘You’re hungry, aren’t you?’
‘I haven’t eaten for two days,’ she said simply, like a child. I said, ‘Would you allow me to buy your dinner?’ She was so grateful she nearly fainted in my arms.
“I signaled my chauffeur, handed her into the car, drove her to my home, and fed her.” Chaplin gave a bored sigh and a shrug. “She stayed with me for three days.
“She was delightful,” Chaplin continued, speaking softly, rolling a remembered sweet on his tongue like the taste of good wine. “I experienced a new kind of thrill. I’d never met anyone quite like her. So giving, so grateful.
“Then I had the chauffeur drive her back to Hollywood Boulevard and let her out where I picked her up.” Chaplin turned then to Laurette. “And would you believe it, the following night she found her way back to my home and begged to be let in? Of course I had the servants turn her out.” He gave another sad sigh. “When will girls like that learn to know when I’m through?” he said peevishly.
1Jim Tully describes two such women in “The Real Life Story of Charlie Chaplin”: A girl who worked at a soda fountain and another known only as “Hotsy-Totsy”.
2Laurette Taylor (1884–1946) was an American stage and film actress.
3J. Hartley Manners (1970-1928) was a playwright & husband of Laurette Taylor.