Mildred Harris (November 29, 1901-July 20, 1944)

Mildred was Chaplin’s first wife and the mother of his first-born child, Norman Spencer (aka “The Little Mouse”) who died three days after his birth. Charlie and Mildred were married in 1918 and divorced two years later. A successful actress, she appeared in 135 films between 1912 & 1944, although many of her final appearances were uncredited. She died of pneumonia following surgery on July 20th, 1944 at the young age of 42. Charlie sent a spray of orchids, roses, and gladioli to the funeral.1 This is touching since Mildred wore orchids, her favorite flower, on her wedding day.2

In 1927, Mildred wrote the following about her former husband:

I came to know him as a strange brooding spirit, haunted by good, and, perhaps, sometimes bad impulses or temptations, inspirations and fears, all pulling in different ways and giving him no rest. (“Mildred Harris’ Own Story,” Syracuse Journal, Feb. 1927)

1Charles Chaplin, Jr, My Father, Charlie Chaplin (1960)/New York Times, July 25th, 1944
2Mildred Harris, “The Private Life Of Chaplin,” March 21, 1936

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