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Mildred Harris

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mildred Harris
Harris, c. 1919
Born(1901-04-18)April 18, 1901
DiedJuly 20, 1944(1944-07-20) (aged 43)
Years active1912–1944
(m. 1918; div. 1920)

Everett Terrence McGovern
(m. 1924; div. 1929)

(m. 1934)

Mildred Harris (April 18, 1901 – July 20, 1944) was an American stage, film, and vaudeville actress[1] during the early part of the 20th century.[2] Harris began her career in the film industry as a child actress when she was 10 years old. She was also the first wife of Charlie Chaplin.

Early life

Harris was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming,[1] on April 18, 1901.[3][4] Her parents were telegraph operator Harry Harris and Anna Parsons Foote. Harris made her first screen appearance at the age of 10 in the 1912 Francis Ford and Thomas H. Ince-directed Western short The Post Telegrapher. She followed the film with various juvenile roles, often appearing opposite child actor Paul Willis. In 1914, she was hired by The Oz Film Manufacturing Company to portray Fluff in The Magic Cloak of Oz and Button-Bright in His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz. In 1916, at the age of 15, she appeared as a harem girl in Griffith's film Intolerance.


Harris in Fool's Paradise (1921) with John Davidson (left) and Conrad Nagel (right)
Harris in Fool's Paradise (1921) with John Davidson (left) and Conrad Nagel (right)

In the 1920s, Harris transitioned from child actress to leading lady roles opposite leading men such as Conrad Nagel, Charley Chase, Milton Sills, Lionel Barrymore, Rod La Rocque and the Moore brothers, Owen and Tom. She appeared in Frank Capra's 1928 silent drama The Power of the Press with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Jobyna Ralston and the same year, starred in Universal Pictures first sound film Melody of Love opposite Walter Pidgeon.[5]

She found the transition to the "talkies" difficult and her career slowed dramatically. She performed in vaudeville and burlesque, and at one point, toured with comedian Phil Silvers. She was critically praised for her performance in the 1930 film adaptation of the Broadway musical No, No Nanette. In the 1936 Three Stooges comedy Movie Maniacs, she portrayed a temperamental and demanding film starlet, who while receiving a pedicure, is startled by stooge Curly Howard striking a match on the sole of her foot.

Harris continued to work in film in the early 1940s, largely through the kindness of her former director, Cecil B. DeMille, who cast her in bit parts in 1942's Reap the Wild Wind (starring Paulette Goddard, who like Harris, was once married to Charlie Chaplin), and 1944's The Story of Dr. Wassell. Her last film appearance was in the posthumously released 1945 film Having A Wonderful Crime.

Personal life

Mildred Harris, c. 1920
Mildred Harris, c. 1920

The 16-year-old Harris met actor Charlie Chaplin in mid-1918, dated, and came to believe she was pregnant by him, but the pregnancy was found to be a false alarm. They married privately on October 23, 1918, in Los Angeles. She subsequently did become pregnant.[6] The couple quarreled about her contract with Louis B. Mayer and her career. Chaplin felt she was not his intellectual equal. Their child, Norman Spencer, died in July 1919, at only three days of age,[7][8] and the couple separated in the autumn of 1919.

Chaplin moved to the Los Angeles Athletic Club. Harris tried to keep up appearances, believing a happy marriage was possible, but in 1920, she filed for divorce based on mental cruelty. Chaplin accused her of infidelity, and though he would not name her lover publicly, actress Alla Nazimova was suspected.[9] The divorce was granted in November 1920, with Harris receiving $100,000 [a] in settlement and some community property.[10]

In 1924, Harris married Everett Terrence McGovern. The union lasted until November 26, 1929, when Harris filed for divorce in Los Angeles, on grounds of desertion. The couple had one son, Everett Terrence McGovern, Jr., in 1925. In 1934, she married former football player William P. Fleckenstein in Asheville, North Carolina.[11] Fleckenstein owned a musical show in which he and Harris were performing at the time of their marriage.[1]


Harris and Fleckenstein remained married until Harris's death on July 20, 1944, of pneumonia following a major abdominal operation. She had been ill for three weeks.[2] She is interred in the Abbey of the Psalms Mausoleum at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.[3]


In 1960, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was post-humorously dedicated to Mildred Harris. It is located at 6307 Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, California.[12] Harris was played by actress Milla Jovovich in the 1992 biographical comedy-drama film Chaplin.[13]


Year Film Role Notes
1912 The Post Telegrapher
The Triumph of Right Their Little Daughter
His Nemesis
The Frontier Child A Frontier Child
His Squaw
His Sense of Duty
1913 A Shadow of the Past
The Wheels of Destiny
The Miser
The Drummer of the 8th
A Child of War
A True Believer
The Seal of Silence
Granddad Mildred
Borrowed Gold
1914 Romance of Sunshine Alley
O Mimi San
The Courtship of O San
Wolves of the Underworld
The Colonel's Orderly
The Social Ghost Ethel
Shadows of the Past
A Frontier Mother
The Sheriff of Bisbee
Shorty and the Fortune Teller
When America Was Young
Mildred's Doll Mildred
The Magic Cloak of Oz Princess Margaret 'Fluff' of Noland
His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz Button-Bright, who is lost and doesn't care
Jimmy Mary
1915 The Lone Cowboy
The Warrens of Virginia Betty Warren
Enoch Arden A Child (uncredited)
The Little Matchmaker Mildred
The Little Soldier Man Mildred
The Absentee Innocence
A Rightful Theft
The Old Batch First Adopted Daughter
The Choir Boys
The Little Lumberjack
The Indian Trapper's Vindication Dorothy King - their Daughter
1916 Hoodoo Ann Goldie survives; Library of Congress
Intolerance Favorite of the Harem (uncredited), survives; many
The Old Folks at Home Marjorie survives
The Matrimaniac (uncredited), survives; Library of Congress, others
The Americano Stenographer survives; Library of Congress, others
1917 The Bad Boy Mary lost
A Love Sublime Eurydice lost
An Old Fashioned Young Man lost
Time Locks and Diamonds Lolita Mendoza lost
Golden Rule Kate Olive - Kate's sister survives; Library of Congress, Academy Film Archive
The Cold Deck Alice Leigh print survives; Library of Congress, La Cinemathèque française
The Price of a Good Time Linnie lost
1918 The Doctor and the Woman Sidney Page lost
Cupid by Proxy Jane Stewart print survives; Archives du Film CNC Bois d'Arcy, France[14]
For Husbands Only Toni Wilde lost
Borrowed Clothes Mary Kirk lost
1919 When a Girl Loves Bess lost
Home Millicent Rankin lost
Forbidden 'Maddie' Irvin lost
1920 Old Dad Daphne Bretton lost
The Inferior Sex Allisa Randall lost (as Mildred Harris Chaplin)
Polly of the Storm Country Polly lost (as Mildred Harris Chaplin)
The Woman in His House Hilda lost (as Mildred Harris Chaplin)
1921 Habit Irene Fletcher lost
A Prince There Was Katherine Woods lost
Fool's Paradise Rosa Duchene survives; Library of Congress
1922 The First Woman The Girl lost
1923 The Fog Madelaine Theddon lost
The Daring Years Susie LaMotte lost
1924 The Shadow of the East Gillian Locke lost
By Divine Right The Girl lost
Traffic in Hearts Alice Hamilton lost
One Law for the Woman Polly Barnes print survives; private holding (abridgement)
In Fast Company Barbara Belden print survives; Filmmuseum Amsterdam (EYE Institut)
Unmarried Wives Princess Sonya print survives; Filmoteca Espanola (Madrid)
Stepping Lively Evelyn Pendroy, the girl lost
The Desert Hawk Marie Nicholls lost
1925 Easy Money Blanche Amory survives; Library of Congress
Flaming Love Chita lost
Beyond the Border Molly Smith survives
The Dressmaker from Paris Joan McGregor lost (per Lost Film Files)
Super Speed Claire Knight survives; Library of Congress
Private Affairs Amy Lufkin lost
My Neighbor's Wife Inventor's Wife lost
A Man of Iron Claire Bowdoin lost
The Fighting Cub lost
The Unknown Lover Gale Norman lost
Soiled Pet Darling lost
1926 Mama Behave Lolita Chase, Charlie's Wife Short, survives
The Isle of Retribution Lenore Hardenworth lost
The Self Starter Ruth Atkin lost
Dangerous Traffic Helen Leonard survives
The Wolf Hunters Helen Ainsworth lost
The Mystery Club Mrs. Kate Vandeerveer lost (per Lost Film Files: Universal Pictures)
Cruise of the Jasper B Agatha Fairhaven survives; Library of Congress
1927 The Show Girl Maizie Udell survives; Library of Congress, UCLA Film and Television
One Hour of Love Gwen lost (per Lost Film Files: Tiffany)
Husband Hunters Cynthia Kane survives; BFI London
Wandering Girls Maxine lost (per Lost Film Files: Columbia Pictures)
Wolves of the Air Marceline Manning lost
Burning Gold Claire Owens lost
She's My Baby Claire Daltour lost
Rose of the Bowery lost
The Swell-Head Kitty lost (per Lost Film Files: Columbia Pictures)
The Girl from Rio Helen Graham survives; Library of Congress
Out of the Past Dora Prentiss lost
The Adventurous Soul Miriam Martin survives; Library of Congress
1928 The Last Lap lost
Hearts of Men Alice Weston lost
The Heart of a Follies Girl Florine lost
Lingerie Mary print survives; BFI London
The Speed Classic Sheila Van Hauten lost
Melody of Love Madelon lost
The Power of the Press Marie Weston survives
1929 Side Street Bunny survives
Sea Fury The Girl
1930 No, No, Nanette Betty
The Melody Man Martha
Ranch House Blues
1935 Lady Tubbs Society Woman (uncredited)
The quiero con locura
Never Too Late Mary Lloyd Hartley
1936 Movie Maniacs Leading Lady
Great Guy Bit Role (uncredited)
1942 Reap the Wild Wind Dancing Lady (uncredited)
Holiday Inn Woman (uncredited)
1943 Sweet Rosie O'Grady Minor role uncredited
1944 The Story of Dr. Wassell Dutch nurse (uncredited)
Fun Time Tillie (uncredited)
Hail the Conquering Hero Wife of Marine Colonel (uncredited)
1945 Having Wonderful Crime Guest (uncredited)


  1. ^ equivalent to $1,352,658 in 2021


  1. ^ a b c "Mildred Harris, in Silent Movies". The New York Times. Associated Press. July 21, 1944. p. 19. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Mildred Harris Dies In West". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. July 21, 1944. Retrieved November 29, 2021. ... actress in the silent film days, and first wife of Comedian Charles Spencer Chaplin, died yesterday of pneumonia which followed a major abdominal operation....
  3. ^ a b "Mildred Harris, 1901–1944". Hollywood Forever. Retrieved November 23, 2021.
  4. ^ Silent Film Necrology. 2001. p. 221. Retrieved November 23, 2021.
  5. ^ "Mildred Harris, First Wife of Chaplin, Succumbs". Los Angeles Examiner. July 21, 1944. p. 3.
  6. ^ Robinson, David (1986) [1985]. Chaplin: His Life and Art. London: Paladin. ISBN 0-586-08544-0.
  7. ^ The child was buried in the Inglewood Park Cemetery under a headstone with the inscription "The Little Mouse". Beneath Los Angeles – Norman Spencer Chaplin
  8. ^ Charlie Chaplin's Wives at
  9. ^ McLellan, Diana. 2000. The Girls: Sappho Goes to Hollywood London: Robson Books. 1-86105-381-9. p. 28.
  10. ^ Charles J. Maland, 1991, Chaplin and American Culture: The Evolution of a Star Image, Princeton University Press, pp. 43-44.
  11. ^ Mason City Globe Gazette, March 19, 1934, p. 18, Mason City Globe Gazette online on
  12. ^ "Mildred Harris". Hollywood Walk of Fame. October 25, 2019. Retrieved June 20, 2022.
  13. ^ "Chaplin (1992)". Milla Jovovich - Official Website. Retrieved June 20, 2022.
  14. ^ The Library of Congress American Silent Feature Film Survival Catalog:Cupid by Proxy

External links

This page was last edited on 20 June 2022, at 15:00
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