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Published on Aug 12, 2014
Lita Grey Chaplin in Seasoned Greetings with a young Sammy Davis Jr. 1933 The owner of an unsuccessful greeting-card store attempts to sell 'talking' greeting cards in the form of records. Lita Grey (April 15, 1908 – December 29, 1995) was an American actress and the second wife of Charlie Chaplin. She was born in Hollywood, California, in 1908, to a Mexican-born mother and a father of Irish heritage and christened Lillita Louise MacMurray. Grey married four times. In 1924, when she was 16 years old, she suspected she had become pregnant by Charlie Chaplin, who was then 35. Chaplin, who could have been imprisoned for having sexual relations with a minor, married her that November in secret in Empalme, Sonora, Mexico to avoid a scandal. They had two sons, Charles Chaplin, Jr. (1925–1968) and Sydney Earl Chaplin (1926–2009). The marriage was troubled from the start. The two had few interests in common, and Chaplin spent as much time as he could away from home, working on The Gold Rush (in which Grey was to have played the female lead) and later The Circus. They divorced on August 22, 1927, due to his alleged numerous affairs with other women, and he was ordered to pay over US$600,000 and US$100,000 in trust for each child. It was the largest divorce settlement at the time. The divorce was one of the sensational media events of the time. Copies of her lengthy divorce complaint which made then-scandalous sexual claims against Chaplin were published and publicly sold. She wrote two autobiographical volumes covering her life with Chaplin. My Life With Chaplin (1966) was by her own admission largely a work of exaggeration and fabrication. She claimed to tell the story as it really was in her second memoir Wife of the Life of the Party (1995). Grey was portrayed by Deborah Moore in the 1992 film Chaplin. The Chaplin biographer Joyce Milton asserted in Tramp: The Life of Charlie Chaplin that the Grey-Chaplin marriage was an inspiration for Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. She died in Los Angeles, at age 87 of cancer, and was buried in Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery in North Hollywood, California.