Birthday: November 29, 1901
Died At Age: 42
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Born in: Cheyenne, Wyoming
Famous as: Actress
Spouse/Ex-: Bill Fleckenstein, Charlie Chaplin (m. 1918–1920), Everett Terrence McGovern (m. 1924–1929)
father: Harry Harris
mother: Anna Parsons Foote
children: Everett Terrence McGovern Jr., Norman Spencer Chaplin
Died on: July 20, 1944
U.S. State: Wyoming
Cause of Death: Pneumonia
Who was Mildred Harris?
Mildred Harris was an American actress, who is remembered for playing the ingénue in a number of silent movies. She started working in films when she was just 11 years old. She starred in over 40 films as the leading lady and was particularly impressive as 'Dorothy' in the ‘Wizard of Oz’ series of movies. But more than her glamorous career, it was her brief and doomed marriage to superstar Charlie Chaplin that brought her worldwide fame. The marriage, which was always under intense public scrutiny, could not withstand multiple scandals surrounding it. Her career also suffered a similar fate. Mildred mostly acted in silent movies in the early 20th century, but the industry was transitioning toward talkies. Her inability to adjust to the new kind of cinema was blamed for the demise of her acting career. After her marriage with Chaplin ended, she married two more times. Mildred died of pneumonia-related complications at the age of 43 in California.
Mildred Harris, who was known for her blonde curls and blue eyes, first appeared in the movie 'The Post Telegrapher' when she was just 11 years old. By the time she was 13, she had become ‘Dorothy’ of the silent film 'The Patchwork Girl of Oz' and other movies of the 'Oz' film series, produced by 'Wizard of Oz' writer Frank Baum. She went on to star as the female protagonist in over 40 movies. Her petite and demure good looks got her several roles in movies like 'Forbidden', 'For Husbands Only', 'The Price of a Good Time', 'Borrowed Clothes', 'Home', and 'The Doctor and the Woman'. By the time she was 20, she was roped in to play leading roles opposite several popular stars of the time. Mildred worked with several famed contemporary filmmakers, such as Cecil DeMille and D Griffith.
She kept appearing in movies here and there throughout the early 20th century. In fact, her sensitive portrayal of Betty in the 1930 film adaptation of Broadway musical 'No, No Nanette' was praised by moviegoers and critics alike. But the era of motion pictures or "talkies" was dawning and Mildred found it difficult to acclimatise. One of her memorable roles in 1936 was a humorous imitation of an arrogant movie star in 'Movie Maniacs'. But her film career graph started showing a downward trend, and she started focussing more on vaudeville and burlesque. Mildred continued to work in Hollywood until the early 1940s, but most of her movie roles came courtesy Cecil B. DeMille, who used to cast her in small parts in his films. She played small roles in the movies 'Reap the Wild Wind' and 'The Story of Dr. Wassell'. Her last film was 'Having A Wonderful Crime', which released in 1945 after her death.
You May Like
Continue Reading Below
Family & Personal Life
Mildred Harris was born to Harry Harris and Anna Parsons Foote on November 29, 1901 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. She met comedy king Charlie Chaplin in 1918 when she was just 16 years old and started dating him. Shortly after that, Mildred announced that she was carrying his child. Though it turned out to be a false alarm, the rumour damaged her reputation, and she and Chaplin had to get married. They married each other in a private ceremony in Los Angeles on October 23, 1918. The couple became parents to a son called Norman Spencer on July 7, 1919. Unfortunately, the frail baby, who was nicknamed 'The Little Mouse', was born severely disabled and passed away just three days after his birth.
Meanwhile, the couple's relationship was deteriorating. Reportedly, Chaplin doubted Mildred's talent as she had not received any training in acting, and he also did not consider her to be his intellectual equal. Producer Louis B. Mayer decided to take advantage of the scandal surrounding Mildred and signed her in a series of films, advertising her as Chaplin's wife. An enraged Chaplin ended up having a public fistfight with Mayer. The couple separated soon after their child's death.
In 1920, Mildred filed for a divorce on grounds of mental cruelty, while Chaplin claimed that she had cheated on him. The court decided to grant them a divorce in November 1920. In 1924, Mildred got hitched to Everett Terrence McGovern and gave birth to their son in 1925. Four years later, she filed for a divorce, accusing McGovern of deserting her. Half a decade later, she got married to soccer player William Fleckenstein and remained married to him until her death. After a serious abdominal surgery, she contracted fatal pneumonia. She battled the illness for three weeks before passing away on July 20, 1944. A mausoleum in Los Angeles's Hollywood Forever cemetery is Mildred's last resting place.