Mildred Harris ~ Charlie Chaplin's Child Bride

Mildred Harris

Mildred Harris was a silent film actress who married Charlie Chaplin when she was just sixteen years old

She was born Mildred Leontine Anna Harris on November 29, 1901 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Her father, Harry Harris, was a telegraph operator. At the age of ten she made her film debut in the short The Post Telegrapher. Mildred had roles in dozens of films including The Magic Cloak Of Oz, The Bad Boy, and Intolerance directed by D.W. Griffith. In 1918 the sixteen year old began dating twenty-nine year old Charlie Chaplin. A few months into the relationship she told him she was pregnant. The couple were married on October 23, 1918. Although her pregnancy turned out to be a false alarm she actually did get pregnant soon after the wedding. During the pregnancy she suffered a nervous breakdown and had to be hospitalized. On July 7, 1919 she gave birth to a son named Norman Spencer. Tragically he died when he was just three days old. Hoping to capitalize on her newfound fame Louis B. Mayer offered her a film contract. She was given starring roles in the dramas The Inferior Sex and Polly Of The Storm Country. Mildred left Charlie in 1920 and began a romance with lesbian actress Alla Nazimova.

Mildred HarrisMildred Harris

Their headline making divorce trial ended with her getting a $100,000 settlement. In an interview she said "I couldn't live with a genius". During the 1920s she appeared in numerous films including The Fog, Unmarried Wives, and A Man Of Iron with Lionel Barrymore. Unfortunately she developed a drinking problem and had to file for bankruptcy. She married Everett Terrence McGovern, a realtor, in 1924. The following year she gave birth to a son named Everett. Like many silent actors she had trouble making the transition to sound film. Mildred had supporting roles in the musicals No, No Nanette and The Melody Man. She also toured the country in vaudeville and performed in burlesque. After divorcing her husband she married Bill Fleckenstein, a former football player, in 1934. By the early 1940s she was only able to get bit part in film like Holiday Inn and Reap The Wild Wind. Mildred had an abdominal operation in June of 1944 and developed pneumonia. Tragically on July 20, 1944 she died at the young age of forty-two. She was buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California. Her final film, Having Wonderful Crime, was released after her death.

Mildred HarrisMildred Harris