Photoplay (Jan-Jun 1929)

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'No Kxperiena Required I "To be a leading woman for me," says Charlie Chaplin, "a girl must have appeal but not sex appeal'' susceptible to vibrations. When one becomes absorbed in a part one is only a sounding board reflecting the play of emotions. "Also, a girl must be ambitious. Otherwise, she will not take her work seriously. And to succeed, one must be intensely serious, particularly in pictures." All the Chaplin leading women have possessed these qualifications. Run down the list. Edna I'urviance, Lita Grey, Georgia Hale, Merna Kennedy and now Virginia Cherrill. NOTE well that there has been something dramatic — something really romantic, about the bolt of lightning that has hit these unknowns, from first to latest. In 1915 Chaplin went to a dance in San Francisco. He didn't crave it, but he went. There he met a blonde girl from Lovelock, Nevada, who was learning stenography in the Golden Gate town. He danced with the girl, and liked her. Her name was Edna Purviance. Today that same blonde girl, who never had a written contract with Charles Chaplin in her life, who received other ofTers and could have left him flat on the lot, who never took advantage of her position as the great comedian's lead — is still on the Chaplin payroll at precisely the same salary she enjoyed during the height of her popularity. Chaplin's intimates say that whether Edna Purviance makes a picture or never postures for the camera again she will still be on that salary list at full pay. That's the Chaplin sense of loyalty. Charlie first met Lita Grey when she was doing an e.xtra bit in "The Kid." She was just a spindly kid then, less than 12. She and her mother both worked in that one, and in "The Idle Class." Then, when Charlie began "The Gold Rush" without a leading lady Mrs. Grey brought Lita over to show the comic what a big girl she was now. She wore an organdie dress, and its simplicity caught Charlie's eye. He made a test of her, bundled in furs. After all, he might need a head girl before the film was through. The rest is in the book. GEORGIA HALE was discovered along with Joe von Sternberg. She was the leading woman in "Salvation Hunters." George K. Arthur, then a cocky little Britisher doubling from the grocery business into films, wangled Charlie into taking a look at the picture. That great story, too, is in the book. Arthur got a swell job w^ith Metro-Goldwyn, and Chaplin made Miss Hale leading woman in "The Gold Rush" after his marriage to Lita Grey. .\nd Georgia is "_Chaplin's staunch admirer and friend today. Oddly enough, Merna Kennedy was introduced to Chaplin by Lita, who recommended her for the lead in "The Circus." That, of course, was pre-war, before suits and counter-suits had turned Chaplin's hair grey, and no pun meant. The story of Virginia Cherrill remains to be told. Time will tell it. The beginning is dramatic and romantic. What the end will be is in the lap of the gods. Since Purviance's day, no leading woman for Chaplin has made more than one picture. They come and go, like the seasons and the family bootlegger. They are not too beautiful, these children of chance. They are without experience. What to do, girls? Carry a rabbit's foot, probably. And yet the rabbit .once had four of them, and what good did they do him? 6^dnm bo