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Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins: A Mexican?

22 June 2013

Thanks to Sterling Bennett for this:

Charlie Chaplin married his second wife, actress Lita Grey (real name Lillita Louise MacMurray), in Empalme, Sonora on 26 November 1924 in the offices of Registrar Civil Ignacio Haro. Judge Haro provided three witnesses, Carlos Álvarez, G. Félix and Isidro de c-litaJesús Guerrero, while Chaplin brought along three witnesses of his own, , Charles T. Reissner (who understood Spanish well enough to translate for Chaplin), Edward Manson and Louise S. Curry. Also attending was the bride’s mother, Mexican-born Lilian Spicer. Lilian, something of a classic stage-mother, had pushed the Hollywood born and bred Lillita into the film industry, where she had been working with Chaplin when the girl was 12.

At the time, Empale was both a company town, serving employees of the U.S. owned Compañía del Ferrocarril Sudpacífico, and wealthy Californians seeking a refuge both from prohibition and those pesky State morals laws. Three months pregnant with the future Charles Chaplin Jr.  Lita was 16.  The groom was 35, and — under California law — liable to be imprisoned for sexual relations with a female under 18 who was not his wife.

To no surprise, the marriage lasted less than two years and became notable mostly because Lillita, aka Lita, received what was at the time the largest divorce settlement in U.S. history (600,000 for Lillita, and a 100,000 trust fund for Charles Chaplin Jr and his brother Sydney, born a year after Charles).

lolita_r2_00.17.00

Sue Lyon, the ultimate screen Lolita, 1962… obviously not Mexican

According to Chaplin biographer Joyce Milton, Russian emigre Vladimar Nabokov, transformed the California Mexican Lillita into the New England college town Lolita, being much more interested in the story of a middle-aged European seduced by a young American… or, in this case, Mexican-American.

Saúl Santana Bracamontes, Charles Chaplin; la boda en Empalme (El Tribuna [Cd. Obegón, Sonora] 24 November 2012), Wikipedia, IMDB,

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