If the Little Tramp had lived in the 21st century, he'd probably already be in jail.
The facts of Charlie Chaplin's sex life are no less scandalous than that of Harvey Weinstein, but because the era in which he lived, they were mostly covered up by studio press agents working overtime to keep people in the dark and the box office receipts pouring in.
It was no secret in Hollywood that Chaplin was a comic genius with a predilection for young girls, yet his libido only came close to killing his career when he was well in his 50s. When it did, it came crashing down in such a way that he retired from the US and public life altogether.
He did return once, in 1972, when he was given an honorary Oscar. Hollywood's elite turned out to celebrate the man who in part helped make the industry what it is today—and that, in the era of #MeToo, may very well be the problem.
Chaplin Was On Trial For Using Actress Joan Barry As A Sex Slave
In 1936, Charlie married actress Paulette Goddard, who was age appropriate in that she wasn't a teen. They were married for seven years, but a year before they divorced, Chaplin met starlet Joan Barry in New York. The two started a tryst almost immediately: he was 52 and she was 21. Chaplin invited her to Los Angeles and paid for her ticket. According to FBI documents, Chaplin "made her (Barry) available to other individuals for immoral purposes" which was in violation of the Mann Act, defined as "transport for the purpose of prostitution or illegal sexual acts."
Though Chaplin was eventually exonerated, things soon took a turn for the worse.
Barry Broke Into His House, Held Him At Gunpoint, And Accused Him Of Fathering Her Child
Joan Barry had mental issues and as the relationship went south, her behavior became more and more erratic. At one point she attempted to break into his home and held him up at gunpoint. She later testified that he had fathered her daughter, Carol Ann. Chaplin denied it and was all too happy to take a blood test to prove otherwise, which it actually did. But, at that point in time, blood tests were not admissible in court and despite its finding, the court ruled against Chaplin, holding him responsible for her pregnancy. He was ordered to not only pay court fees but also pay child support for the kid that wasn't his.
In 1952, Chaplin left the US for good stating, "I would not go back there even if Jesus Christ were the president.” In 1953, due to that case, and others like it, blood tests were made admissible by California's Uniform Act on Blood Tests to Determine Paternity.
Charlie Chaplin Slept With An Estimated 2,000 Women In His Lifetime
Charlie Chaplin was a great talent but incorrigible when it came to sex. It is said that he slept with over 2,000 women in his lifetime, which he alleged was a result of severe abandonment issues as a result of his upbringing.
Chaplin's family was dirt poor. His father ran off when he was just a boy, and his mother had sold her body to support them. Due to her lifestyle, she had contracted syphilis, which caused her mental illness and dementia. Of his family, Chaplin once said, “To gauge the morals of our family by commonplace standards would be as erroneous as putting a thermometer in boiling water.” His upbringing no doubt influenced the success, and failure, of his future relationships.
He Met Lita Grey When She Was 6 And Seduced Her At 15
By her own account, Chaplin met second wife Lillita MacMurray (AKA Lita Grey) when she was just six, and put her in his movies when she was 12. When she screen tested for the Gold Rush in 1924 he allegedly told her, “When the time and place are right, we’re going to make love.” Weeks later, the time was apparently right — at least, for Chaplin anyway. They consummated their relationship in the steam room of his Beverly Hills mansion and she, like Harris before her, became pregnant. Chaplin was 35 at the time and Grey was just 15.