Everyone knows of the silent screen star Charlie Chaplin but his leading lady, one-time lover and life-long friend Edna Purviance is long forgotten, as is Edna’s best friend comedienne and actress Mabel Normand.
Edna and Chaplin appeared in nearly 40 films together, beginning in February, 1915, with A Night Out, and included Chaplin’s most famous movie, The Tramp.
Chaplin and Edna’s love affair waned but they remained friends.
On New Year’s Eve 1924 Edna was partying with oil magnate and notorious playboy, Courtland Dines. The party continued into the next day with Edna’s best friend, silent screen actress Mabel Normand joining the party. An argument erupted between Dines and Mabel’s chauffer, a strange little man besotted with Mabel, and Dines was shot with a gun that belonged to Mabel. It wasn’t the first time Mabel had been involved in a shooting. When Director William Desmond Taylor was shot and killed in his home a few years earlier Mabel was a suspect. Dines refused to testify at the trial and the chauffeur was acquitted. Mabel’s movies were banned in many American cities and both actresses faded into obscurity. This was the time of the prohibition and also a time when Hollywood was being strongly condemned as a hotbed of immorality. The scandal ended the careers of both screen stars.