Marie Doro - A Forgotten Star

The following excerpts relating to Marie Doro are from Charlie Chaplin's autobiography, published in 1964. Marie was born in 1882 and Charlie in 1889, so on their first meeting in London in 1905 she was seven years his senior and the effect which the accomplished actress of twentythree had on the raw youth of sixteen can be understood. Possibly this was Charlie's only platonic relationship.

"And the next morning, waiting on the stage for rehearsals, and seeing Marie Doro for the first time, dressed in the loveliest white summer dress. The sudden shock of seeing someone so beautiful at that hour! She had been riding in a hansom cab and had discovered an ink spot on her dress, and wanted to know if the property man had anything that would take it out, and to his answer of doubt she made the prettiest expression of irritation; 'Oh, isn't that too beastly!'

She was so devatatingly beautiful that I resented her. I resented her delicate, pouting lips, her regular white teeth, her adorable chin, her raven hair and dark brown eyes. I resented her pretence of irritation and the charm she exuded through it. Through all this querying between herself and the property man she was ignorant of my presence, although I stood quite near, staring, transfixed by her beauty. I had just turned sixteen, and the propinquity of this sudden radiance evoked my determination not to be obssessed by it. But, oh God, she was beautiful! It was love at first sight".

And some ten years later:-

"Before leaving Los Angeles for the Third Liberty Loan Campaign, I had met Marie Doro. She had come to Hollywood to star in Paramount pictures. She was a Chaplin fan, and told Constance Collier that the one person she wanted to meet in Hollywood was Charlie Chaplin - not having the faintest idea that I had played with her in London at the Duke of York's Theatre.

So I met Marie Doro again. It was like the second act of a romantic play. After Constance had introduced me I said: 'But we've met before. You broke my heart. I was silently in love with you.' Marie, looking through her lorgnette at me and as beautiful as ever, said: 'How thrilling.' Then I explained that I was Billy in 'Sherlock Holmes'. Later we dined in the garden. It was a warm summer's evening and in the glow of candle-light I talked about the frustrations of a youth silently in love with her and told her that at the Duke of York's Theatre I would time the moment that she left her dressing-room so as to meet her on the stairs and gulp 'good evening'. We talked of London and Paris; Marie loved Paris and we talked of the bistros, of the cafes, of Maxim's and the Champs-Elysees...

And now Marie was in New York! And hearing I was staying at the Ritz, she had written me a letter inviting me to dine at her apartment, or go to Maxims or drive through Central Park. But we just dined quietly in Marie's apartment alone."

And some six years later:-

"When I arrived in New York, Marie Doro telephoned. Marie Doro telephoning - what that would have meant a few years ago! I took her to lunch and afterwards went to the matinee of the play in which she was peforming: 'Lilies of the Field'-"




Marie Doro in "Sherlock Holmes"