Lita Grey (and her mother) also relied on the tactical strategy
of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy to bring about a shotgun wedding with a much less gullible and much more mistrustful Chaplin. Despite his fears about being tricked into marrying a manipulative and seductive teenage girl for the second time in a row, Grey’s pre-marital medical examination conclusively demonstrated that she actually was pregnant. Lita and her mother categorically refused to have an abortion. If Chaplin refused to marry her daughter, Grey’s mother threatened to press charges for corrupting the morals of a minor.
Ruefully recalling these first two intellectually mis-matched domestic experiences--with Mildred Harris and Lita Grey--Chaplin later said: “marriage is the quickest death of individuality known to man.” As to the issue of whether or not Charlie robbed the cradle and took unfair advantage of a “dumb” high school dropout, Will Rogers quipped: “This girl don’t need to go to school. Any girl smart enough to marry Charlie Chaplin should be lecturing at Vassar College on ‘Taking advantage of your opportunities.’"
Recalling the onset of her “Napoleon-Josephine” affair with Chaplin many years later, Grey wrote: “I wasn’t old enough or bright enough to know what the feelings I had for him added up to…[and]…what could a passably pretty kid of fifteen, who made fifteen-year-old conversation, possibly have that would interest him?” Chaplin’s recollection was that “her mother deliberately and continuously put Lita in my path. She encouraged our relations.” See photo above of 15-year-old Grey, 35-year-old Chaplin and Grey’s 36-year-old mother Lillian signing The Gold Rush contract that laid the groundwork for Lita and Charlie’s close daily proximity and resulted in her unplanned pregnancy (bottom right). Both views of who seduced who—Grey’s and Chaplin’s—are equally plausible and non-contradictory.
Sam Goldwyn recalled: “I remember very well I warned Charlie several times about Lita and her mother. The latter kept track of Chaplin’s evening movements. If he went to a restaurant, mama was there with Lita, pushing the child under Charlie’s nose: if he went to the theater, mama was there with Lita. If ever I saw a girl waiting to be seduced, it was Lita.”
The Chaplin-Grey divorce settlement (the most lucrative in U.S. history up to that time) was frequently referred to as “the second Gold Rush.” It was Grey who recalled (in her memoirs) her overnight transformation in Chaplin’s eyes from an innocent virgin to a golddigging whore. Of more than passing interest, before Lita Grey became pregnant, Chaplin cast her to play the lead female role of Georgia, the dance hall prostitute in The Gold Rush. The heroine in The Gold Rush was unconsciously modeled on Chaplin’s mother’s real-life experiences in a gold rush--see “Charlie Chaplin’s Film Heroines” in Richard Schickel’s The Essential Chaplin for the historical details of her South African gold rush experiences. For Lita Grey’s memoirs see Jeffrey Vance’s Wife of the Life of the Party.