Purviance, Edna (1894–1958)

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Purviance, Edna (1894–1958)

American actress who appeared in silent films opposite Charlie Chaplin from 1915 to 1923. Pronunciation: per-VY-unce. Born in Loeclock, Paradise Valley, Nevada, in 1894; died in 1958.

Selected filmography:

The Champion (1915); In the Park (1915); A Jitney Elopement (1915); The Tramp (1915); By the Sea (1915); Work (1915); A Woman (1915); The Bank (1915); Shanghaied (1915); A Night in the Show (1915); Burlesque on Carmen (1916); Police (1916); Triple Trouble (1916); The Floorwalker (1916); The Fireman (1916); The Vagabond (1916); The Count (1916); The Pawnshop (1916); Behind the Screen (1916); The Rink (1916); Easy Street (1917); The Cure (1917); The Immigrant (1917); The Adventurer (1917); A Dog's Life (1918); The Bond (1918); Shoulder Arms (1918); Sunnyside (1919); A Day's Pleasure (1919); The Kid (1921); The Idle Class (1921); Pay Day (1922); The Pilgrim (1923); A Woman of Paris (1923); L'Education de Prince (Fr., 1926); A Woman of the Sea (The Sea Gull, 1926); Monsieur Verdoux (extra, 1947); Limelight (extra, 1952).

Born in Paradise Valley, Nevada, in 1894, Edna Purviance was working as a typist in San Francisco when she visited Essanay Studios on a trip to Hollywood in 1915 and was invited to make a screen test. Charlie Chaplin, who had just joined Essanay from Keystone, saw the test and cast the pretty blue-eyed blonde as his leading lady in The Champion (1915). Purviance continued to star in most of Chaplin's films until 1923, when the relationship soured. When she subsequently starred in A Woman of the Sea, under the direction of Josef von Sternberg, Chaplin, as producer, refused to release the film for some time. Despite the falling out, Chaplin kept the actress under contract and later used her as an extra in two of his sound films, Monsieur Verdoux (1947) and Limelight (1952). Purviance died in 1958.


Finch, John Richard. Close-Ups: From the Golden Age of the Silent Cinema. NY: A.S. Barnes, 1978.

Katz, Ephraim. The Film Encyclopedia. NY: Harper-Collins, 1994.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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Purviance, Edna (1894–1958)

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