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Edna Purviance (Olga Edna Purviance)

Edna Purviance

Edna Purviance was born in Paradise Valley, Nevada, to Louis and Madison Gates Purviance. When she was three, the family moved to Lovelock, Nevada, where they assumed ownership of a hotel. Her parents divorced in 1902, and her mother later married Robert Nurnberger, a German plumber. Growing up, Purviance was a talented pianist. She left Lovelock in 1913, and attended business college in San Francisco. In 1915, Purviance was working as a secretary in San Francisco when actor and director Charlie Chaplin was working on his second film with Essanay Studios, working out of Niles, California, one hour southeast of San Francisco, in Southern Alameda County. He was looking for a leading lady for A Night Out. One of his associates noticed Purviance at a Tate’s Café in San Francisco and thought she should be cast in the role. Chaplin arranged a meeting with her and, although he was concerned that she might be too serious for comedic roles, she won the job. Chaplin and Edna Purviance were romantically involved during the making of his Essanay, Mutual, and First National films of 1915 to 1917. Purviance appeared in 33 of Chaplin’s productions, including the 1921 classic The Kid. Her last film with him, A Woman of Paris, was also her first lead role. The film was not a success and effectively ended Purviance’s career. She went on to appear in two more films: The Sea Gull, also known as A Woman of the Sea (which Chaplin never released) and Éducation de Prince, a French film released in 1927, just before she retired from acting. She has been credited as an extra in Chaplin’s final two American movies, Monsieur Verdoux and Limelight. Chaplin kept her on his payroll until her death in 1958. On January 11, 1958, Edna Purviance died from throat cancer at the Motion Picture Country Hospital in Hollywood. Her remains are interred at Grand View Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

More Images

  • Purviance -

  • f49bc7a0fd85388b5ff30e26b3f51666 -


  • October, 21, 1895
  • USA
  • Paradise Valley, Nevada


  • January, 11, 1958
  • USA
  • Hollywood, California

Cause of Death

  • throat cancer


  • Grand View Memorial Park
  • Glendale, California
  • USA

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