Lita Grey was born in Hollywood, California and christened Lillita Louise MacMurray. Her father was of Scottish descent and her mother’s family was descended from an illustrious 9th-generation Californian Spanish family, whose luminaries included Antonio Maria Lugo. The Lugos were from Andalucia, Spain and were one of the first to bring horses to the country. Misinformation persists to this day that her family was of Mexican descent, despite her family history being well-documented. Lita Grey married four times. By her own account, she first met Charlie Chaplin at the age of eight at a Hollywood café and first worked with him at the age of twelve in the part of the “flirting angel” in The Kid. Her one-year contract was not renewed after appearing briefly as a maid in The Idle Class. She met Chaplin again at the age of fifteen when she heard he was testing brunettes for his The Gold Rush. They had an affair and she suspected she had become pregnant by the then-thirty-five-year-old Chaplin. As he could have been imprisoned for having sexual relations with a minor, they married that November in secret in Empalme, Sonora, Mexico to avoid a scandal. They had two sons, Charles Chaplin, Jr. (1925–1968) and Sydney Earl Chaplin (1926–2009). The marriage was troubled from the start. The two had few interests in common, and Chaplin spent as much time as he could away from home, working on The Gold Rush (in which Grey was to have played the female lead) and later The Circus. They divorced on August 22, 1927, due to his alleged numerous affairs with other women, and he was ordered to pay over US$600,000 and US$100,000 in trust for each child. It was the largest divorce settlement at the time. The divorce was one of the sensational media events of the time. Copies of her lengthy divorce complaint which made scandalous sexual claims against Chaplin were published and publicly sold.
She later married Henry Aguirre and later Arthur Day. According to the 1940 United States Census, Lita and Arthur lived at 38 East 50th Street, in New York City, New York, and that in 1935, she had lived in England. The census listed her occupation as “singer,” and Arthur’s as “manager personal.” She married her fourth husband, Patsy Pizzolongo (aka Pat Longo), on September 22, 1956, in Los Angeles, California. They were divorced in June 1966. In the 1970s and 1980s she worked as a clerk at Robinson’s Department Store in Beverly Hills. She wrote two autobiographical volumes covering her life with Chaplin. My Life With Chaplin (1966) was by her own admission largely a work of exaggeration and fabrication. She claimed to tell the story as it really was in her second memoir Wife of the Life of the Party (1995). Lita Grey was portrayed by Deborah Moore in the 1992 film Chaplin, though Grey was depicted on screen for less than a minute in the final film. Kenneth Anger devoted a colorful chapter to Lita Grey in his 1959 book Hollywood Babylon. Lita Grey died in Los Angeles, at age 87 of cancer, and was buried in Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery in North Hollywood, California.
- April, 15, 1908
- Hollywood, California
- December, 29, 1995
- Los Angeles, California
Cause of Death
- Pierce Brothers Valhalla Memorial Park
- North Hollywood, California