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|Oona O'Neill Chaplin|
Oona O'Neill with her husband, Charlie Chaplin, in 1944.
14 May 1925
Warwick Parish, Bermuda
|Died||27 September 1991
|Spouse(s)||Charlie Chaplin (m. 1943–w. 1977)|
|Children||Geraldine Chaplin (b. 1944)
Michael Chaplin (b. 1946)
Josephine Chaplin (b. 1949)
Victoria Chaplin (b. 1951)
Eugene Chaplin (b. 1953)
Jane Chaplin (b. 1957)
Annette Chaplin (b. 1959)
Christopher Chaplin (b. 1962)
|Parents||Eugene O'Neill (1888–1953)
Agnes Boulton (1893–1968)
Oona, Lady Chaplin (née O'Neill) (May 14, 1925 – September 27, 1991) was the daughter of Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Eugene O'Neill and writer Agnes Boulton, and the fourth and last wife of British comic and filmmaker Charlie Chaplin.
Oona was born while her parents were living at Spithead (originally the home of 18th-century privateer Hezekiah Frith), in Bermuda. She was two years old when Eugene O'Neill left the family for actress Carlotta Monterey who became his third wife.
Oona spent her summers in the Boulton family's rambling Victorian house in Point Pleasant, New Jersey; the rest of the year she lived in Manhattan with her mother, where she attended the Brearley School. In 1942, seventeen-year-old Oona was named "Debutante of the Year." Deciding to pursue an acting career instead of attending Vassar College, she got a part in a stock company stage production of Pal Joey and formed close friendships with Carol Grace Saroyan and Gloria Vanderbilt.
Oona dated cartoonist Peter Arno, director Orson Welles, and author J. D. Salinger. To Salinger's disappointment, however, their relationship ended when she met Charlie Chaplin, after having been suggested to him for a part in one of his films. Chaplin wrote in his autobiography that he was instantly smitten by Oona's "luminous beauty and sequestered charm."
Eugene O'Neill was outraged at the news of his daughter's affair with Chaplin and refused to give his consent so that she could marry him before her eighteenth birthday. After their marriage in June 1943, he cut Oona out of his life, refusing her attempts at a reconciliation. According to biographer Jane Scovell, playwright Clifford Odets "saw something vindictive in O'Neill's behaviour and thought that O'Neill could not forgive Oona perhaps because he had abandoned her."
While attending the London premiere of his film Limelight in September 1952, Chaplin was accused of "Communist sympathies" and denied re-entry into the United States. Because of the tax laws in England, the family (which by then included four children), chose to relocate to Switzerland. Oona returned to the United States by herself to close their California house and to surreptitiously collect all Chaplin's assets from safe deposit boxes, even as the FBI was questioning the members of their staff. Oona renounced her American citizenship shortly after returning to Europe. She and Chaplin settled permanently with their family in Vevey, Switzerland, where they spent the majority of their thirty-four-year marriage.
Chaplin and Oona remained married until his death in 1977 and had eight children together over 18 years: Geraldine Leigh (b. July 1944), Michael John (b. March 1946), Josephine Hannah (b. March 1949), Victoria (b. May 1951), Eugene Anthony (b. August 1953), Jane Cecil (b. May 1957), Annette Emily (b. December 1959), and Christopher James (b. July 1962). It was by all accounts a happy marriage despite the age difference.
Following Chaplin's death, Oona first moved to New York, but towards the end of the 1980s returned to Switzerland. She died of pancreatic cancer aged 66 on September 27, 1991, in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland.
- Kakutani, Michiko (February 10, 2011). "‘J. D. Salinger: A Life' by Kenneth Slawenski - Review". The New York Times.
- Robinson, pp. 671-675.
- David Robinson (1984). Chaplin, the mirror of opinion. Indiana University Press. p. 149. ISBN 0-253-11178-1.
- Charles J Maland (1989). Chaplin and American Culture: The Evolution of a Star Image. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press. p. 335. ISBN 0-691-02860-5 9780691028606 Check
- Chaplin, Patrice: Hidden Star
- Saroyan, Aram: Trio
- Matthau, Carol: Among the Porcupines
- Scovell, Jane: Oona: Living in the Shadows
- Chaplin, Charles: My Autobiography