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Actress Josephine Chaplin Dies at 74; She Was the Daughter of Charlie Chaplin and Oona O’Neill

Actress Josephine Chaplin, 74, died on July 13 in Paris. She was the daughter of legendary actor Charlie Chaplin and his fourth wife, Oona O’Neill. No cause of death was revealed, and her funeral services were private, “in the intimacy of her family.”

Born in Santa Monica, California in 1949, Josephine Chaplin was the third of eight children fathered by Charlie with Oona, who was the daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill. When she was seven, she made her first public performance in a school play in Montreux, Switzerland. The event was recorded in a 1956 Life magazine story in 1956, titled Chaplin’s Dancing Daughter.” She was described as a “pert young lady” who showed “all grace and poise” in her role.

As an adult, Josephine Chaplin made her own film debut in 1972, in Menahem Golan’s Escape to the Sun. She had earlier appeared in two of her father’s films, Limelight in 1952 and A Countess from Hong Kong in 1967. Also in 1972, she played the role of May in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s X-rated The Canterbury Tales.

Josephine had also appeared in several French films, including Nuits rouges and À l’ombre d’un été. In L’odeur des fauves, she was seen with Vittoria De Sica and Maurice Ronel. She also appeared with Klaus Kinski in a German-language film about Jack the Ripper, and with Liv Ullman and Kiefer Sutherland in Daniel Petrie’s The Bay Boy. In a 1988 miniseries that starred Stacy Keach, she portrayed Hadley Richardson, the first wife of Ernest Hemingway.

Josephine Chaplin’s first husband was the Greek furrier Nikki Sistovaris; her second was the archaeologist Jean-Claude Gardin. She is survived by her brothers Michael, Eugene and Christopher; sisters Geraldine, Victoria, Jane and Annette; and her sons Charly, Julien and Arthur. Her father, Charlie Chaplin, had died in 1977; her mother Oona died in 1991.

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Edward Moran
Edward Moran
Edward Moran began his journalistic career many decades ago as a theater and cinema reviewer for Show Business and the New York Theater Review. More recently he contributed film reviews to and Movie Sleuth. His writings have appeared in publications as diverse as the Times Literary Supplement, Publishers Weekly, the Paris Review, and the Massachusetts Review. Moran also edited a memoir by Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Christine Choy. He served as literary advisor to her film Hyam Plutzik: American Poet, which was the keynote film in the American Perspectives series at the 2007 Zebra Poetry Film Festival in Berlin.


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