Georgia Hale landed one of the lead roles in Charlie Chaplin’s film The Gold Rush (1925) when her friend Lita Grey, originally cast in the role, became pregnant and had to back out. The role won her instant star status. Her previous roles had either been uncredited or she was simply known as “the girl.”
Following The Gold Rush, Georgia appeared in a mere 12 films before leaving acting. Her last role was in a Rin-Tin-Tin “serial” (The Lightning Warrior, 1939).
Georgia Theodora Hale was born on June 27, 1900 in St. Joseph, Missouri. She won a beauty contest in Chicago in 1922 and used the award money to move to New York City, hoping to break into theater. When she was unsuccessful in theater, rather than thinking, “I can’t do this…” and heading back home, Georgia simply decided to move to Hollywood and give them a chance to cash in on what theater was obviously missing.
I LOVE her “lemons to lemonade” approach.
In Hollywood, Georgia immediately found work in By Divine Right (1924), and she danced in the chorus of Vanity’s Price (1924). Her big break came with Chaplin’s The Gold Rush, turning in a memorable and wonderful performance as a gorgeous dance hall girl who catches the little tramp’s eye and wins his heart.
I feel rich for having been so close to him. ~ Georgia Hale (About Charlie Chaplin)
The Gold Rush, understandably, was a big hit, and launched Georgia to instant fame. It is, in fact, Charlie Chaplin’s favorite movie he made. The best part of the film, from Georgia’s standpoint would be the fact that a very long, very close relationship developed between herself and Charlie Chaplin. Her love for him kept her from ever marrying. In her heart, it appears, she believed she was “spoken for.” Ironically (and very sadly, in my opinion), Chaplin had many other relationships and married more than once.
Georgia Hale was signed by Paramount Pictures and found herself in another hit, The Great Gatsby in 1926. In The Great Gatsby, she played the role of Myrtle Wilson. The cast included Warner Baxter, Lois Wilson, Neil Hamilton (best known as the Commissioner Gordon in the Batman TV series) and future STAR (all caps) William Powell.
Georgia’s last silent picture was The Last Moment in 1928.
Georgia Hale’s last movie was a 12 episode Rin-Tin-Tin serial titled The Lighting Warrior in 1931. There are many stars I frantically wish had been in more films (Claire Trevor is one that comes to mind), but none more so than Georgia Hale. Though it’s really tough, I try not to make comparisons among stars of yesterday and today, but in this case it’s so obvious to me, I can’t help myself. Georgia Hale often reminds me of an exquisite combination of Barbara Stanwyck and Keira Knightley.
Great trick to pull of if you have the goods to do so!
Georgia wrote two versions of her autobiography (as well as a fictional love story) but had difficulty finding a publisher for her writing. Ten years after her death, a publisher published her book, Charlie Chaplin: Intimate Closeups. Click the link to find this book on Amazon (I just threw it into my shopping cart with wild abandon!).
After leaving Hollywood (she wasn’t one of the lucky ones who transitioned from Silents to Talkies), she wrote and eventually went into Real Estate. Apparently, her real estate ventures made her quite wealthy!
She was a stunning, bright light that didn’t shine long (onscreen, that is) but shined very brightly.
Georgia Hale died on June 7, 1985 in Hollywood, California at the age of 84.
UPDATE: I now have Georgia’s wonderful book Charlie Chaplin: Intimate Closeups in my possession and I cherish it as much as gold would have been cherished in her most famous film. I’ll soon be writing much more about both Georgia Hale and the man she spent a lifetime adoring, Charlie Chaplin.
Watch The Gold Rush below (or on YouTube). I love this wonderful Silent Film!