Charlie Chaplin’s Stalker: ‘Mad Josefina’


Today, reports of obsessed fans stalking well-known actors is commonplace. One of the earlier incidents of star-stalking occurred in 1923 when comedian Charlie Chaplin’s home was invaded by an infatuated admirer, a young Mexican girl, Marina Vega, dubbed by the Mexican press as “Mad Josefina.”

Marina, a beautiful and reportedly well-built girl, was recently married to Jose Rivero, a prosperous rancher, but became bored with the ranchers life and escaped to Mexico City in early March 1923. It was there that she went on an extravagant nine-day visit, literally throwing her money away.

Her husband soon followed her, and on March 10, 1923 — after leading detectives on a merry chase — she was arrested for desertion. A brief reconciliation with Rivero followed, initiated by the city’s inspector general, Almada. However, rumors spread throughout the city that Almada and a General Serrano, had lavishly “entertained” Marina. Almada admitted knowing the girl and giving her money, but only so she could leave the city.

The Mexican press reported the eccentricities of “Mad Josefina” and her desire to become a great motion picture actress. After reportedly buying a thousand pesos worth of dresses and hats, and billing them to Almada, Marina left for Hollywood and her idol — Charlie Chaplin.

Charlie Chaplin’s former home at 6147 Temple Hill Drive in the Hollywood Hills.

Arriving in Los Angeles a few days later, Marina checked into the Alexandria Hotel. On Thursday, March 29, 1923, the buxom admirer found her way to Chaplin’s residence at 6147 Temple Hill Drive in the Hollywood Hills. She gained entrance to the house through the ruse of dropping a diamond ring in the shirt-pocket of his cook who answered the doorbell, dashing by him as he fished for it.

Kono, Chaplin’s valet, and the other servants were unable to remove her so they called director Eddie Sutherland from Chaplin’s studio, as a reinforcement; she was found in the comedians bedroom. After much cajoling, they tricked her into one of Chaplin’s cars and returned her to the Alexandria.

That evening, while Chaplin was entertaining his fiancé Pola Negri, and Dr. Cecil Reynolds, Kono interrupted and excitedly told his boss that Marina had returned and was again in Chaplin’s bedroom wearing his silk pajamas!

‘Mad Josefina’

Reynolds and Kono persuaded Marina to get dressed and then introduced her to Chaplin. She told the comedian that she had come all the way from Mexico City to meet him. After further questioning, Chaplin told her to return to her hotel, and he would buy her a train ticket back to Mexico City. She promised not to bother him again.

The next day, Chaplin heard nothing of his crazed admirer. However, on Saturday evening, March 31, he was again entertaining Pola and Reynolds. As they were sitting down to dinner, Kono rushed in and told Chaplin that Marina had strewn red roses on the driveway and, when she was refused admittance, had shot herself in the head.

Reynolds and Kono carried Marina into the kitchen where she told the doctor that she had taken poison. (Kono thought she had shot herself because, as he looked out from an upstairs window, the moonlight made a oil-stain on the pavement near her head look like blood). An ambulance was called and she was taken to the Hollywood Receiving Hospital.

Marina was treated and released, although doctors questioned whether she had swallowed poison. A half-hour later, reporters found her at the Alexandria Hotel eating ice cream. However, Marina declared that her love for Chaplin had chilled – but not for long.

The former Chaplin home as it looks today. This is all that is visible from the street as the estate is now surrounded by twenty-foot hedges. (Please note, this is a private residence. Do not disturb the occupants!)

The following Tuesday, Kono discovered a trail of muddied footprints on the sidewalk outside Chaplin’s home. The police were called, and a search of the area found Marina in a rented room at a nearby Beachwood Drive residence. A policewoman from the Hollywood division removed “Mad Josefina” to the Business Girl’s Home on Bonnie Brae Avenue.

Chaplin released a statement saying that “the girl’s case is very pathetic and I am willing to pay her way back to her home.” The ever-dramatic Pola Negri was reportedly ill from the excitement.

“Mad Josefina” apparently returned to Mexico, and was never heard from again.

 

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