By now you may have guessed that Norma Desmond is my classic movie guru - wisdom wrapped in warped glamorous illusion and delusion. "They took the idols of the world and smashed them!" Somehow, they all became real. And even those who managed to maintain their god and goddess-like state while alive were revealed as all too real after death. But not Edna Purviance.
Beautiful Edna Purviance was Charlie Chaplin's leading lady. It was all about Charlie, always, and so Edna served as the pretty girl, the lovely background. She was sweet and placid, not really an actress. But you know how sometimes it's the quiet person in the background that you can't help noticing? There was just something about her.
Edna's star did not shine without Chaplin and so she faded from view and, eventually, from memory. It seems no one, least of all Edna, was interested in pursuing her life in public.
Like a beautiful painting once viewed and then hidden away, Edna remains a mystery. There were no biographies, only little stories about her written in the margins of some other famous people's lives.Tempting tidbits. Watching her with Chaplin you could ask "who was Edna?", but there are no answers. No voices. Only a face and graceful form. Is she a blank slate? A silly empty girl? Or is she the fascinating darling with skin as soft as rose petals and laughter as sweet as tinkling bells? In the magic that is conjured in the dark she stakes a claim on my imagination and will not leave. She is my creation. My Edna can be like no one else's Edna. Through neglect, a forgotten idol is spared.
Will my last idol be smashed? Linda Wada, the conquistador who cracked the code of Edna, is writing Edna's biography. And I do want to know everything. I can't help myself. But my own private Edna will be gone.
To learn all about Edna, visit www.ednapurviance.org and be prepared to be charmed.