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What is Leading Ladies?
Edna Purviance's grandniece Lita Hill
Lita Hill - Apr. 1933 - Jan. 2008

Leading Ladies was formed in 2005
to preserve the memory of Edna Purviance.

Lita and Ellie Hill are Edna Purviance's grand nieces, and they knew Edna for 25 years, and lived with her in Hollywood in the early 1950s.

Edna Purviance's grandniece Ellie Hill
Ellie Hill

The Hill sisters are the daughters of Sidney Morgan Hill, and Morgan was the son of Edna's sister Bessie. Edna and Morgan were best friends growing up in Lovelock, Nevada. At one time, Morgan was an assistant cameraman at the Chaplin Studio, but his work there came after the period of Edna's film career.

Lita and Ellie Hill care for Edna's extensive collection of possessions and memorabilia, along with those of the Hill family.

In 2005, Edna's family's descendants decided to merge their efforts with Linda Wada, who is recognized as the leading researcher into the life and career of Edna Purviance.

Edna Purviance's biographer Linda Wada
Linda Wada

Linda has been researching Edna and her family for the last nine years. Her research and tribute web site www.ednapurviance.org has been online since 2001, and has millions of pages viewed to date by visitors from all over the world.

Projects of Leading Ladies to date include:

1. Cataloging the Edna Purviance and Hill Family archives. High resolution scanning of all photographs in the collection, and protection of these images and articles to archival standards.

2. Digital transfer of nine reels of film taken by Jack Squire (Edna's husband). (See an expanded note on this below.)

3. Attendance as guests of honor by Lita Hill and Linda Wada at the premiere of the restored version of the Chaplin created and directed film A Woman of Paris, starring Edna. This event was held in July 2005 at the Festival Il Cinema Ritrovato held in Bologna, Italy.

4. Presentation and premier of Linda Wada's documentary video The Angel from Nevada at Cinecon 42 Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, California. The video is based upon an oral history interview with Lita Hill and her remembrances of Edna. The video premiered to a standing-room-only audience.

5. Support of Linda Wada's project to publish the book The Sea Gull - A Woman of the Sea - the first book to feature Edna.

6. Creation of the EdnaPurviance.COM web site to help fund projects like the above.

Why Edna Purviance?
Edna was Charlie Chaplin's leading lady for over 30 films in an eight-year span. She was Charlie's best and truest friend during the most critical years of his career. Edna had uncommon beauty and a remarkable screen presence, and she was popular around the world at a time when everyone working in films was literally pioneering an industry.

If you never heard of Edna, it may have been because she was one of the film world's most private personalities. She was never a show business diva, and never attempted to elevate herself above the company of players she worked with at the Chaplin Studio. Despite all of Edna's performing gifts, she deflected the praise that came her way, deferring to Chaplin as the source of her success.

One of our favorite quotes about Edna was discovered during the research for The Sea Gull. Adela Rogers St. Johns, a noted writer and Hollywood reporter, wrote in Photoplay Magazine, Feb. 1924:

“Edna Purviance is a mystery woman. An enigma. Less is known about her, both in Hollywood and among the fans, than is known about any other woman of prominence in pictures. Her career has been startlingly unusual. Her personality, her life, remains as baffling as ever.”

That's not to say that Edna was cold and aloof. To her friends, she was an angel. We like to say, you would have been proud to have called her your friend.

What's next for Leading Ladies?
After the publication of The Sea Gull, our attention returns to the research and writing of the book about Edna's life and her colorful Nevada family.

We are also working on videos that will find their way into a self-published DVD. This likely will include: The Angel from Nevada, the documentary video by Linda Wada based upon an oral history interview of Lita Hill, Edna's grand niece. That video was premiered at the 2006's Cinecon 42 Classic Film Festival in Hollywood.

Also, the Hill family backed the digital conversion of a number of unknown films in Edna's personal collection, all of which turned out to be in pristine condition. You can read the story about this project here.

These revealed some scenes of Edna, her husband pilot Jack Squire, and both Edna's and Jack's mothers. Pictured are scenes from Edna's life around 1940 when she and Jack lived in Colombia, South America. Jack's filmmaking shows remarkable scenes from early 20th Century South America, and also, due to his involvement with early commercial aviation and Pan American Airlines – some incredible footage of aircraft, such as the Sikorsky S-42 Clipper flying boat.

Along with all these projects, we will be expanding the offerings on this web site with more photos of Edna, and more publications based upon the Hill family's archives. The revenue produced helps support the web expenses of the two Edna web sites, plus provides a little bit of cash for travel and research expenses.

Here's to the fans who have supported Edna all along! We hope our effort has been worthy of your wait. We couldn't have done any of this without you. Many thanks!

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