Virginia Martini; Actress in Silent Classic 'City Lights'

From Associated Press

Virginia Cherrill Martini, a former wife of Cary Grant whose acting debut came as a blind flower girl in Charlie Chaplin's silent classic "City Lights," has died. She was 88.

Martini died late Thursday at a hospital in Santa Barbara. She was in few movies after the 1931 classic and stopped acting after marrying Grant in 1933.

She met Grant at the premiere of "Blonde Venus," in which he had the lead. Their two-year marriage ended in divorce.

Born on a farm in Carthage, Ill., Virginia Cherrill was discovered by Chaplin at a boxing match in Los Angeles.

The famous "City Lights" scene in which Chaplin's little tramp meets the flower girl and falls in love with her was shot more than 300 times before Chaplin was satisfied.

Martini later married an English earl, divorcing him in 1946. She worked with the American Red Cross and other charities in England during World War II. It was there that she met Florian Martini, who became a decorated war ace.

The couple settled in Santa Barbara in 1950.

Martini is survived by her husband. Funeral services will be private.

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