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Charlie Chaplin's Battle In Court Changed Paternity Laws Forever

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Although having big pockets warrants plenty of perks, it can also make one an easy target for lawsuits and money scams.

Celebrities often tend to be victims of legal battles that end with ridiculous settlements, but one particular case involving the iconic Charlie Chaplin forever changed the face of family law in America.

In 1943, the legendary entertainer was slapped with a lawsuit by an up and coming actress named Joan Berry (also known as Joan Barry). In the years prior to the legal battle, Chaplin and Berry were involved in an affair after they met to discuss working together on a potential film called Shadows and Substance.


The pair spent time together in Manhattan but it wasn't long until things turned sour and Chaplin ended the relationship.

A few months later, she was arrested in Los Angeles for breaking into Chaplin's house and flourishing a gun. To make matters even more complicated, FBI reports revealed that Berry violated the Mann Act (White Slave Traffic Act) because she had previously "attended various parties with Chaplin and it is alleged that he made her available to other individuals for immoral purposes."

Although the affair only lasted for a few months, Berry, who was believed to be mentally unstable later testified that they were together longer and engaged in "four acts of sexual intercourse at or about the date when, in the ordinary course of nature, the child must have been begotten. These acts occurred on the 10th, 23d, 24th and 30th days of December, 1942."

Berry named Chaplin as the father of her daughter, Carol Ann, whom she birthed on October 2, 1943. The actor denied the paternity claims which prompted Berry to take matters to court and file a paternity suit.

Since the only method of determining paternity was through blood, Chaplin, Berry and the baby were subjected to blood tests.

Click on the next page to find out how the if Chaplin was the father and how the case impacted today's paternity laws.

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