An excerpt from LITTLE ELF: A Celebration of Harry Langdon by Chuck Harter & Michael Hayde
Niagara Falls Gazette (February 13, 1934)
On December 1, a story broke that Helen Langdon, according to her friends, was about to file for divorce from Harry. The friends were mistaken; she was merely petitioning the court for a judgement against him for overdue alimony and legal fees. Since their separation was granted on March 1, 1932, Langdon had paid only $671.43 in alimony, plus $250 toward the $2,500 her lawyers had charged. Nevertheless, as 1933 drew to a close, Langdon decided to give himself a Christmas present, and initiated a quickie Mexican divorce from Helen, which would free him to marry Mabel.
On February 1, 1934, Justice Frederick P. Close awarded Helen a judgment amounting $21,078.57, the full amount due. One week later, Rose filed suit for $64,717.47 that Langdon owed her. She would be granted a judgment for $66,424, which presumably included her own court costs. Langdon responded to both actions by doing nothing.
The Mexican divorce was finalized around the time Petting Preferred, the fifth short of the series, had wrapped, and on February 12, he and Mabel, accompanied by William Gill and Janice Snoden, drove across the border to pick up the papers. Mabel recalled, “The four of us drove ‘way down into the hinterlands of Mexico, to some little small town. And he picked up his divorce papers.”
“Now this was over by the Arizona border. So he said, ‘Well, why don’t we go over to Arizona? Let’s get married, Mabel! Let’s get married in Arizona!’ This took me off my guard! So I said, ‘Sure!'”
At Trinity Presbyterian Church in Tucson that evening, Reverend Karl P. Buswell looked over the divorce papers, declared them valid, and married Harry and Mabel; Gill and Snoden serving as witnesses. Once word got around, the press descended upon them as they dined in a local restaurant. Feeling puckish, Langdon told reporters he found Mabel “out here on the prairie behind one of these cacti.”
The newlyweds returned to Hollywood on the 16th, to be greeted by the local columnists. He referred to his bride as “the girl of my dreams,” and affirmed, “Contentment means much more to me now than money. I’ve seen all the Hollywood parties and nightlife that I want to see. What I want now is a fireplace, a wife and my police dog.”