January 14, 2018


In September 1929, Winston Churchill made his one and only visit to Los Angeles as part of a grand tour of North America in the company of his son Randolph, brother Jack, and nephew Johnnie. His visit coincided with the period when the motion picture industry was making the transition from silent film to “talkies.” On the 24th, Charlie Chaplin hosted the Churchills at his Hollywood studio located on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and La Brea Avenue.

At the studio, it was Chaplin’s habit to entertain the visitors by filming them, a practice that he continued with the Churchills. Clips shot of these visitors were so distinctly uneventful that the actor probably could not help himself and started to perform. The video published by Chaplin Films can be viewed HERE.

Randolph Churchill thought the actor was a wonderful host and wrote that he was “too sweet for words.” After first lunching together, Chaplin took his visitors on a tour of the studio where he was working on his silent classic City Lights. He even performed a piano recital and sang English ballads for the entertainment of his fellow Englishmen, as well as acted his new film for them. After showing them around, Chaplin provided a private screening of his 1918 picture Shoulder Arms, one of his great movies, followed by the rushes for City Lights.

You can read more about Churchill’s visit to Hollywood and his relationship with Chaplin in the forthcoming issue of Finest Hour, themed “Churchill at the Movies.”

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Text extracted from Churchill in North America, 1929 by Bradley Tolppanen (McFarland, 2014) and reprinted with permission.

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