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Champlin, Charles (Davenport) 1926-

CHAMPLIN, Charles (Davenport) 1926-

PERSONAL: Born March 23, 1926, in New York, NY; son of Francis Malburn (a wine chemist) and Katherine (a bank teller; maiden name, Masson) Champlin; married Margaret Frances Derby (a librarian), September 11, 1948; children: Charles, Katherine, John, Judith, Susan, Nancy. Education: Harvard University, B.A. (cum laude), 1947. Politics: Democrat. Hobbies and other interests: Music, reading.

ADDRESSES: Home—2169 Linda Flora Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90077-1408. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Time, Inc., New York, NY, writer and correspondent for Life in New York, NY, 1948-65, Chicago, IL, 1949-52, Denver, CO, 1952-54, assistant editor in New York, NY, 1954-59, writer and correspondent for Time in Los Angeles, CA, 1959-62, and London, England, 1962-65; Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, CA, arts editor, 1965-91, film critic, 1967-80, author of column "Critic at Large," appearing in about three hundred fifty newspapers all over the world, 1965-91, book critic, 1981-91. Adjunct lecturer at Loyola Marymount University, Los, Angeles, CA, 1969-85; University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, adjunct associate professor, 1985-96; lecturer at other colleges and universities. Host of "Homewood" series and "Film Odyssey," both for Public Broadcasting Service, host of "Citywatchers" for KEET-Television, and host of "Champlin on Film" for Bravo Cable. Served on the board of directors of American Cinematheque and advisory board of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Military service: U.S. Army, Infantry, 1944-46; served in European theater; became corporal; received Purple Heart, three battle stars, and combat infantryman's badge.

MEMBER: PEN West, Overseas Press Club, National Society of Film Critics, National Society of Journalists, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Harvard Club of Southern California (member of board of directors, 1972—).

AWARDS, HONORS: Order of Arts and Letters, France, 1977, for his contributions to film; Directors Guild, honorary life member.

WRITINGS:

(With Charles Sava) How to Swim Well, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1960.

The Flicks: Or, Whatever Became of Andy Hardy, Wollstonecraft (Los Angeles, CA), 1975, revised edition published as The Movies Grow Up, 1940-1980, Swallow Press (Chicago, IL), 1981.

Back There where the Past Was: A Small-Town Boyhood, foreword by Ray Bradbury, Syracuse University Press (Syracuse, NY), 1989.

(Contributor) A Day in the Life of Hollywood: As Seen by 75 of the World's Leading Photographers on One Day, May 20, 1992, Collins (San Francisco, CA), 1992.

George Lucas: The Creative Impulse: Lucasfilm's First Twenty Years, H. N. Abrams (New York, NY), 1992.

(With Joseph M. Champlin) The Visionary Leader: How Anyone Can Learn to Lead Better, Crossroad (New York, NY), 1993.

(Contributor) Woody Allen at Work: The Photographs of Brian Hamill, H. N. Abrams (New York, NY), 1995.

John Frankenheimer: A Conversation with Charles Champlin, Riverwood Press (Burbank, CA), 1995.

Hollywood's Revolutionary Decade: Charles Champlin Reviews the Movies of the 1970s, John Daniel (Santa Barbara, CA), 1998.

(Editor and author of introduction) William E. Doherty, Tony's World: The Recollections of a Pilot, a Sailor, an Ice-Boater, a Skier, a Bobsledder, a Winemaker, a Museum Director—and a Natural Storyteller, Fithian Press (Santa Barbara, CA), 1999.

(With others) Mitchum: In His Own Words, edited by Jerry Roberts, foreword by Roger Ebert, Limelight Editions (New York, NY), 2000.

"My Friend, You Are Legally Blind": A Writer's Struggle with Macular Degeneration, John Daniel (Santa Barbara, CA), 2001.

Works represented in anthologies, including Cinema 72/73, edited by David Denby, Bobbs-Merrill (Chicago, IL,) 1973; Cinema 73/74, edited by David Denby and Jay Cocks, Bobbs-Merrill (Chicago, IL), 1974; Focus on Orson Welles, edited by Ronald Gottesman, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1976; Movie Comedy, edited by Stuart Byron and Elisabeth Weiss, Viking (New York, NY), 1977.

Contributor of numerous articles to magazines, including Saturday Review, McCall's, New Society, and Millimeter.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Back Where the Future Began, continuation of memoir, for Syracuse Press; essays in film criticism.

SIDELIGHTS: Charles Champlin is recognized for his contributions as a journalist and media critic for major magazines and newspapers during a career that has spanned over five decades. He has also published a number of books about film history, and actors and producers, including Woody Allen, George Lucas, and Robert Mitchum, and collections of his previously published movie reviews. In addition, Champlin hosted film-related shows for public television and taught at several universities. After retiring from full-time newspaper work in the early 1990s, he continued to write on the media. Even after macular degeneration blinded him in 1999, Champlin, ever the writer, published "My Friend, You Are Legally Blind": A Writer's Struggle with Macular Degeneration.

Like many children who later become writers, Champlin was a precocious reader, as he once recalled to CA: "I had a reading mother and I learned to read at her shoulder even before I entered kindergarten. Soon after I learned to read, I wanted to write and the urge to write, the compulsion really, never left me." Champlin "read the New Yorker at an early age," and he continued, "many of my mentors in absentia, so to speak, appeared there: E. B. White, Wolcott Gibbs, Thurber, John O'Hara, John Cheever and Irwin Shaw. I also read John P. Marquand, too little heard of, and Somerset Maugham for their seemingly effortless styles."

In his memoir Back There where the Past Was, Champlin tells of growing up during the Great Depression in the 1,200-person hamlet of Hammondsport, New York: "Violating all the traditions of small-town writers-to-be, I was never frenzied with impatience to be away or to experience life as it truly was in the city." Indeed, in what Genevieve Stuttaford of Publishers Weekly called a "generous" and "realistic" depiction of his home town, Champlin describes such unassuming places as the gas station hangout, the local church, and the porches on which sat men in gray, and he wrote about his parents' divorce and the poverty that came with the times. As Library Journal contributor Boyd Childress commented, the memoir is "full of humor and revealing confessions." Though fond of his home town, Champlin left at age sixteen to serve in the U.S. Army infantry. After his stint, Champlin enrolled at Harvard University, where he came under the influence of Kenneth Payson Kempton and Carvel Collins, who were, Champlin said, "the first to persuade me I might just be able to make it as a professional writer." After earning his A.B. degree, he embarked on a writing career for Time-Life. "My postgraduate education was really from Joseph Kastner, the tough but sympathetic copy chief at Life," he said. After working for five years as a Life correspondent in Los Angeles, California, Champlin jumped to the Los Angeles Times, where for some twenty-five years he worked as an arts editor and film and book critic. With such a vocation, it was natural that the majority of Champlin's books should revolve around motion pictures. In The Flicks, expanded and republished as The Movies Grow Up, 1940-1980, Champlin explores the impact of television on motion pictures. Hollywood's Revolutionary Decade: Charles Champlin Reviews the Movies of the 1970s is a compilation of the critic's previously published reviews, which Library Journal contributor Kim R. Holston described as a "thought-provoking work." Champlin's other books have focused on famous individuals in show business, such as George Lucas, Woody Allen, John Frankenheimer, and Robert Mitchum.

George Lucas: The Creative Impulse came about as a result of serendipity. When one of Champlin's daughters ran into Lucas in a Mexican restaurant, it gave Lucas the impetus to call Champlin. "I guess he had been wanting to do a book like this for a while but didn't know who to ask," Champlin told Boston Herald writer Stephen Schaefer. "The next day he called me to do it." A 1992 coffee table book with many photographs, George Lucas celebrates the more than thirty feature and television movies Lucas directed or produced, including the phenomenally successful "Star Wars" motion pictures. The success of the first edition, with its "tremendous browse appeal," to quote Library Journal writer Michael Rogers, was followed by a revised edition published five years later.

During the 1990s, Champlin's eyesight began to deteriorate, forcing him away from the daily writing of criticism. He focused instead on writing books and teaching at the University of California. As he once told CA: "In 1999, macular degeneration left me no longer able to read a book or to drive a car. Those are severe deprivations, but I have been able to continue writing, using my old skill as a touch typist (everyone should learn how) and learning to dictate. Thurber, going blind, said he didn't mind being unable to draw, but if he could not write he would suffocate. I feel the same way, and I can still breathe."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

periodicals

Booklist, May 15, 1989, review of Back There where the Past Was: A Small-Town Boyhood, p. 1603; July, 2001, William Beatty, review of "My Friend, You Are Legally Blind": A Writer's Struggle with Macular Degeneration, p. 1964.

Book Report, September, 1993, James Gross, review of George Lucas: The Creative Impulse: Lucasfilm's First Twenty Years, p. 52.

Bookwatch, October, 2001, review of "My Friend, You Are Legally Blind," p. 1.

Boston Herald, November 28, 1997, Stephen Schaefer, "Filmmaker Lucas Gets Star Treatment," review of George Lucas, p. 8.

Film Quarterly, summer, 1982, reviews of The Movies Grow Up, 1940-1980, pp. 53, 61.

Library Journal, April 1, 1989, Boyd Childress, review of Back There where the Past Was, p. 95; September 15, 1992, review of George Lucas, p. 38; October 1, 1992, Michael Rogers, review of George Lucas, p. 88; February 1, 1998, Kim R. Holston, review of Hollywood's Revolutionary Decade: Charles Champlin Reviews the Movies of the 1970s, pp. 87-88.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, June 18, 1989, review of Back There where the Past Was, p. 3.

New York Times Book Review, September 17, 1989, Elizabeth Hanson, review of Back There where the Past Was, p. 25.

Publishers Weekly, April 14, 1989, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Back There where the Past Was, p. 60; September 21, 1992, review of George Lucas, p. 88; June 11, 2001, review of "My Friend, You Are Legally Blind," p. 78.

Reference & Research Book News, August, 1993, review of George Lucas, p. 37.

Variety, November 16, 1992, Susan Shapiro, review of George Lucas, p. 80.

Washington Post Book World, July 9, 1989, review of Back There where the Past Was, p. 11.

West Coast Review of Books, Volume 12, number 4, 1986, review of The Flicks: Or, Whatever Became of Andy Hardy, p. 14; Volume 15, number 2, 1989, review of Back There Where the Past Was, p. 40.

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