Charles Champlin

Charles Davenport Champlin (March 23, 1926 – November 16, 2014) was an American film critic and writer.

Charles Champlin
Charles Davenport Champlin

(1926-03-23)March 23, 1926
DiedNovember 16, 2014(2014-11-16) (aged 88)
OccupationFilm critic

Life and career

Champlin was born in Hammondsport, New York. He attended high school in Camden, New York, working as a columnist for the Camden Advance-Journal and editor Florence Stone.[1] His family has been active in the wine industry in upstate New York since 1855. He served in the infantry in Europe in World War II and was awarded the Purple Heart and battle stars. He graduated from Harvard University in 1948 and joined LIFE magazine.

Champlin was a writer and correspondent for LIFE and TIME magazine for seventeen years, and was a member of the Overseas Press Club. He joined the Los Angeles Times as entertainment editor and columnist in 1965, was its principal film critic from 1967 to 1980, and wrote book reviews and a regular column titled "Critic at Large". He co-founded the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and has been a board member of the American Cinematheque.

Champlin's television career began in 1971 when he hosted Film Odyssey on PBS, introducing classic films and interviewing major directors. That same year, he hosted a live music series, Homewood, for KCET, the Los Angeles PBS station. For six years he co-hosted a public affairs program, Citywatchers, on KCET with columnist Art Seidenbaum. He has interviewed hundreds of film personalities, first on the Z Channel's On the Film Scene in Los Angeles, then with Champlin on Film on Bravo Cable.

Champlin taught film criticism at Loyola Marymount University from 1969 to 1985, was adjunct professor of film at USC from 1985 to 1996, and has also taught at UC Irvine and the AFI Conservatory. He has also written many books, including his biographies Back There where the Past Was (1989) and A Life in Writing (2006).

In 1992, he was a member of the jury at the 42nd Berlin International Film Festival[2] and served on the advisory board of the Los Angeles Student Film Institute.[3][4]

In his later years, since the late 1990s, Champlin had macular degeneration, and in 2001 wrote My Friend, You Are Legally Blind, a memoir about his struggle with the disease. He died on November 16, 2014, aged 88, suffering from Alzheimer's disease.[5]


  • The Flicks: Or, Whatever Became of Andy Hardy. 1977, ISBN 0-378-06164-X
  • The Movies Grow Up: 1940–1980. 1982, ISBN 0-8040-0363-7
  • George Lucas: The Creative Impulse. Lucasfilm's First Twenty Years. 1992, ISBN 0-8109-3564-3
  • John Frankenheimer. A Conversation With Charles Champlin. 1995, ISBN 1-880756-09-9
  • Hollywood's Revolutionary Decade: Charles Champlin Reviews the Movies of the 1970s. 1998, ISBN 1-880284-26-X
  • Back There Where the Past Was. A Small-Town Boyhood. 1999, ISBN 0-8156-0612-5 (Foreword by Ray Bradbury)
  • My Friend, You Are Legally Blind: A Writer's Struggle with Macular Degeneration. 2001, ISBN 1-880284-48-0
  • A Life in Writing. The Story of an American Journalist. 2006, ISBN 0-8156-0847-0


  1. A Life in Writing, Syracuse University Press
  2. "Berlinale: 1992 Juries". Retrieved 2011-03-27.
  3. Editor (June 10, 1994). National Student Film Institute/L.A: The Sixteenth Annual Los Angeles Student Film Festival. The Directors Guild Theatre. pp. 10–11.
  4. Editor (June 7, 1991). Los Angeles Student Film Institute: 13th Annual Student Film Festival. The Directors Guild Theatre. p. 3.
  5. "Charles Champlin dies at 88; former L.A. Times arts editor, critic". LA Times. Retrieved 2016-04-28.
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