I suppose that using his correct name would immediately answer the
title’s question and negate the rest of this Tidbit. So… in the
interests of secrecy… I shall call him by his father’s middle name:
Churchill was born in Ashfield, MA in 1881. There isn’t a soul who’s
reading this who has not heard of him. Churchill’s father taught at
Columbia University and was a lay minister in the Episcopal church.
When his father died, Churchill’s mother turned the family home into
a girl’s school and then established a Play Company as an agency for
plays and playwrights. Churchill attended Pennsylvania Military
College and then the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
February 21, 1900. Churchill makes his stage debut as an actor in
"Hearts Are Trumps". He meets an actress named Constance Evans a
marries her and has four children. One biological child… three
adopted. He co-writes a play entitled: “The Royal Mounted”. He
writes several one-act operettas together with Jesse L. Lasky. A
lifelong friendship develops.
Theatrical prospects are weak. Together with Lasky and others,
Churchill produces a feature length motion picture entitled: “The
Squaw Man”. It comes out in 1914 and is a huge success. He is named
Director General of this new company. He develops a reputation as one
of the finest directors in the business. He produces Carmen, The
Cheat, and The Golden Chance. Lasky and Churchill join forces with
Adolph Zuckor. A new distribution company is formed. It is called
Churchill expands his business interests. He establishes a
commercial airline service. It is called Mercury Aviation. He sits
on the board of the Bank of Italy and establishes the bank’s
relationship with the motion picture industry. The bank is later
renamed to the Bank of America.
Churchill produces his first extravaganza. It is a silent
film… it goes over-budget… the studio does not renew Churchill’s
The Great Depression. Churchill is in disfavor with M-G-M. He
has no job. He is facing the prospect of being completely broke. He
works out a deal with Paramount for one more film. Paramount will
put up half the money … Churchill will somehow find a way to put up
the other half. The Sign Of The Cross comes out. It is a hit.
Churchill remains with Paramount for the rest of his career.
He signs with Lux Radio Theatre on CBS. His appearances on the
air make him a household name. He stays with Lux for nine years…
and then quits over a squabble for a one dollar assessment which he
challenges in court and loses. There’s a lesson to be learned here.
Nothing will put you in the poor house faster than principle.
And then came 1950… and dissention presided over President
Truman’s loyalty oath… which Churchill supported. More
dissention… more division… and Churchill once again found
himself in disfavor with the movie moguls.
And then came 1954… and once again Churchill rose to his
controversial position… and hired some actors who had been
blacklisted by McCarthy … among them Edward G. Robinson who
subsequently credited Churchill for having saved his career.
And now for the big big and even rather huge hint. Churchill made
some of the most famous films ever to come out of Hollywood. I’ll
tell you of one which is perhaps a bit more obscure than the others.
It was called “The Buccaneer” the direction of which he left to his
son-in-law Anthony Quinn who was married to his daughter.
So… who is he? Email me… tell me what you think… and I’ll tell
you if you’re right or wrong and I’ll even tell you his name…and
his most famous film… which I’ll also mention in next week’s
As to jewelry… well… I have this pair of frosted rock crystal
cufflinks that belonged to him. Value: I would have to guess around
$150.00. In this case… the man is; more interesting than his
jewelry. But to stay in theme…