Chili Bouchier

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Chili Bouchier
Chili Bouchier publ.jpg
Publicity image from Who's Who on the Screen, 1938
Dorothy Irene Boucher

(1909-09-12)12 September 1909
Died9 September 1999(1999-09-09) (aged 89)
Other namesDorothy Bouchier
Years active1927–1960

Chili Bouchier (born Dorothy Irene Boucher; 12 September 1909 – 9 September 1999) [2] was an English film actress who achieved success during the silent film era, and went on to many screen appearances with the advent of sound films, before progressing to theatre later in her career.



Dorothy Irene Boucher was the daughter of an assessor for a painting and decorating firm. As a child, her initial ambition was to be a dancer and she enrolled at a ballet school. She made her first appearance as a child dancer at a charity performance. She became a typist on leaving school and later a model at Harrod's, where her brother worked. Her first appearance was as a bathing belle in Shooting Stars . Bouchier won a contest run by the Daily Mail in 1927 to become a film star.

In 1928, she appeared in a short film made in the DeForest Phonofilm sound-on-film process, Ain't She Sweet, with Dick Henderson. She was known as Britain's "It girl", and the answer to Clara Bow in Hollywood, who was famous for the tag.[ citation needed ]

She achieved success in the 1930s with the films Carnival (1931), directed by Herbert Wilcox and Gypsy (1937). The latter was made by the British arm of Warner Brothers at Teddington Studios, but, like a number of her films, is considered to be lost. She also played the supporting role of Cleopatra in The Ghost Goes West , starring Robert Donat. During this period, she was brought over to Warner Brothers in Hollywood but broke her contract after being kept hanging around. This reportedly caused her to be blackballed and unable to make another film. Hollywood film producer and business magnate Howard Hughes proposed to her, but Bouchier's great love was the bandleader Teddy Joyce, to whom she was engaged before his premature death. [3]

Despite this setback, she continued to appear in British films until 1960, albeit often in supporting roles in B-movies. Among her later films were Murder in Reverse? (1945), a successful thriller starring William Hartnell, and Old Mother Riley's New Venture (1949), part of the successful series of Old Mother Riley comedy films.

Bouchier combined her film career with a great deal of stage work in the UK. From 1950, onwards most of her appearances were on stage in dramas, comedies and revues, where she continued to work until well into her eighties.


In September 1929, she married the actor Harry Milton (1900-1965) whom she had met on set while filming Chick. The marriage was dissolved in 1937. [4] She married 23 year-old actor Peter De Greef in 1946 at Kensington in London. [5] They separated a few months later and the marriage was finally dissolved in 1955.[ citation needed ]

Later years

In 1996, Bouchier published her autobiography, Shooting Star, and received some media attention: she was a guest on the BBC Radio 4 series Desert Island Discs in January, [3] and was the subject of This Is Your Life in February, when she was surprised by Michael Aspel at a book signing session at Harrods. Featured guests were Patricia Roc, Sian Phillips, Peggy Mount, Avril Angers, Lionel Blair, Mary Millar, Dorothy Tutin, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Leslie Ash and Petula Clark.[ citation needed ]


Bouchier died three days short of her ninetieth birthday in her ground floor flat in Marylebone, London following a serious fall.

Her agent, Vincent Shaw, said of her after her death, "She was one of the last of the great pre-war beauties - a fabulous trouper and a lovely lady." Author Michael Thornton, a close friend, said: "Her life was a rollercoaster. She had known great wealth and acclaim, but sadly died alone in virtual poverty in a tiny council flat supported financially by theatrical charities. John Paul Getty was marvellous to her, and always had a crate of champagne delivered to her flat on every birthday. He will be sad to hear of her death." [6]

Selected filmography

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  1. Bergan, Ronald (13 September 1999). "Chili Bouchier". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  2. "Chili Bouchier". BFI. Archived from the original on 14 January 2009.
  3. 1 2 "BBC Radio 4 - Desert Island Discs, Chili Bouchier". BBC. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  4. Papers of Chili Bouchier: Women's Library Archives, Accessed 20 November 2022.
  5. Edward Denaston Marriage Certificate of William De Greeff and Dorothy Irene Milton (1946): Accessed 20 November 2022. (subscription required)
  6. "British screen siren dies" . Retrieved 20 November 2022.