Willkie in China

Friday, May 12, 2017 - 12:00pm to 3:00pm

Historical Documentary Film Screening presented by UCLA Richard C. Rudolph East Asian Library

In 1924, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, commonly known as FDR, sent Wendell Willkie, whom he had defeated in the 1940 Presidential election, on a 49-day goodwill and fact finding mission around the world, with stops in South America, Egypt, England, Iraq, the Soviet Union, and China. He flew in a converted B-24 Liberator aircraft, and left New York on August 26th. In China, he traveled to Chungking (now Chongqing), Lanchow (now Lanzhou), Sian (now Xi'an), and Chengtu (now Chengdu).

At a time when the Chinese people were exhausted after their resistance to the Japanese invasion for over ten years and their belief that the United States did not fully understand their plight, the visit was timely, to say the least. When he returned to the U.S., he wrote of his travels in "One World," which became a huge best-seller. He sold the films rights to Darryl Zanuck and 20th Century-Fox (Wilkie had become chairman of the board of Fox in 1942), and there was talk of Spencer Tracy portraying Willkie. Six months before his "One World" trip, Willkie spoke for 20 minutes as a special invited guest of the 14th Academy Awards on February 26, 1942. He came on after the Documentary Awards presentation and before the Short Subject Awards. He talked generally about the state of the country and the world, as well as the role of the film industry in the war (remember this was less than three months after Pearl Harbor). Dr. Hu Shih, China's ambassador to the United States, spoke at the Show as well.

Mr. Ed Carter, Documentary Curator of the Film Archive at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will have a presentation on the documentary film. Dr. Teresa Sun, professor emeritus of California State University, Long Beach, will talk on the historical context of the film. A Q&A session will follow and light lunch reception offered.

Please RSVP by Monday, May 8 to Hu Li at lihui@library.ucla.edu or 310.206.9606.

Willkie in China flyer with black and white photos of Willkie and event details