Willkie in China

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

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

In 1942 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sent Wendell Willkie, whom he had defeated in the 1940 presidential election, on a goodwill and fact-finding mission around the world, with stops in South America, Egypt, England, Iraq, the Soviet Union, and China. 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 more than ten years and their belief that the United States did not fully understand their plight, the visit was timely. When Wilkie 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, of which he had become chairman of the board in 1942, and there was talk of Spencer Tracy portraying him.

Six months before his trip, Willkie spoke as a special invited guest at the 14th Academy Awards on February 26, 1942, held three months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He talked generally about the state of the country and of the world as well as about the role of the film industry in the war. Dr. Hu Shih, China's ambassador to the United States, also spoke at the ceremony.

Ed Carter, documentary curator of the Film Archive at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will give a presentation about the documentary footage. Dr. Teresa Sun, professor emeritus at California State University, Long Beach, will talk about the film's historical context of the film. A Q&A session will follow, and a light lunch reception will be 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