Star Archive

Chili Bouchier (1909 - 1999)

In the years before her death, Chili Bouchier billed herself as the last surviving star of British silent cinema. The claim is dubious since there were other survivors at the time, but in her day she certainly had more glamour and sex appeal than any of her contemporaries.

Despite her exotic image, Dorothy Boucher was born and raised in London. Though she was hooked on the movies at an early age, her first job was at Harrods in the packing department. Her workmates here gave her the nickname Chili. She was a finalist in a Daily Mirror beauty contest thanks to a picture her mother sent in. This helped her move into modelling and then into acting.

Her striking looks soon set her apart from her contemporaries and she worked steadily. She met her first husband Harry Milton on the set of Chick and was instantly smitten. They married in 1929. Regular stage work meant she made the transition to sound with ease.

When it was announced that Herbert Wilcox was remaking Carnival, Chili went for the lead since the original had made a big impression on her ten years earlier. She got the role and a long-term contract with Wilcox' British and Dominion studio. Wilcox changed her name back to Dorothy and changed her image from a Clara Bow flapper to a sleeker, more mysterious look.

Carnival was a success. She made a handful of films at British and Dominion but her relationship with Wilcox cooled when she made it clear she wouldn't sleep with him. He transferred his affections to his new discovery Anna Neagle and Chili asked for her contract to be terminated.

At around the same time as her career was being usurped by Neagle, her husband was being taken over by Jessie Matthews. Chili was soon being comforted by band leader Teddy Joyce. She continued her career in quota-quickies and was soon whisked off to Hollywood by Warner Brothers. This interlude proved even more disastrous than for most English actresses. After weeks of hanging around doing nothing, an attempted rape sent her fleeing back home.

By now her film career was in terminal decline. Teddy Joyce died after a sudden illness and Chili was made bankrupt. She toured with ENSA during the war and had another short-lived marriage with young actor Peter de Greef.

Following her second divorce, she formed a longer-lasting relationship with assistant director Bluey Hill. She kept busy in the theatre and spent two years in The Mousetrap. She also appeared in revivals of Follies, A Little Night Music and Jimmy Stewart's revival of Harvey.

After twenty-three years of living with Bluey she finally married him which got her some publicity. By now she was becoming an institution and was kept particularly busy during the celebrations for the centenary of cinema. She died a few weeks short of her ninetieth birthday.

Though she never had a decent part in a classic film, her reputation stands high with film buffs. She's one of the best examples of the sort of glamorous, sexy actress British cinema finds hard to cope with.

Chili Bouchier in CarnivalChili Bouchier in The King's CupStill of Chili Bouchier in Purse StringsCigarette card featuring Chili BouchierPublicity shot for Chili Bouchier


1927 Mumsie
1927 Dawn
1927 Maria Marten
1927 Shooting Stars
1927 A Woman in Pawn
1928 Chick
1928 Moulin Rouge
1928 Palais De Danse
1928 You Know What Sailors Are
1928 Warned Off
1928 The Silver King
1929 Downstream
1929 The City of Play
1930 The Call of the Sea
1930 Enter the Queen
1930 Kissing Cup's Race
1930 Brown Sugar
1931 Carnival
1931 The Blue Danube
1931 Ebb Tide
1932 The King's Cup
1933 Summer Lightning
1933 Purse Strings
1934 It's a Cop
1934 To Be a Lady
1934 The Office Wife
1935 Death Drives Through
1935 Royal Cavalcade
1935 The Mad Hatter
1935 Honours Easy
1935 Lucky Days
1935 Get off My Foot
1935 Mr Cohen Takes a Walk
1935 The Ghost Goes West
1936 Faithful
1936 Where's Sally?
1936 Southern Roses
1936 Gypsy
1936 Change for a Sovereign
1937 Mayfair Melody
1937 The Minstrel Boy
1937 The Dark Stairway
1937 Mr Satan
1938 The Return of Carol Deane
1938 Everything Happens to Me
1938 The Singing Cop
1939 The Mind of Mr Reeder
1941 My Wife's Family
1941 Facing the Music
1945 Murder in Reverse?
1946 The Laughing Lady
1947 Mrs Fitzherbert
1949 The Case of Charles Peace
1949 Old Mother Riley's New Venture
1952 The Wallet
1957 The Counterfeit Plan
1959 The Boy on the Bridge
1960 Dead Lucky

 Chili Bouchier at Amazon UK

 Chili Bouchier at Amazon US