Papers of Chili Bouchier

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive consists of working, personal and family papers including correspondence, printed material, photographs and other material; textile and other objects; audio-visual material.

Administrative / Biographical History

Dorothy Hill (1909-1999), otherwise known as Chili Bouchier, actress, was born in Fulham 12 Sep 1909. Her parents were Alice and Frank Boucher and Chili was one of four children, her siblings being Jack, Hilda and Irene. Chili's first public appearances were performing in shows put on by Madam Cleaver Lee's School of Ballet (1920-1922). Her first position was working at Harrods Department store where she was paid fifteen shillings a week to model clothes from the Ladies Wear Collections. It was whilst working at Harrods that she acquired the nickname of Chili as one colleague thought she resembled a singer who sang a popular song - My Chili, Chili, Bom Bom. When Chili was dismissed from Harrods for a minor indiscretion, she started a course to learn how to become a film star. Chili was soon selected to appear in a series of short sound pictures made by Phonofilms at Clapham studios, London in 1927. Her career was established when she appeared as a bathing beauty in 'Shooting Stars' in 1927. In Sep 1929 she married fellow actor Harry Milton (1900-1965), whom she had met on set whilst filming 'Chick', they eventually divorced in 1937. Her first 'talkie' was 'The Call of the Sea', shown in 1930. In 1931 Chili Bouchier was involved in the remake of 'Carnival', a film which had been instrumental in encouraging her to enter the film industry. Whilst under contract to British and Dominions Studios, Chili Bouchier was loaned to Paramount based at Elstree Studios. During 1934 Chili reverted to using her original name Dorothy but changed back to using Chili due to demand from her fans in 1935. In 1935, Chili Bouchier signed to Warner Brothers at Teddington Studios. The success of the Warner Brothers film 'Gypsy' culminated in Chili receiving a personal visit from Jack and Harry Warner who invited her to Hollywood to make some films there. Unfortunately, Chili Bouchier did not settle and returned to England in 1938 while still under contract to Warner Brothers. They did not renew her contract six months later. Having received no offer of any other film contract, Chili Bouchier turned her attention to the theatre and formed her own repertory company, The Chili Bouchier Players, in 1939. Edmund John Cuthbertson, otherwise known as Teddy Joyce, was Chili's next love and fiancé. The Canadian born bandleader, whom she had first met in 1935, died suddenly in 1941, after suffering from cerebro-spinal fever. During the Second World War, Chili went to Alexandria and Cairo where she performed in various plays staged by the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA). In 1946 Chili Bouchier married Peter de Greef, a fellow actor she had met a few years previously. They separated a few months later, divorcing in 1955. Chili Bouchier spent most of her career during this time in the theatre. After her separation from Peter de Greef, Chili Bouchier moved into a flat in Dolphin Square, (Pimlico, London) where she met an old friend again, Bluey Hill, who also lived at Dolphin Square. Bluey Hill was an Australian film director, with whom she lived for twenty-three years. They eventually married on 1 Apr 1977. Chili Bouchier continued working during the sixties and seventies, appearing in 'The Mousetrap' in 1971 and 1974 and in 'Harvey' with James Stewart in 1975. Incidentally, James Stewart appeared in one of Chili's all time favourite films, the Glen Miller Story. The other two favourites being Sunset Boulevard and Gone with the Wind (Copies of these films were owned by Chili and were regularly viewed). In 1995 Chili Bouchier appeared on television and radio as part of the celebrations for the 'Centenary of Cinema'. She also appeared on 'Barrymore'. Chili died three days before her ninetieth birthday on 9 Sep 1999.

Arrangement

Most of the material had been arranged by the Estate into type, this arrangement has been adhered to.

Conditions Governing Access

Gift

This collection is partially available for research. The catalogued portion of the collection is available for research, uncatalogued material remains unavailable. One item is closed until 2019 and one item has restricted access. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Acquisition Information

Donated by the trustees of the estate of Dorothy Hill

Other Finding Aids

The Women's Library Catalogue