Charles Champlin, longtime film writer and editor for the Los Angeles Times, died Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 88 and died from complications of Alzheimer’s Disease, according to the L.A. Times.
Champlin graduated from Harvard and worked for Life and Time magazines before starting at the L.A. Times as entertainment editor and columnist in 1965. He was the main film critic from 1967 to 1980, during a time which saw the creation of the movie ratings system was instituted, the groundbreaking movies of the 1970s, and during which directors such as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese first made their mark.
He later covered books and arts before retiring in 1991 but continued to contribute to the Times as well as to Variety. In 1975, he c0-founded the Los Angeles Film Critics Association with Ruth Batchelor and served as its president for many years.
Though he was known as a “kind” critic who was unwilling to slam movies, he was eager to point out that he also gave negative reviews when warranted. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007.
Born in Hammondsport, N.Y., Champlin served in the army during WWII, then returned to Harvard after being wounded.
Champlin appeared on several TV shows about film and the arts on KNBC, Z Channel, Bravo and KCET, and published several books including one on George Lucas. He began going blind from macular degeneration in 1997 but continued to write.
A 1979 article by the L.A. Times’ David Shaw investigated why the paper failed to adequately cover the David Begelman embezzlement scandal, which was only covered minimally at first except for a positive article by Champlin. The Begelman coverage contributed to the perception that the paper was perhaps too cozy with its hometown industry.
Champlin is survived by his wife of 66 years, Peggy; four daughters, two sons, a half-sister, 13 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
On Tuesday, Directors Guild of America president Paris Barclay issued the following statement about his death: “Charles Champlin devoted a lifetime to reviewing and critiquing our work, sharing invaluable insights into the world of filmmaking with moviegoers and fans. As a teacher, critic and author, Charles brought his views on cinema into our homes through his books, television shows, interviews and articles; contributing even to our DGA publications. For Charles’ dedication and service to the craft, he was awarded an Honorary Life Member Award by the DGA in 1992. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”