Randy Otto Embodies One of the Greatest Leaders in History
by Cynde Cerf, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Chandler Center for the Arts
Randy Otto’s interest in Winston Churchill started in January 1965. He was 13 and his father, who had fought in the Pacific alongside the British during WWII, had everyone gather around the television for the funeral of Winston Churchill.
“It was the first time I had seen my dad cry,” says Otto. “My dad said to us, ‘There is the greatest man who ever lived.’”
Many years later, as an acting student in university, he took to mimicking his British History professor’s Churchill impression. Dr. Maxwell Schoenfeld caught him doing his impression one day in the hallway and pulled him into his office to tell him that he “may have something.” Schoenfeld became his mentor and encouraged him to use the gift he had to bring Churchill to life.
The dream of being an actor was put aside as life happened; Otto had a family and became a financial advisor. Occasionally, he would bring out his Churchill impression for the local Rotary Club or a fundraising event, but otherwise didn’t think of acting as a career until the day he took his family to see Hal Holbrook perform as Mark Twain.
“I had a pass to meet him backstage and I started to do my Churchill impression,” says Otto. “He turned to me and said, ‘You must be Mr. Churchill,’ as Mark Twain and then we proceeded to have a conversation as each of these historical figures. It was magical.”
It was then that Otto started to work on a script to play Churchill. He was both a financial advisor and an actor at this time. Holbrook offered his help and was a mentor until he passed away in 2020, telling Otto that it is about “telling the stories.”
Otto is the only person whose performance has been endorsed by the Churchill family. And, it is most likely the admiration that he has for Churchill that makes his performance shine.
“He was a hero, and the ideal of a leader to many,” says Otto. “He was a masterful wordsmith, witty, and had a demeanor that made others comfortable.”
“Winston Churchill told the truth when it wasn’t always convenient. That was how he became the glue that kept people together during WWII; he was admired for being straight and honest with the British people,” continues Otto.
Churchill was prolific with his words. Over his lifetime, he wrote 50 million words and 45 books. He is the most syndicated person in the world.
As Churchill, Otto will share his experiences from over the 90 years he was alive, his timeless leadership principles, and his observations on today’s issues. People will get the opportunity to engage and interact with a great historic figure as he breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to the audience.
“We’ve lived together so long, he is now an old friend,” says Otto. “It is an honor and something quite incredible to share Winston Churchill with others.”
Winston Churchill: Man of the Century will be at Chandler Center for the Arts on Sunday, January 16, 2022, with two performances at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Go to chandlercenter.org for tickets or call the box office at 480-782-2680.
Randy Otto put together a bibliography of recommended readings for those who want to read up before the performance. The complete list is below. See which ones you can check out at Chandler Public Library HERE.
BOOKS BY WINSTON CHURCHILL
- The Story of the Malakand Field Force
- The River War
- Lord Randolph Churchill
- Great Contemporaries
- My Early Life: A Roving Commission (READ FIRST)
- The World Crisis (5 Volumes) WWI
- Marlborough: His Life & Times (4 Vols - Churchill’s great ancestor John Churchill)
- The Second World War (6 Vols – WWII) Volume 1 is The Gathering Storm MUST READ
- Painting As A Pastime (READ THIRD)
- A History of the English Speaking Peoples
- The Dream
BOOKS ABOUT WINSTON CHURCHILL
- Churchill Speaks: Collected Speeches in Peace and War
- Winston & Clementine - Mary Soames
- Speaking For Themselves - Mary Soames, Eleanor Bron, Michael Jayston
- Anything - John Colville
- Churchill: His Paintings – Foreword by Mary Soames
- Anything - Martin Gilbert
- Churchill, A Biography – Roy Jenkins
- Churchill – Paul Johnson
- Anything - Richard Langworth
- The Churchill’s: A Family Portrait – Celia & John Lee
- The Last Lion – Vol I, Visions of Glory - Vol II, Alone - Vol III, Defender of the Realm – William Manchester (READ SECOND)
- Churchill - Andrew Roberts
- Franklin & Winston – Jon Meacham
- Hitler & Churchill, Secrets of Leadership – Andrew Roberts
- Troublesome Young Men (The rebels who brought Churchill to power and helped save England) – Lynne Olson
- Forty Ways To Look At Winston Churchill – Gretchen Rubin
- Hero of the Empire – Candace Millard
- Churchill: Wanted Dead or Alive – Celia Sandys (Granddaughter of Winston Churchill)
- Sir Winston Churchill: His Life & Times – Maxwell P. Schoenfeld
- Churchill Style: The Art of being Winston Churchill – Barry Singer (GREAT REFERENCE BOOK)
- Anything - Mary Soames (Daughter of WSC)
- The Splendid & The Vile – Erik Larson (READ FOURTH)
MOVIES ABOUT WINSTON CHURCHILL
- Darkest Hour – Gary Oldman
- The Gathering Storm – Albert Finney (HBO Movie)
- Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years – Robert Hardy (TV Mini-Series)