On This Day September 19, 1959: Nikita Khrushchev Meets his Match in Hollywood


Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev arrived in Los Angeles on September 19, 1959 during a two-week trip to the United States during the height of the Cold War. In one of the biggest diplomatic coups in history, a Greek immigrant named Spyros Skouras convinced the Soviets to let him show Khrushchev the lighter side of America.

Skouras, president of Fox Films organized a studio tour and lunch for the Soviet premier and exchanged barbs back and forth while addressing each other during speeches.

Short, stocky and bald, Skouras, 66, had a gravelly voice and a thick accent. “He had this terrible Greek accent—like a Saturday Night Live put-on,” recalled Chalmers Roberts, who covered Khrushchev’s U.S. tour for the Washington Post.

“Everybody was laughing.” Khrushchev listened to Skouras for a while, then turned to his interpreter and whispered, “Why interpret for me? He needs it more.”

Read more about Khrushchev’s day in Hollywood here.


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