In 1886, the French actress Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), the first international stage star, played chess against the chess automaton Ajeeb. She loved chess and lived at the Hotel Chelsea from 1886 to 1900. Ajeeb was located at the Eden Musee, a block away from her hotel. She also played Ajeeb in 1900 and perhaps many times between 1886 and 1900 (losing every time). When asked how she spent her time on long sea voyages, she said she played chess. (source: "Sarah Bernhardt" by Jules Huret, p. 132, patrickgrenier.net/blog.html, Chess Life, Jun 1992, p. 12, and British Chess Magazine, 1979, p. 302)
In 1912, "A Game of Chess" silent film was released. The action takes place around a chess game being played by two very old men. One of the old fellows is the father of a delightful daughter, and she is in love with the handsome son of the other old man. However, at a close point in the game the fathers quarrel bitterly and sever their friendly relations. The young folks appearing then, each take the part of their father and the engagement is broken off. The young man wheels his father away in his invalid chair while the girl remains by her father as weeps. Both old men fall asleep. The young couple have a change of heart. They place the chair in its former position and rearrange the chessmen in about the same positions they occupied before the quarrel. The old men wake up and go on playing chess, each believing that the previous events had been nothing but a dream. (source: Moving Picture World, Aug 10, 1912, p. 552)
On January 14, 1915, a two reel film called "Pawns of Fate" was released. Frank Marston (played by Frank Lloyd) and his daughter Helen (played by Helen Leslie) start a game of chess while waiting for her fiancée to come to take her to a party. After they leave, Frank looks at the chessmen and sees the black knight change into himself, the white queen into Anita, a Mexican girl (played by Gretchen Lederer), and a white knight into a man called Marc Bailey (Marc Robbins). A gunfight is started and Anita is shot. The scene fades back into the library. The black knight has disappeared and the white queen lies prostate on chess board. (source: Motography, Jan 16, 1915, p. 109)
One of the first Hollywood silent film to depict a chess scene (chess board and pieces placed on a table) may have been "A Fool There Was," filmed in 1915, directed by Frank Powell and starring Theda Bara (1885-1955) as the Vamp, one of the first sex symbols of the early 20th century.
In 1915, a film was made at the Manhattan Chess Club covering the opening of a masters tournament. Jose Capablanca and Frank Marshall appear in the film. (source: Motography, May 8, 1915, p. 752)
On May 1915, a film was released by the Edison Company called "His Peasant Princess." The king of Steinfeldt and the king of Rodenkurst quarrel over a game of chess, and for years the kings are on anything but friendly terms. The barons of both kingdoms try to effect a reconciliation by suggesting the marriage of Karl of Rodenkurst to the Princess of Steinfeldt. However, Karl is in love with a beer maid near his school and refuses to meet the princess. He turns his back when the princess enters, and she greets him with "Will you have a stein of beer?" It turns out the princess, to escape the public, worked as a bar maid. The lovers become married and peace is restored in the two kingdoms. (source: Motography, May 15, 1915, p. 802)
By 1918, silent actor Charles Ray (1891-1943) starred in over a dozen silent movies. He usually portrayed young, wholesome country boy in silent comedy films. He was a great chess fan and often sat by himself figuring out chess moves. (source: Film Fun, Jul 1917)
In 1918, the film "Summer Girls" was released. A poster for the movie show a couple playing chess with a tagline that says "What's the Answer, Chess or No!" (source: Chess Amateur, Oct 1919, p. 11)
In 1921, Richard Schayer (1880-1956) was described as the chess champion of motion pictures. In March 1933, he became the new president of the Hollywood Chess Club (renamed the Hollywood Chess and Bridge Club), which moved to the 6735 Yucca Street in Hollywood. Schayer was a screenwriter who wrote over 100 films between 1916 and 1956. He wrote some chess scenes into a few of his scripts, such as The Black Cat, with Boris Karloff playing chess with Bela Lagosi. Schayer was once considered the strongest chess player in Hollywood. He believed that next to newspaper work, chess is the best mental training for script writing, and that it is unequaled as a pastime for keeping veteran writers like himself from getting "stale." (source: Los Angeles Herald, Mar 28, 1921)
In 1921, "The Affairs of Anatol" was released. Gloria Swanson (1899-1983) and Elliot Dexter (1870-1941) play chess with large chess pieces. Reviewers, seeing the large chess pieces, were reminded that chess was coming in vogue again. Chess was becoming a high class parlor entertainment. (source: Exhibitors Herald, Jul 2, 1921, p. 47)
In June 1921, Sammy Reshevsky (known as Rzeschewski at the time) (1911-1992), age 9, gave a 20-board simul at the Los Angeles Athletic Club and met several Hollywood stars such as Charlie Chaplin (1899-1977) and 5-year-old Jackie Coogan (1914-1984) at the simul. Coogan and Reshevsky were wearing boxing gloves for a publicity photo when Coogan punched Reshevsky in the face, giving him a black eye. The only person to beat Reshevsky in the 20-board simul was Dr. Robert B. Griffith (1876-1937), a physician for the film industry in Hollywood.
In August 1921, the silent version of "The Three Musketeers," starring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. (1883-1939) was one of the first films to use chess as a crucial part of the narrative in the film.
In 1923, the child actor Jackie Coogan (1914-1984) received some chess coaching from Sammy Reshevsky (Rzeszewski). (source: Visual Education, Feb 1923, p. 61) Coogan played chess in the 1923 fildm "Daddy." Later, Coogan played chess with John Astin during the filming of the TV series "Addams Family."
In 1925, the American silent movie "A Thief in Paradise" was made. Actor Claude Gillingwater (1870-1939) plays Noel Jardine, a crusty old Englishman. Alex Francis (1867-1934) plays Bishop Saville. Jardine and the Bishop are old cronies, who spend many an evening over the chess board. The Bishop loves rousing his friend's fiery temper by trying to help himself to an extra move in chess, but he never gets away with it. The film is considered a lost film. (source: Motion Picture Magazine, Mar 1925, p. 59)
To commemorate the 11th Anniversary of the Russia Workers's Revolution, the Communist Party of Great Britain screened a film depicting the British Workers' Delegation to the USSR in November, 1927. The film revealed sociological as well as economical aspects of the USSR, including a workers' club where men play chess. (source: Close Up, Dec 1928, p. 64)
In the 1920s, actress Doris Kenyon (1897-1979) starred in several silent films, and starred opposite of Rudolph Valentino. Her advice for insomniacs and what she practiced to get drowsy was getting a book on chess and playing out the moves. (source: Motion Picture Classic, Jun 1929, p. 29) In 1926, Kenyon married Milton Sills (1882-1930), who was a chess player.
Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957) is perhaps the most well known chess-playing actor. In 1929, after the stock market crashed, he hustled chess players for money in New York City parks and at Coney Island. He was known to have played chess and hustle in Times Square as late as 1933. In the 1942 movie, Casablanca, Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) played chess with Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains). All the chess playing scenes were his idea. He wanted a character that was a chess player that drank too much. There were some chess scenes of Bogart studying a chess game while Peter Lorre looked on, but these scenes did not make the final cut in the film. During the making of Casablanca, Bogart played several games with Paul Henreid (1908-1992), who played Victor Laszlo in Casablanca. According to Henreid, Bogart didn't win a single game from him. During World War II, Bogart played correspondence chess with several GIs overseas. One of his chess postcards to one of the troops sold for $2,500 in a recent Hollywood auction. In 1944, during the making of Passage to Marseille, Bogart played many of the actors and film crew during breaks. In the June-July 1945 issue of Chess Review, Bogart and his new wife, Lauren Bacall, appeared in the cover while Bogart played Charles Boyer a game of chess during a break in the making of The Confidential Agent. Bogart showed up on the set almost every lunch hour in the set to play Boyer a game of chess. In the 1949 movie, Knock on Any Door, attorney Andrew Morton (Humphrey Bogart) is playing chess with Susan Perry (Candy Toxton) and Mr. Elkins (Curt Conway). During breaks of his films, Bogart played a lot of chess with his make-up artist, Karl Silvera. In the early 1950s, Marlon Brando would drive over to Bogart's elegant mansion in Holmby Hills, and the two would play chess for hours. In the 1955 movie, The Left Hand of God, Jim Carmody/Father O'Shea (Humphrey Bogart) checkmates Dr. Dave Sigmond (E.G. Marshall). In 1956, Bogart, as Black, drew former U.S. chess champion Sammy Reshevsky in a 70 board simultaneous exhibition in Los Angeles. The game lasted 28 moves in a bishop and pawns vs knight and pawns endgame. A few years earlier, Bogart lost to George Koltanowski in a blindfold exhibition in San Francisco. When Bogart was dying of cancer, his only activity with friends was playing chess. His most common chess partner in his last days was screenwriter and film director Richard Brooks, who probably was Bogart's last chess opponent in late 1956.
In 1929, French actress Renee Adoree (1898-1933) played a chess game with Alexander Alekhine during his visit to Los Angeles in 1929.
On April 29, 1930, well-known screen author Richard Schayer organized the Beverly Hills Chess Club. In attendance was George Patterson of Hollywood, Southern California chess champion. (source: Hollywood Filmograph, May 17, 1930, p. 15)
In 1930, Vivienne Segal (1897-1992) was the reigning musical diva of her time. She was a chess player. She played chess with actor Allan Prior (1897-1949) between scenes in the film "Bride of the Regiment" while Walter Pidgeon (1897-1984) kibitzed. (source: Picture Play Magazine, May 1930, p. 91)
In 1930, Fred Niblo (1874-1948), Milton Sills (1882-1930), Warren Newcombe (1894-1960), Louis Wolheim (1880-1931), Zion Meyers (1898-1948), and F. Grandin were among the members of the Beverly Hills Chess Club, organized by Richard Schayer (1880-1956), MGM scenarist. (source: The Film Daily, Jun 2, 1930)
In 1930, Cecil B. DeMille (1881-1959) joined the Beverly Hills Chess Club and was elected to its board of directors. (source: The Gambit, July 1930, p. 189-190)
In the 1930s, actor Lew Ayres (1908-1996) was on the executive board of the Hollywood Chess Club, along with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. In the 1946 movie, The Dark Mirror, psychiatrist Scott Eliot (Lew Ayres) studies a chess position at home.
In the 1930s, actress Claire Dodd (1911-1973) was usually type-cast as the "other woman" and was known as Hollywood's "mystery girl." She looked a bit like Marlene Dietrich and imitated Greta Garbo. She said that her favorite indoor sport was chess. (source: Modern Screen, Apr 1933, p. 56)
In 1932, the actor George Brent (1904-1979) married actress Ruth Chatterton (1892-1961). They were married for two years. When they relaxed, they played chess against each other to see who could outwit the other. (source: Movie Classic, May 1933, p. 48 and Chess Review Apr 1940, p. 60)
On November 7, 1932, a new Hollywood Chess Club was opened at 5704 La Mirada Avenue, Hollywood. California State Champion Harry Borochow gave an 18-board simultaneous exhibition (winning 14, drawing 1, and losing 3). The president of the Hollywood Chess Club was Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (1909-2000). The executive board included Lew Ayres (1908-1996), screenwriter Richard Schayer (1880-1956), film director Ernest Laemmle (1900-1950), actor, director, and producer William Wyler (1902-1981), and film director and ediitor Slavko Vorkapich (1894-1976).
On December 17, 1932, Alexander Alekhine played against 26 boards at the new Hollywood Chess Club, winning them all. The next day, he then gave a 7-board simultaneous blindfold exhibition at the Hollywood Chess Club, winning 5 and drawing 2. The president of the Hollywood Chess Club was Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Herman Steiner later became the president of the Hollywood Chess Club. Members included Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Charles Boyer, and Jose Ferrer.
In February 1933, the Hollywood Chess Club sponsored a movie artists' concert to raise money for a new house project. The master of ceremonies was Neil Hamilton (1899-1984), best known for his role as Commissioner Gordon on the Batman TV series.
On April 11, 1933, Jose Capablanca, playing the white pieces, played a game of living chess against Herman Steiner at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. The game was pre-arranged by Capablanca, who checkmated Steiner in 25 moves. Cecil B. DeMille (1881-1959) presided as referee and announced the moves.
In the 1930s, Herman Steiner gave weekly chess lessons to several Hollywood stars and promising chess players. Jose Ferrer (1909-1992) took lessons from Steiner and remarked what a genius chess teacher Steiner was. Other chess students who took lessons from Steiner included Humphrey Bogart, Billy Wilder, Louis Hayward, Fritz Feld, Rosemary Clooney, Jim Cross and Jacqueline Piatigorsky.
In the 1930s, John Barrymore (1882-1942) was perhaps the strongest chess player in Hollywood, according to Fritz Feld. He played chess with Herman Steiner. John's older brother, Lionel Barrymore (1878-1954), was also a chess player. (source: Chess Life, Mar 1988, p. 32)
In the 1930s, comedian Harold Lloyd (1893-1971) listed chess as one of his hobbies. (source: Movie Classic, Feb 1936, p. 34)
In 1933, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (1909-2000) was the president of the new Hollywood Chess Club, and Lew Ayres (1908-1996) was one of its most enthusiastic members. (source: Modern Screen, Feb 1933, p. 79)
In 1933, a picture of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. shows him studying a chess position between the opening scenes of "The Narrow Corner." He is concocting some knotty chess problems for his Hollywood Chess Club. (source: Movie Classic, Apr 1933, p. 51)
In April 1933, actress Mae Clarke (1910-1992) played chess with Jose Capablanca on the MGM set during the making of "Turn Back the Clock."
In 1934, Florence Rice (1911-1974) had a chess scene with Neil Hamilton in "Fugitive Lady." She was an enthusiastic amateur chess player and took up the game after watching Owen and Frank Morgan play on a set. (source: Chess Review, Dec 1937, p. 291)
In 1935, Shirley Temple (1928-2014) had a chess scene of her throwing a chess set to the floor in "The Little Colonel." She played chess with Gary Cooper. (source: Chess Life, 1997, p. 163) As an adult, she was named United States ambassador to Ghana and to Czechoslovakia and played chess with the counselor of the Soviet embassy (source: Shirley Temple: American Princess, by Anne Edwards, 2017, p. 330)
In 1936, actor Dick Purcell (1908-1944) appeared in 11 films that year. In 1943, he starred as Captain America in the serial film. He listed chess as one of his indoor activities. (source: Silhouettes of Stars, 1937, p. 142)
In 1937, Errol Flynn (1909-1959) started playing chess in Hollywood. (source: CHESS, Nov 14, 1937, p. 79) In 1937, Bette Davis (1908-1989) learned chess during the filming of "Kid Galahad." Her husband, musician Harmon Oscar Nelson, was a chess addict. (source: Harrisburg PA Telegraph, Apr 2, 1937)
In 1937, Ray Milland (1907-1986) played correspondence chess with a friend in Vienna. At the time, Milland was considered the foremost chess player in Hollywood, followed by Franchot Tone (1905-1968). (source: Silver Screen, Sep 1937, p. 19) In 1966, Milland played chess with Norman Barrs (1917-1991) between scenes in the movie "Hostile Witness." (source: Chess Review, Jul 1966, p. 195)
In 1937, Billie Burke (1884-1970) appeared in the first of the Topper films. In 1938, she was chosen to play Glinda the Good Witch of the North in The Wizard of Oz. She played chess between screen characters. (source: Silver Screen, Oct 1937, p. 45)
In 1937, actor Cornel Wilde (1912-1989) married actress Patricia Knight (1915-2004). They divorced in 1951. They were both chess players. (source: Modern Screen, Aug 1947, p. 58)
In 1937, actress Betty Lou Gerson (1914-1999) married Joe Ainely. They divorced in 1965. She is best known as the original voice of Cruella de Vil in Disney's "One Hundred and One Dalmatians." Betty Lou admitted she couldn't cook or sew when she got married. She said, "But I'm a good chess player – and that's Joe's favorite game." Once a week was chess night at their home. (source: Radio and TV Mirror, Aug 1940, p. 73).
In 1937, actors Frank Morgan (Oz in Wizard of Oz) and Reginald Owen played chess against each other while Myrna Loy (1905-1993) watched and became interested in chess. (source: Chess Review, Oct 1937, p. 223) Frank Morgan later said that he learned chess in order to play it on trains while traveling with a dramatic company. He said that the game "brushed the cobwebs" from the brain, as the player forgets everything else for the time being, while playing. (source: Chess Review, Jan 1938, p. 2)
In 1938, Judy Garland (1922-1969) played chess between scenes of the filming of "Listen, Darling."
In 1939, Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000) played chess with her dramatic coach, Phyllis Loughton. (source: The Pittsburgh Press, Jul 7, 1939) She used to play chess with Man Ray, the American artist who was part of the whole Surrealist movement in Paris in the 1920s.
In the late 1930s, actor Charlton Heston (1923-2008) played chess on his high school chess team at New Trier High School in Chicago.
Nigel Bruce (1895-1953), who was best known for his portrayal of Dr. Watson, played chess. He was a member of the Hollywood Chess Group and the Herman Steiner Chess Club. He played in several Hollywood chess tournaments. In the 1940 movie, Susan and God, Hutchie (Nigel Bruce) plays chess with Amos (Sam Harris). In the 1943 movie, Sherlock Holmes Faces Death, Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) helps Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) solve a mystery by playing a living chess game from moves found in a family ritual.
In 1940, famous photographer, painter, and artist Man Ray (1890-1976) moved to Hollywood and had his art studio there. He designed several chess sets and hoped one of his designs would become the standard for the World Chess Federation (FIDE), but this never happened.
In 1940, actor George Sanders (1906-1972) married Susan Larson. They divorced in 1949. She didn't play chess, so he would have his brother, actor Tom Conway (1904-1967), over after dinner and play chess far into the night without a word to their wives. (source: Modern Screen, Apr 1942, p. 83)
In 1941, English actor Herbert Marshall (1890-1966) played correspondence chess with a British schoolmate as he made movies in Hollywood. Later, he made numerous appearances on the Armed Forces Radio Service, hosting a variety of shows. (source: Modern Screen, Oct 1941, p. 9)
In 1942, "The Talk of the Town" was released. Leopold Dilg, played by Cary Grant (1904-1986) and Professor Michael Lightcap, played by Ronald Colman (1891-1958), become fast friends and often play chess together. Dilg is the better chess player. (source: Modern Screen, Jul 1942, p. 102)
In the 1940s, character actor Fritz Feld (1900-1993) played a lot of chess. He had a collection of over 300 photos of himself playing chess with other actors and actresses. His collection was exhibited at the Library of the Performing Arts at the Lincoln Center in New York. In the 1940s, U.S. chess champion Herman Steiner and International Master (later honorary grandmaster) George Koltanowski would visit his home in the evenings and they would play chess until 6 am the following morning. He played chess with Janet Leigh. He considered John Barrymore as the strongest chess player in Hollywood, followed by Humphrey Bogart, Charles Boyer, Charles Coburn, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
In 1941, Barbara Stanwyck (1907-1990) played chess with director Frank Capra between scenes of the movie "Meet John Doe." Gary Cooper usually took interest in the chess games and watched.
In 1941, Rita Hayworth (1918-1987) played chess with Tyrone Power during the making of "Blood and Sand." (source: The Evening Independent, May 19, 1941)
In 1941, Olivia de Havilland (1916-2009) played chess with Errol Flynn (1909-1959) between scenes of "They Died with Their Boots On."
In 1941, Vivien Leigh (1913-1967) played chess with Lawrence Olivier between scenes during the filming of "Forty Ninth Parallel." She listed chess as one of her favorite games.
Louis Persinger (1887-1966) was one of the greatest violinists who ever lived. In 1941, he won the first USCF Open postal chess tournament. In 1944, he played in the U.S. Chess Championship, but took last place. When he was a judge at violin contests, he would usually pull out his pocket chess set and study chess or find some other judge, such as David Oistrakh, to play chess. He was a member of the Marshall Chess Club in New York.
In 1941, William Holden (1918-1981) married Brenda Marshall. They divorced in 1971. They were both chess players. (source: Screenland, Jul 1951, p. 59)
In 1942, Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957) was active in chess in Hollywood and he played chess with patients in Veterans hospitals. He was also playing correspondence chess with several GIs overseas until he was visited by the FBI in 1943 and was told not to play any more correspondence chess with military members for the duration of the war. The FBI was reading his mail and thought that the chess notation he was sending to Europe were secret codes.
In 1942, actor Paul Henreid (1908-1992) played Victor Laszlo in Casablanca. Paul was considered an excellent chess player, along with Humphrey Bogart. They both played chess between scenes. (source: Modern Screen, Jul 1946, p. 41)
In 1942, Helmut Dantine (1918-1982) played a refugee in Casablanca. Helmut was also a good chess player and played chess with Humphrey Bogart between scenes in the 1944 movie "Passage to Marseille." Helmut called chess his favorite diversion. Helmut and Bogart were just about even in chess skill. After the movie, the two continued to play chess over the telephone. Helmut always carred a portable chess board in the glove compartment of his car, just in case. (source: Modern Screen, Jun 1944, p. 91)
In 1942, Marlene Dietrich (1904-1992) played chess with John Wayne (1907-1979) between scenes of the movie "Pittsburgh." She always carried a tiny chess set and played chess during plane flights and ocean voyages. (source: The Franklin News-Herald, Apr 16, 1965)
In 1942, Fran Carlon (1913-1993) played star reporter Lorelei Kilbourne on the radio show "Big Town." Her husband, Casey Allen, played Dusty, the photographer's assistant on the same show. They were both chess players. (source: Radio and TV Mirror, Jul 1950, p. 52)
In 1944, actress Mitzi Mayfair (1915-1976) learned chess and played in the Ladies' tournament at the Pan-American Chess Congress in 1945. She later took up correspondence chess.
In 1944, actor Donald O'Connor (1925-2003) married Gwen Carter. They divorced in 1954. They were both chess players. (source: Radio Mirror, May 1947, p. 35 and Chess Review, Apr 1950, p. 97)
In 1945, Ava Gardner (1922-1990) married Arte Shaw. Shaw hired a Russian chess master to tutor her in chess. After a few months of lessons, she started beating him at chess. He never asked her to play chess again. (source: Ava Gardner. "Love is Nothing" by Lee Server, 2007, p. 160In 1945, Humphrey Bogart and his new wife (they were just married and both were chess players), Lauren Bacall (1924- ), along with Charles Boyer (1899-1978) and Herman Steiner, appeared on the cover of the June-July Chess Review magazine. The shot was taken during the filming of The Confidential Agent.
In August 1945, Linda Darnell (1921-1965) played several chess games with Roseanne Murray. She attended the 1945 Pan-American Chess Congress and was crowned Queen of Ceremonies at the event. She appeared in the October 1945 issues of "Chess Review."
In 1945, Charles Boyer (1899-1978) played chess with Dr. Walter O. Cruz, chess champion of Brazil between scenes of "Confidential Agent." (source: CHESS, April 1946)
In 1946, John Wayne (1907-1979) married Mexican actress Esperanza "Chata" Baur (1924-1961). They divorced in 1954. Both played chess at home in San Fernando. (source: Modern Screen, Aug 1950, p. 31)
In 1946, Gregory Peck (1916-2003) took up chess with dreams of beating Humphrey Bogart. (source: Modern Screen, Aug 1946, p. 31)
In 1946 Humphrey Bogart lost a match and $100 to the restaurateur, Mike Romanoff (1890-1972). That evening Bogart went home, and then phoned Romanoff to play one more game over the phone for another $100. Romanoff agreed, and then lost in 20 moves. Bogart just happened to have former US chess champion Herman Steiner over his house, and Bogart's moves were really Steiner's moves.
In 1946-47, actor Glenn Ford (1916-2006) played correspondence chess with a Marine buddy stationed in China. He also played chess with Marlon Brando. (source: Modern Screen, Feb 1947, p. 53)
In 1947, Deborah Kerr (1921-2007) played chess with Clark Gable during the filming of "The Hucksters."
In 1947, Lana Turner (1920-1995) had a chess scene with her playing chess with Spencer Tracy (1900-1967) in "Cass Tamberlane." There were several chess scenes in the movie. Herman Steiner was the chess advisor for the movie. He told Lana Turner, "Don't play chess. Sitting at a chess board for hours might make you fat and spoil your perfect figure." (source: Chess Review, Jul 1947, p. 5)
In 1947, a new type of automatic radio-telegraph service was created by RCA. It allowed a 10-player USA team play against a team from Argentina, separated by more than 5,400 miles. The match got underway on Nov 7, 1947 between members of the Manhattan Chess Club and an Argentine team sponsored by the La Plata Jockey Club of Argentina, in Buenos Aires. The event marked the first use in an international chess competition of the RCA automatic technique teleprinter tape-relays. At no time did it take longer than 21 seconds for the moves of each player to be known across the 5,400 miles. (source: Radio Age, Jan 1948, p. 16)
In 1948, actor Rory Calhoun (1922-1999), best known for starring in a large number of Westerns in the 1950s and 1960s) married Lita Baron. They divorced in 1970. They were both chess players. (source: Modern Screen, Mar 1958, p. 39)
In 1948, actress June Allyson (1917-2006) played chess with Van Johnson (1916-2008) in her trailer between takes of "The Bride Goes Wild."
In 1948, actress Betty Field (1913-1973) was listed as the 10th best chess player in Hollywood. Elsa Lancaster (1902-1986) was also a strong chess player in Hollywood. (source: The Milwaukee Journal, Jul 3, 1948).
In 1948, Lee J. Cobb (1911-1976) played Wally Look of the Los Angeles Times in an off-hand game during a break in the shooting of the movie "Call Northside 777." Jimmy Stewart (1908-1997) kibitzed during the game. (source: Chess Review, Feb 1949, p. 4)
In 1949, actor Jeff Chandler (1918-1961) and actress Marta Toren (1925-1957) played chess between scenes of their movie "Sword in the Desert." (source: Chess Review, Apr 1950, p. 97)
In 1949, journalist Mike Wallace (1918-2012) married Buff Cobb. They were divorced in 1955. The played chess at home. (source: Radio TV Mirror, Feb 1954, p. 49)
In 1949, Simone Simon (1910-2005) was interviewed and said she played chess, especially when she was travelling on ships. (source: Syracuse Post-Standard, May 21, 1949)
In 1949, Zsa Zsa Gabor (1917-2016) played chess with her new husband, George Sanders (1906-1972). George wrote in his autobiography that the two played chess nearly every night on their honeymoon. The two divorced in 1954.
In 1950, actor Errol Flynn (1909-1959) married actress Patrice Wymore (1926-2014). Many times he would cancel reservations at a supper club to spend a quiet evening with his wife playing chess. (source: Modern Screen, Oct 1956, p. 70)
In 1951, the movie "Strangers on a Train" was released. Between scenes, actors Farley Granger (1925-2011) and Robert Walker (1918-1951) played chess. (source: Screenland, Jun 1951, p. 17)
In March 1952, Humphrey Bogart was in San Francisco and played a game with George Koltanowski. Koltanowski played blindfolded and defeated Bogart in 41 moves. Bogart had earlier played Sammy Reshevsky when Reshevsky was giving a simultaneous exhibition, and drew him at Romanoff's Restaurant in Hollywood.
In 1952 Bogart won the Best Actor Oscar for his character in The African Queen. He and Katherine Hepburn played chess while making The African Queen in Stanleyville. Bogart claimed to be the strongest chess player among the Hollywood stars. He did lose to Art Buchwald, columnist for the New York Herald, when they played.
In 1952, actress Lynne Rogers starred in "Guiding Light," the longest soap opera ever on television. She and her husband Tim Taylor were chess players. She made a chess table for her husband as a Christmas gift. (source: TV Radio Mirror, Aug 1956, p. 83)
In 1952, actress Mala Powers (1931-2007) played correspondence chess with hospitalized military veterans she met while on tour in Tokyo and South Korea. (source: Massillon Evening Independent, Aug 7, 1952)
In the 1950s, actress and singer Rosemary Clooney (1928-2002), and her husband, Jose Ferrer, took lessons from Herman Steiner (1905-1955). Barbara Hale (1922- ) also took lessons from Steiner and was a member of the Herman Steiner Chess Club in Hollywood. Katharine Hepburn (1909-2003) and Margaret Sullivan (1909-1960) also took chess lessons from Steiner.
Over the years, the Hollywood Chess Group and the Herman Steiner Chess Club was visited by many movie stars, including Lew Ayres (1908-1996), Lauren Bacall, John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Humphrey Bogart, Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), Charles Boyer, J. Edward Bromberg (1903-1951), Nigel Bruce (1895-1953), Charlie Chaplin, Rosemary Clooney (1928-2002), Helmut Dantine (1917-1982), Linda Darnell (1923-1965), Henry Darrow (1933- ), Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Fritz Feld (1900-1993), Jose Ferrer, Henry Fonda (1905-1982), Sydney Greenstreet (1879-1954), Barbara Hale (1922- ), Louis Hayward, Katharine Hepburn (1909-2003), Louis Jourdan, Duan Kennedy, Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999), Myrna Loy (1905-1993), Ernst Lubitsch, Dean Martin, Walter Matthau, Mitzi Mayfair, Frank Morgan, Kathleen O'Malley Maureen O'Sullivan, Sam Peckinpah, Anthony Quinn (1915-2001), Basil Rathbone (1892-1967), Man Ray (1890-1996), Mike Romanoff (1890-1971), George C. Scott (1927-1999), Josef von Sternberg, Shirley Temple, Franchot Tone, Jean Trent, Roseanne Murray, John Wayne (1907-1979), Blly Wilder (1906-2002), and Bill Williams.
In the 1950s, storyteller and radio show host John Henry Faulk (1913-1990) picked up a new hobby and started playing chess. He called it "my greatest and most serious weakness." (source: TV Radio Mirror, Jan 1955, p. 13)
In the 1950s, famous radio announcer Norman Brokenshire (1898-1965), known as Sir Silken Speech, became an announcer for television, and had his own series. His favorite pastime was chess. He offered instruction in home crafts and made chess tables. (source: Radio TV Mirror, Jul 1955, p. 4)
In the 1950s, Julius La Rosa (1930-2016) was an Italian-American traditional popular music singer and a regular on the Arthur Godfrey Show. He was a chess enthusiast. He said, "I find the game very challenging. I am beginning to learn a couple of opening gambits. If you master a good gambit, you increase your chances for a sure win." (source: Radio TV Mirror, Sep 1955, pp. 64 and 92)
In the 1950s, actress Nancy Berg (1931- ) played chess with her husband, actor Geoffrey Horne. She also played chess with Phil Silvers. (source: The Winona Daily News, May 24, 1955)
In the 1950s, Brook Byron (1913-2006) was a model and actress. She and her husband, a jet engine designer, played chess. (source: Radio TV Mirror, Sep 1954, p. 69)
In 1953, actor Marlon Brando (1924-2004) played chess between scenes while filming Julius Caesar. A Hollywood reporter wanted to get an interview with Brando. Brando agreed if the reporter would play a game of chess with him. The reporter did play a game of chess against Brando and won. Brando later said about the interview, "That was the worst interview I ever gave." Brando played many chess games with Humphrey Bogart. When Brando died, his chess sets were auctioned by Christie's in Los Angeles in 2005 (purchased by Neville Tuli, an art collector).
In 1954, Simone Signoret (1921-1985) played chess with Yves Montand.
In 1954, Jimmy Stewart (1908-1997) and Wendell Corey (1914-1968) played chess between scenes of "Rear Window." Grace Kelly (1929-1982) was also a chess player and kibitzed during their games.
In 1955, Joan Bennett (1910-1990) played chess with Humphrey Bogart during the filming of "We're No Angels."
In 1955, singer and actor Eddie Fisher (1928-2010) married Debbie Reynolds (1932-2016). They were married for four years. They played chess and said that chess was their favorite game ("because it slowed us down"). (source: Modern Screen, May 1956, p. 67)
In 1956, Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) wrote the screenplay for The Killing (also called Bed of Fear), based on a novel (Clean Break) by Lionel White. This was his first movie with chess in it. After getting out of Alcatraz prison after 5 years, Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden) masterminds a race-track heist (filmed at Bay Meadows Racetrack in San Mateo) to steal $2 million. Clay goes to the Academy of Chess and Checkers looking for a buddy of his. He passes by several chess games in progress until he reaches one being overseen and kibitzed by big 250 pound Maurice Oboukhoff (Kola Kwariani (1903-1980)). The club is run by a guy named Fischer. Clay interrupts the kibitzing to talk to Maurice. They go to an empty chess table by the window where Clay offers Maurice $2,500 to start a fight diversion for a robbery at the race track. When Clay asks Maurice how's life been treating him, Maurice says, "About the same as always. When I need some money, I go out and wrestle. But mostly I'm up here, wasting my time playing chess. But I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I didn't have this place to go to."
In 1956, Samuel Reshevsky gave a simultaneous display in Los Angeles. One of the players that got a draw from him was Humphrey Bogart.
In 1956, actress Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) learned how to play chess about the time she married Arthur Miller. Over the years, she purchased expensive chess sets or received them as gifts. (source: Redlands Daily Facts, Feb 26, 1960 and "Marilyn Monroe: A Case for Murder," by Jay Margolis, p. 113)
In 1956, the Irish actress Siobhan McKenna (1923-1986) lived in New York. She would often invite friends up to her sublet apartment for a drink and a game of chess. (source: Modern Screen, Sep 1956, p. 36)
In 1956, Michael Landon (1936-1991) married Dodie Levy-Fraser. They divorced in 1962. Michael met Dodie on a double-date, and they played chess at her house. Landon played chess a lot between takes on Bonanza, including chess games with actor Dan Blocker (1928-1972). (source: TV Radio Mirror, Jan 1962, p. 29)
In 1956, Sonny Fox (1925- ) became the first host of "The $64,000 Challenge, the game show spinoff of "The $64,000 Question." He said that his favorite year-round sport was chess and that he collected ivory chess sets. (source: TV Radio Mirror, Sep 1956, p. 42)
From 1957 to 1963, Tony Dow (1945- ) starred in the TV series "Leave It to Beaver." He was a chess player. Jerry Mathers (1948- ) is also an avid chess player. (source: Radio TV Mirror, Aug 1958, p. 18)
In 1957, television host Jack Linkletter (1937-2007), son of Art Linkletter, married Barbara Hughes. They were both chess players. (source: Radio TV Mirror, Oct 1958, p. 11)
From 1957 to 1962, actor Jack Kelly (1927-1992) played Bart Maverick in the TV series Maverick. He and his wife Donna were chess players. (source: Radio TV Mirror, Oct 1958, p. 46)
From 1958 to 1963, actor John Connell (1923-2015) played Dr. David Malone in the TV series "Young Doctor Malone." Connell was a chess player and played chess with his family. Another chess player on the show was actor Peter Brandon (1926-1983), who played Dr. Ted Powell. (source: Radio TV Mirror, Jul 1960, p. 51 and Dec 1960, p. 53)
In 1958, Jane Fonda (1937- ) played chess with Susan Strasberg on the beach in Malibu. It was during these chess games that Jane was encouraged to take acting lessons and become an actress. Jane Fonda encourages chess playing among children and teenagers at risk. She has been involved with chess programs for inner-city youth. Jane played chess with her ex-husband, Roger Vadim (1928-2000) in the 1960s.
In the late 1950s, Marlon Brando (1924-2004) hung out at the Club Renaissance in Hollywood and played chess with friends. (source: Modern Screen, Feb 1959, p. 60)
In 1959, Claude Akins (1926-1994), played chess during the making of "Rio Bravo." He played chess constantly with John Wayne, Dean Martin, and Ricky Nelson. Akins said that he taught Dean Martin how to play chess. In 1973, Claude starred in Battle for the Planet of the Apes (he was Aldo). Between takes, Claude was always playing chess in a gorilla costume. Claude played in one of Walter Browne's blitz tournaments and was a spectator (along with Morgan Fairchild and Gene Scherer) with a front row seat at the 1988 World Action Chess Championship in Mazatlan, Mexico. One of his regular chess partners was actor William Windom (1923-Aug 16, 2012). There is a photo of Claude Akins and William Windom playing chess in the March 1988 issue of Chess Life.
In 1959, Leslie Parrish (1935- ) starred as Daisy Mae in the movie version of Li'l Abner. In 1962, she appeared in The Manchurian Candidate. She liked to play chess. In 1962, in breaks between scenes in the film Three on a Match (For Love or Money), she set a chess board and pieces and challenged other actors. Parrish said she became a chess player to escape boredom during an illness. Rather than read her temperature chart all day, she studied a book on chess. (source: I Need a Man's Pants to Wash by Lorie Eskert, 2002, p. 51 and Star News, Sep 12, 1962, and Radio TV Mirror. Sep 1961, p. 9)
In 1960, the movie "Brainwashed" was released. It was based on Stefan Zweig's novella "The Royal Game." Thrown into prison by the Gestapo, brilliant Austrian aristocratvon Basil (played by Curt Jurgens) calls on every ounce of his mental agility to resist the pit of madness, turning to chess to occupy his faculties. After being released from prison, he holds the world's chess champion, Karl Centowic (played by Mario Adorf) to a draw. (source: Film Bulletin, Jun 24, 1961, p. 33)
In 1960, actress Sylvia Miles (1932- ) started playing chess. She played in New York chess tournaments in the early 1960s and was a member of the Manhattan Chess Club. She said she took up backgammon to distract herself from chess. She said she had become too much of a chess bum. She claims she played chess with Bobby Fischer. She was an Academy-award Best Supporting actress nominee for Midnight Cowboy in 1969. (source: York, PA Daily Record, Oct 2, 1972)
In 1960, the actor John Smith (1931-1995) married the actress Luana Patten (138-1996). They were married for four years. They spent their evenings at home playing against each other at chess. (source: TV Radio Mirror, Feb 1961, p. 18)
In 1960, actress Cara Williams (1925- ) starred in the television series Pete and Gladys. She was a chess player and often played with her son, John. (source: TV Radio Mirror, Jun 1961, p. 33)
In 1960, Sandra Dee (1942-2005) played chess with Rock Hudson in Rome on the set of "Come September." She married Bobby Darin in 1960, and they both played chess.
In 1961, Gregory Peck (1916-2003) played chess with Anthony Quinn (1915-2001) between scenes in the filming of "The Guns of Navarone." Quinn brought several portable chess sets to the film's location, and chess was the main off-screen pastime.
In 1961, the actress Corinne Calvet (1925-2001) played chess at the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles. (source: Ottawa Citizen, Nov 18, 1961)
From 1961 to 1966, "Mister Ed" appeared on CBS. The talking horse had scenes of Mr. Ed playing chess with Wilbur Post (played by Alan Young). (source: Radio TV Mirror, Nov 1961, p. 43)
In the 1960s, Jimmy O'Neill was a popular American DJ who later hosted the television show Shindig! He called himself a chess fancier. (source: TV Radio Mirror, Jan 1962, p. 53)
In 1962, Stanley Kubrick directed Lolita (1962). It was based on the 1955 book, Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), a chess player. In 1930, Nabokov wrote Zashchita Luzhina (Luzhin's Defense), which later became a movie. It was about a chess grandmaster who later commits suicide.
In 1962, the movie "The Longest Day" was released. Three singers that turned actors, Paul Anka, Fabian, and Tommy Sands, played chess with each other between scenes. Other actors in the movie that played chess between scenes included John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, and Stuart Whitman. (source: TV Radio Mirror, May 1962, p. 13)
In 1962, Gregory Peck (1916-2003) taught Polly Bergen (1930-2014) how to play chess between scenes when they both starred in Cape Fear in 1962.
In 1964, Stanley Kubrick directed Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. It was a novel, called Red Alert, written by Peter George. During the filming of the movies, he played many chess games with cast and crew, including games with George C. Scott (1927-1999).
In 1966, Henry Fonda (1905-1982) attended the second Piatigorsky Cup chess tournament in Santa Monica. In the 1976 movie, Futureworld, Chuck Brown (Peter Fonda) played chess with Traly Ballard (Blythe Danner). In the 1978 file, The Greatest Battle, General Foster (Henry Fonda (1905-1982)) had a chessboard and chess position in front of him in one of the scenes. When she was 21, Jane Fonda (1937- ) played chess with Susan Strasberg on the beach in Malibu. It was during these chess games that Jane was encouraged to take acting lessons and become an actress. Jane Fonda encourages chess playing among children and teenagers at risk. Jane played chess with her ex-husband, Roger Vadim (1928-2000) in the 1960s.
In 1966, Sophie Loren (1934- ) played chess with Marlon Brando. She appeared with Marlon Brandon sitting behind a chess board, observed by Charlie Chaplin, in a 1966 "Life" magazine article.
On August 15, 1966, Boris Spassky won the 2nd Piatigorsky Cup Tournament, held at the Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica. 2nd place went to Bobby Fischer. Bent Larsen took 3rd place. Portisch and Unzicker took 4th-5th. Petrosian and Reshevsky took 6th-7th. Najdorf took 8th. Ivkov took 9th. Donner took 10th. Spassky won $5,000 and Fischer won $3,000. The event had over 900 spectators, the largest audience ever to witness a chess tournament in the United States. Some of the spectators included Edward G. Robinson, Henry Fonda, Richard Boone, Joan Blondell, Rhonda Fleming, Van Cliburn, Victor Borge, and Leopold Stokowski.
In 1970, Raquel Welch (1940- ) played chess with Tom Jones during filming of a TV special.
Bobby Darin (1936-1973) was an American singer and actor who loved to play chess. In 1973, he was about to sponsor one of the largest chess tournaments in the United States when he died after heart surgery. The Darin Classic would have been a $25,000 prize tournament. Darin often played chess on his weekly TV show, the Bobby Darin Show. He was playing chess just before he went into surgery. His wife, Sandra Dee, also played chess. Bobby Darin's son, Dodd, runs a chess publishing house.
In 1975, Jennifer O'Neill (1948- ) played chess with James Mason in a scene in "The Devil and the Schoolteacher." (source: Progress Bulletin, Pomona, CA, Jul 31, 1975)
In 1980, Stanley Kubrick directed The Shining. One day, actor Tony Burton (1937- ) arrived on set carrying a chess set in hopes of getting a game with someone during a break from filming. Kubrick noticed the chess set. Despite production being behind schedule, Kubrick proceeded to call off filming for the day and play chess with Burton. Kubrick won every game, but still thanked Burton for the games since it had been some time that he'd played chess against a challenging opponent.
In 1981, Mia Farrow (1945- ) took chess lessons. She and Woody Allen played chess together.
In 1982, Catherine Deneuve (1943- ) played chess with David Bowie (1947-2016) during the filming of "The Hunger."
In 1982, Kate Jackson (1949- ) was on the "Tonight Show" and mentioned that she played chess. She said she would rather play with her Sargon chess computer than watch TV.
In 1987, actor Adam Baldwin (1962- ) starred in Full Metal Jacket. While on the set, he played about 50 games of chess with Stanley Kubrick. When Baldwin was asked if he had a great memory from Full Metal Jacket, he responded, "Beating Stanley Kubrick at chess." There is a photo of him playing blitz chess with William Windom in 1988. In the 1992 movie, Deadbolt, Alec (Adam Baldwin) plays chess with Marty Hiller (Justine Bateman) and Jordan (Chris Mulkey).
In 1988, actor Jesse Vint plays won the World Celebrity Chess Championship, held at the Century Plaza in Los Angeles. He has played chess against Anatoly Karpov.
In 1989, Heath Ledger (1979-2008) won the Western Australia Junior Chess Championship. He was an avid chess player. He learned chess at an early age and said he played at least one game of chess a day. He used to play almost every day at the Washington Square Park in New York.
In 1989, actress Morgan Fairchild (1950- ) hosted a charity chess event in Mexico.
Film producer and entrepreneur Ted Field (1953- ) plays chess. He sponsored the 1990 world chess championship match between Karpov and Kasparov when part of the match was held in New York. He relaxes by playing blitz chess on the Internet.
In 1999, Stanley Kubrick directed Eyes Wide Shut. He was still playing chess with some of the actors and stage hands. He often played chess with Frederic Raphael (1931- ), the screenwriter to Eyes Wide Shut.
In 2009, actress Eliza Dusku (1980- ) learned chess while in Los Angeles shooting the TV show "Dollhouse." She was on the Howard Stern show in February, 2009. Howard asked Eliza if chess played chess. She said that she does. She wrote in Twitter in June, 2009, "Yes, I'm a chess nerd too."
In 2011, actor Alan Alda (1936- ) starred in the movie "Tower Heist." His character played chess online. Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), as a crooked businessman, talks to Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) about the Marshall chess swindle involving Frank Marshall and Lewitsky in a World Championship game in 1912 in Helsinki. Alda called the swindle as the greatest move in the history of chess. Alda should have known better. It was a real game, but not a world championship game, and not in Helsinki (it was played in Breslau, now called Wroclaw). Alan's father, Robert Alda (1914-1986), may also have been a chess player. Robert Alda played a chess hustler (Bruce Conrad) in the 1946 movie, Beast with Five Fingers. His opponent was Francis Ingram (Victor Francen).
In 2013, actor Alec Baldwin (1958- ) donated $2,500 to help the chess team at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island defray the cost of traveling to a national scholastic chess event. The team took 8th place out of 63 teams at the Supernationals in Nashville, Tennessee.
In 2014, actress Viola Davis (1965- ) donated $30,000 to the chess club at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island. Davis' sister is teacher at that school and Viola attend that school in the 1980s.
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