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Friday, September 21st, 2012

Celebrities, Movies, and Chess 2

Woody Allen (born in 1935) is a chess player. In 1965, he submitted a story to Playboy about a pair of refined but doty men (Allen and Mittleman) playing postal chess. Playboy turned it down, saying the story was much too literary for their magazine. He then wrote The Gossage-Vardebedian Papers, a funny short story of two correspondence chess players. It first appeared in The New Yorker on January 2o, 1966. He once said that he failed to make the chess team because of his height. Woody directed the 2009 movie, Whatever Works, about a physicist named Boris who is a chess instructor for kids. In the 1965 movie, What’s New, Pussycat?, Woody Allen appears as a chess player named Victor Shakapopolus. He plays chess with Tempest O’Ryan (Nicole Karin). In the 1976 movie, The Front, Howard Prince (Woody Allen) plays chess with Alfred Miller (Michael Murphy) at a New York chess club.

Jason Alexander (born in 1959) probably plays chess (he is a big poker player as well). He played a genius chess-playing bum ( Leonard) in Malcolm in the Middle in season 4, episode 19 (Future Malcolm), which aired on May 4, 2003. In one of the scenes, Malcolm (Frankie Muniz) set up the chess board in the park with the king and queen reversed.

John Amos (born in 1939) plays chess in real life. He played a chess player in the 1980 TV movie, Alcatraz: the Whole Shocking Story. Harlem mobster Bumpy Johnson (John Amos) plays chess with Clarence Carnes (Michael Beck).

British actor Anthony Andrews (born in 1948) plays chess in real life. In 1990, he played Professor Moriarty in the TV movie Sherlock Holmes and the Prince of Crime. He and Sherlock Holmes (Edward Woodward) banter around a chess game.

Ann-Margret Olsson (born in 1941) plays chess in real life. In the 1993 movie, Grumpy Old Men, Ariel Truax (Ann-Margret) plays chess with John Gustafson (Jack Lemmon). In the 1995 movie, Grumpier Old Men, husband and wife Ariel and John (Ann-Margret and Jack Lemmon) play chess.

Alan Arkin (born in 1934) may have been a chess player. He was a chess player in several movies. In the 1968 movie, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, John Singer (Alan Arkin) is a deaf chess player. In the 1978 TV film, The Defection of Simas Kudirka, Simas (Alan Arkin), a radio operator, plays chess with Captain Popov (Donald Pleasence). The movie is based on a true story of the attempted defection in 1970 of a Lithuanian seaman. In the 1987 British made-for-TV film, Escape From Sobibor, Leon Feldhendler (Alan Arkin) plays chess with Lt. Sasha Pechersky (Rutger Hauer) and Abraham Weiss (Zlatan Fazlagic). In the 1996 movie, Mother Night, George Kraft (Alan Arkin) plays several games of chess with Howard Campbell (Nick Nolte). In the 1999 movie, Jakob the Liar, Max Frankfurter (Alan Arkin) plays chess with his daughter Rosa (Nina Siemaszko).

Sean Astin (born in 1971) plays chess in real life. He is best known as Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Mikey Walsh in The Goonies, and the title character of Rudy. In the 1987 movie, White Water Summer, Alan (Sean Astin) plays Vic (Kevin Bacon) in a game of chess. In the 1995 film, Harrison Bergeron, Harrison (Sean Astin) plays chess with brother Garth (Matthew Ferguson) and Phillipa (Miranda de Pencier).

English/US actor Lionel Atwill (1885-1946) played chess in several movie classics. He is best known as the menacing villain or mad scientist in several Hollywood horror films. In the 1939 movie, Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation, Professor Hildebrand (Lionel Atwill) plays chess with Handrick Manderson (Joseph Schildkraut). In the 1944 movie, House of Frankenstein, Inspector Arnz (Lionel Atwill) plays chess with Burgomaster Hussman (Sig Ruman).

Lew Ayres (1908-1996) played chess in real life. He was on the executive board of the Hollywood Chess Club, along with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., in the 1930s. In the 1946 movie, The Dark Mirror, psychiatrist Scott Eliot (Lew Ayres) studies a chess position at home.

– Bill Wall

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