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Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

Celebrities, Movies, and Chess 3

Antonio Banderas (born in 1960) plays chess. In the 1995 movie, Assassins, Miguel Bain (Antonio Banderas) plays chess with Robert Rath (Sylvester Stallone). In the 2008 movie, The Other Man, Ralph (Antonio Banderas) plays chess with Paul (Liam Neeson).

Adam Baldwin (born in 1962) plays chess in real life. In 1987, he 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).

Ian Bannen (1928-1999) was a Scottish character actor who played chess in a few films. In the 1973 movie, The Mackintosh Man, Ronald Slade (Ian Bannen) plays chess with Joseph Reardon (Paul Newman). In the 1997 British TV series, Original Sin, Gabriel Dauntsey (Ian Bannen) plays chess with Francis Peverell (Amanda Root).

Harry Belafonte (born in 1927) is a chess player. He was recently interviewed and said, “Every day for me is a chess game, another day at the board.” In the 2006 movie, Bobby, Nelson (Harry Belafonte) plays chess with the doorman, John Casey (Anthony Hopkins ).

Ralph Bellamy (1904-1991) was an actor for 62 years and played chess in a few movies. In 1939, in the movie, Blind Alley, Dr. Anthony Shelby (Ralph Bellamy) plays chess with gangster Hal Wilson (Chester Morris). In the 1976 TV film, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, Dr. Ernie Guther (Ralph Bellamy) plays chess with Todd (John Travolta).

Jim Belushi probably plays chess in real life. In 1984, he did a funny sketch on Saturday Night Live playing a chess coach called Donald Ramp. In the 1988 movie, Red Heat, Chicago detective Art Ritzik (Jim Belushi) plays chess with his chess computer. He takes some chess advice from Russian Captain Ivan Danko (Arnold Schwarzenegger).

William Bendix (1906-1964) played chess in real life. In the 1947 movie, The Web, Lt. Damico (William Bendix) plays chess with Robert Regan (Edmond O’Brien). He was friends with Arnold Denker and Herman Steiner.

Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957) is perhaps the most well known chess-playing actor. He learned chess as a teenager in New York City. 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 Reins). 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 sever 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.

- Bill Wall

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