Many people who have no knowledge of, or even interest in, Chess know the name Bobby Fischer because he is so iconic. There are such icons in all endeavors - those who transcend their fields and become public figures.
I know little or nothing about the video-media. I don't watch TV nor do I attend the cinema. Still, there are certain persons who work, or have worked, in the film and TV industries whose names I'm very familiar with.
One of these persons is John Wayne.
My perception of John Wayne has always been that of an anti-intellectual, brutish sort of man who theatrically and single-handedly rid the world of evil Germans, Japanese and Native Americans. And for this he had been placed on the pedestal of the American Male Ideal.
Of course, I knew that John Wayne had been a chess player and years ago had even incorporated photos of him playing chess in an article I wrote on chess and famous personalities. Not long ago, Bill Wall posted a photo of Wayne playing chess in the Greatest Chess Photos thread. NM Reb replied that he was surprised to learn that John Wayne had been a chess player. So, Reb knew about JohnWayne but didn't know he was a chess player, while I knew he was a chess player but really knew next to nothing about John Wayne. This gave me the incentive to learn something concrete about the man whom I only knew from impressions and see what I could find out about his chess-playing.
Here goes . . .
"Park Turril, who taught chemistry at Glendale, said Duke was a 'fine student. He did fine work, understood write-ups and never complained. He got A's all the way through.' He headed the school's debate team, won honor pins several years in a row, played an aggressive game of chess. was all but unbeatable at bridge and hearts because of an uncanny ability to count cards, and graduated with a four-year average of ninety-four, the salutorian in a class of two hundred students."
[the revelation that Rock Hudson was gay became public knowledge in 1985 when he was dying from AIDS. Before then...] "...it wasn't news to most in the business. Wayne obviously felt a need, in 1974, to quickly establish how much I knew before he spoke out of turnm asking me, 'You know about Rock?'
John Wayne on the set of Hondo, 1953
"Wayne soon became convinced that nobody could write dialogue for him as suitably as Jimmy Grant. The two became close friends and collaborators on projects until Grant's death in 1966. The writed kowtowed to Duke and tended to tell the star what he wanted to hear. One longtime observer maintained that Grant played chess with Wayne for over twenty years and managed never to win a game."
John Wayne on the set of Chishum
"A journalist who visited the set of The Fighting Kentuckian wrote that the assemblage gathered there looked like an overgrown Western family: 'In one corner, the Duke in coonskin cap, suede jacket, and dirty horsehide pants was playing chess with his stand-in. Grant Withers, Paul Fix, Bob Morrison - the Duke's brother, who is assistant director - and other compadres straddled around shootong the breeze.'"
"He was a very emotional guy, too. A lot of people might not think so, but he was. He loved to play bridge and he loved chess. In the pictures I did with him, he's always be playing chess over inthe corner. Ed Faulkner was Duke's chess partner. Ed was a good actor and a good chess player, but I don't think he ever did beat Duke." [Andrew V. McLaglen]
"I was a darn good chess player, too, and [I] had lots of matches with Duke during th filming [of Red River]. I never won once." [Pierce Lyden]
"He was a very good chess player. On one occassion I was watching. I don't know who he was playing, but he was chewing tobacco at the time. So he had this cup that you spit the chew into. He was so involved in the game and he turns to the side, keeps his eyes on the board, and spits. I said, 'Oh shit, Duke!' Now I have broken his concentration. He say, 'What the hell's your problem, mister?' I said, Goddammit, you spit on my boot, Duke!"' Well he thought that was the funniest thing that ever happened. And he laughed and laughed. I don't know what he found so humorous, but he just cracked up." [Robet Mitchum]
"McLintock!": Maureen O'Hara, John Wayne 1995
"Duke and Charlie [Charles F. Blair, her last husband] loved spending time together playing chess and I rarely saw them the whole time the Duke was visiting. They went fishing and flying in this big seaplane almost every day."
"His closest friend in Newport Beach was Porsche dealer Chick Iverson, but he also saw a great deal of Claire Trevor Bren and her husband. Duke and Milton Bren, a small, caustic yachtsman who took pleasure in poking fun at Waybe, shared many interests, and Wayne enjoyed the teasing. The Brens lived only three minutes away from Bayshore, and Duke frequently played chess with their younger son. When the boy was killed, Wayne wrote Claire Trevor a letter that she treasured. 'He was a man of deep feelings," and actress said, "much deeper than one would expect of John Wayne'.
[While starring together in the film Seven Sinners] "...for a time Dietrich and Wayne were intimate and appeared together at Moambo, the Trocadero, and other Hollywood night spots, all of which was good publicity for Duke. Dietrich attended football games and orizefights with him and they spent weekends together hunting and fishing. She brought him home-cooked meals on the set and they played chess while the crew prepared the next scene."
"Wayne oozed charisma aboard the Wild Goose [a 136' former naval vessel, bought for $110,000 in 1962, remodeled into a luxury boat requiring a crew of eight], and he played cards or chess for hours on its sixty-foot afterdeck."
on the set of Commancheros