WOUB to have virtual screening of Walter Tevis documentary

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 12, 2021

ATHENS — You’ve likely heard of The Queen’s Gambit, The Hustler, The Color of Money and The Man Who Fell to Earth. But did you know, they were all written by former Ohio University Faculty Member and Kentucky Writer Walter Tevis? Tevis taught English literature and creative writing at Ohio University from 1965-1978.

WOUB, in partnership with the Ohio University Libraries and the Ohio University Alumni Association, is holding a virtual Zoom screening of an hour-long documentary about Tevis’ life called Walter Tevis: A Writer’s Gambit at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 9. After the film, a panel discussion will be held with Tevis’ children, Julia McGory and Will Tevis; Sam Crowl, a former Ohio University faculty colleague; and Bill Kimok, Ohio University archivist. The panel will be moderated by WOUB Community Engagement Manager Cheri Russo. Those who attend will also have the opportunity to ask questions of the panelists. Registration for the event is required: bit.ly/TevisWOUB

Both WOUB and the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections at Ohio University’s Alden Library supplied materials that were used in the film. The documentary was produced by Tom Thurman at Kentucky Educational Television (KET) and explores Tevis’ complex life and brilliant career, from his stint in a convalescent home as a young boy, to his early fame and struggles with alcohol and writer’s block, to his sobriety and late return to the typewriter when he penned four books in the final four years of his life.

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Many of Tevis’ novels were adapted into major motion pictures, and The Queen’s Gambit has become one of the most popular and critically acclaimed series of the past decade. Tevis had a gift for creating offbeat characters that resonated with audiences and tapped into the nation’s love of the underdog. The popularity of The Hustler film, starring Paul Newman, triggered a nationwide billiards craze, leaving manufacturers unable to keep up with pool table demand. When The Queen’s Gambit became a hit on Netflix, it triggered yet another run, this time on chess sets.

Despite Tevis’ market-moving abilities as a writer, he never achieved the fame and fortune of his contemporaries, such as Kurt Vonnegut and Harper Lee. And his early death at age 56 meant much of his commercial success was posthumous.

Those who cannot attended the virtual screening will have other opportunities to view the film. Walter Tevis: A Writer’s Gambit will air on WOUB HD at 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12 and again at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18.