Judy Kay-Wolff


On  July 11, 2011 I published a blog identifying famous bridge players who illuminated many other fields — radio (you do remember that, don’t you?), stage, screen, TV, Broadway, sports, government, the military, industry, et al.   Several learned readers enriched my list and much was to be gleaned from their knowledge and contributions   If you were not on the blogging scene last year, you might enjoy flipping back and reading it.   It is name-dropping at it’s height!  The list appears to be unending and I wanted to add to it by sharing some recent discoveries I made:

In the realm of government, there were two British Prime Ministers – Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, the legendary Mahatma Gandhi – pioneer of Indian Nationalism, Chinese leader Ding Xiaoping who was known to have indulged in rubber bridge games at The Great Hall of China, and Malcolm Forbes (son of the founder of Forbes Magazine).  Add to that silent screen star Buster Keaton.

Another interesting tidbit – Bobby told me that the creator of the Dallas Aces,  Ira Corn, dated Greer Garson (of Mrs. Miniver fame) when she moved to Texas in the 1960s.  Also, I believe I may have mentioned that when the Aces were in their formative stages, they would host a Sunday Brunch and Bridge arranged by Ira’s Press Agent, Jean Carpenter.   She would research which bridge-playing traveling celebrities were scheduled to be featured on the Dallas entertainment circuit and extend an invitation to partake in Ira’s Sunday festivities.   Coincidentally Jean’s former husband was world famous cartoonist Charles Schulz who introduced Peanuts and Snoopy to the comic world and often alluded to bridge in his columns.  Because of Jean’s industrious efforts, Bobby and his teammates enjoyed bridge outings with the likes of Carol Channing, Meredith Baxter, Phyllis Diller and of course, a delightful (and pretty darned good bridge player and delightful personality) named George Burns. 

And then, of course there was everyone’s favorite famous bridge player Omar Sharif whom, in passing,  I casually played tribute to in my earlier blog.  However, he was far from a casual, run-of-the-mill bridge lover.  Back in the 80s, Omar accepted an invitation to appear in Dallas for the King Tut Traveling Exhibit.  At that time he enlisted Bobby and his beautiful, lovable late wife Debby to see him through the ordeal which mandated a rather heavy social schedule.  That routine included a media luncheon (hosted by the Dallas Mayor) which Omar basically emceed and both entertained and enlightened the large attendance present, relating some relatively risqué, off-color, amusing tales from his personal life.

There was also scheduled a Bridge Individual hosted by our esteemed guest which drew hordes of attendees.  Omar later led an All Star panel, critiquing the deals played in the earlier event, which reminded many present of his previous appearance in Dallas as a member of the Omar Sharif Bridge Circus playing a series of traveling three-cornered matches (in the very early 1970’s) against expert local teams and the World Champion Aces.  Since Omar’s team was made up principally of the fourteen-time Italian World Champions (Garozzo, Belladonna and Forquet), they presented the very summit of what our wonderful game had to offer in the way of exuding personalities — combined with the very essence of top level bridge.  (It is of coincidental note that it was I, in Philadelphia, who made all the arrangements for the Circus to appear there on their seven city tour and what I, with tongue in cheek, remember most vividly was the endless line of women congregated outside his door after hours). 

Both Bobby and I, through independently memorable exposure to such a great movie idol at different junctures in our respective lives, came to love and admire him as a warm, modest, outgoing human being, who always acted like just “one of the gang.”   His humility was like no other universally renowned personality I had ever met or read about.

There is no doubt that Omar Sharif, known primarily as a devastatingly handsome and poignant actor, has done more to promote our game than any other celebrity in history. 


ReneApril 5th, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Absolutely fascinating. Your recall of the past is spellbinding.

I just re-read your account of July 11th, 2011 and must admit that it would be of interest even to non-bridge players.


Judy Kay-WolffApril 5th, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Thanks Rene. I am lucky to have been on the bridge scene for so long and been exposed to that special touch added by world famed celebrities who earned their acceptance in other capacities but loved our game. Can’t believe I had never heard of the recent ones until the other day.