KET documentary explores life of Kentucky writer Walter Tevis

Published 5:18 am Friday, July 9, 2021

Tevis is author of ‘The Queen’s  Gambit’, ‘The Hustler’ and ‘The Color of Money’

News Release

This month, KET is pleased to present a documentary film that explores the life of Kentucky  writer Walter Tevis, author of several novels adapted for the screen, including The Queen’s  Gambit, The Hustler and The Color of Money.

Walter Tevis: A Writer’s Gambit airs on Tuesday, July 13, at 8/7 pm on KET and on Thursday,  July 15, at 9/8 pm on KET2.

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The film’s trailer is found here:

The 60-minute film, produced by KET’s Tom Thurman, chronicles Tevis’ life and 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, one of which was The Queen’s Gambit that would  later be adapted into a blockbuster Netflix series.

Tom Thurman

Tevis—who grew up in Lexington and Richmond and taught classes at high schools in Irvine  and Carlisle as well as at the University of Kentucky and Northern Kentucky University—was  best known for his pair of pool hall novels that were adapted into hit movies, The Hustler (1961) and The Color of Money (1986).

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 last year, it triggered yet  another run, this time on chess boards.

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.