The child prodigy as a global celebrity: the chess wonder Samuel Reshevsky

Andrea Graus
2021 Celebrity Studies  
Focusing on the chess prodigy Samuel Reshevsky , this paper examines the international commercial exploitation of child prodigies and their rise to celebrity. In the early 1920s, this boy wonder toured Europe and the United States, where he defeated some of the best players in simultaneous chess exhibitions, met important personalities and became a subject of global fascination. His ascent into stardom just before Hollywood's child star era reveals the public's eagerness to capitalise on gifted
more » ... children as yet another commodity of the entertainment industry. Parents played a key role in exploiting child prodigies, despite the success of recent campaigns to secure children's rights such as compulsory education and the regulation of child labour. Meanwhile, philanthropists attempted to aid children like Reshevsky and stop their public exhibition. Moreover, psychologists examined their talent and worried about their futures. Overall, Reshevsky's case reconstructs the network of interests (commercial, humanitarian, scientific) surrounding child prodigies and historicises the child star phenomenon beyond the mainstream child performer.
doi:10.1080/19392397.2021.1965895 fatcat:irjy4q2dzzd6lba5at7n25rbtm