Cary Grant’s other REX – The gambling boat off Santa Monica, California – Part 2

Cary Grant’s other REX – The gambling boat off Santa Monica, California – Part 2

  • Film star of stars Cary Grant sailed on the great liner German liner S.S. Rex when crossing the pond but gambled on board the “Rex” just off the Santa Monica pier.

The REX – a gambling ship off Santa Monica, California in the 1930s and early 1940s.

The Italian liner or real S.S. Rex.

This was the real S.S. REX. Cary Grant’s favorite way to cross from New York to Europe in the late 1930s. 

  • Besides the fabulous Italian ocean liner, S.S. REX launched in 1931; there was another S.S. REX.
  • The far lesser (but profitable) SS REX was operated as a gambling ship off Los Angeles by Anthony Cornero.
Cary Grant in Gambling Ship.

Cary Grant in Gambling Ship.

  • Gary Grant made a movie in the early 1930s based on the gambling boats.


Anthony Cornero 

He was also known as “The Admiral” and “Tony the Hat” (August 18, 1899-July 31, 1955) was an organized crime figure in Southern California from the 1920s through the 1950s.


During his varied criminal career, he bootlegged liquor into Los Angeles, ran gambling ships in international waters, and eventually operated casinos in Las Vegas.

Los Angeles Times advertisement.

In 1938, Cornero decided to open a shipboard gaming operation off the Southern California coast. Sailing in international waters, Cornero would be able to run his gambling dens without interference from U.S. authorities or the Cosa Nostra.

Gambling seen aboard Cornero’s off-shore ships.

Cornero purchased two ships (more like barges) and converted them into casinos at the cost of $300,000. He named the ships the SS Rex and the SS Tango.

The S. S. Tango




About Michael L. Grace

During the mid-80s, Michael Grace worked as a writer on the TV Hit Series THE LOVE BOAT. He wrote many of the two hour special featuring great stars of the past, including Lana Turner, Claire Trevor, Anne Baxter, Ethel Merman, Alexis Smith, etc. The public’s access to these stars, in familiar dramas and comedies, made them want to go on a cruise. They could see the stars in an ordinary world as “regular” people. The phenomenally successful series was responsible for creating the cruise industry as we know it today. By the time he was writing for Love Boat, the great steamship companies and their liners were flying hand me down foreign flags, painted like old whores, scrapped or doing three day cruises to the Bahamas. He had sailed on over thirty ships and liners with his parents, aunt and grandmother in late 50s to early 70s. The very successful CRUISING THE PAST website has been an outgrowth of Michael’s strong interest in cruise and social history. Drawing on his own knowledge and a vast maritime and social history collection, he is able to produce a very successful website. Michael is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. He has written for television and films. Read more by going to "About" (on the above dashboard) and clicking "Editor"…