Santa Fe’s All-Pullman Streamliner Super Chief… Janet Leigh aboard the Train Of The Stars…

Santa Fe’s All-Pullman Streamliner Super Chief… Janet Leigh aboard the Train Of The Stars…

Star of Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO, Janet Leigh is ready to board the famous SUPER CHIEF and Virginia Leith, star of A KISS BEFORE DYING shows us the all-Pullman train during the 1950s in a wonderful promotional film. Even the characters from TV’s MAD MEN could have been seen aboard the train all through the 1960s. The train was one of the last luxury streamliners lasting until Amtrak took over the nation’s passenger train system.

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The SUPER CHIEF dining car in the 1960s. Very much TV’s MAD MEN. Luxury like this will never be seen aboard a train again…

Virginia Leith, 20th Century Fox star of “A Kiss Before Dying”, did this fun film on the Super Chief – very retro and very 1950s. 

All the stars “sailed” abroad the Santa Fe’s All-Pullman deluxe Super Chief between Los Angeles and Chicago. Regular passenger lists would include Janet Leigh, Jimmy Durante, Rosalind Rusell, Zero Mostel, Bing Crosby, Margaret Truman, Gloria Swanson, Alan Ladd, Kirk Douglas, Clark Gabel, Billy Wilder, Joan Crawford and on and on.

Janet Leigh did a major fashion layout aboard the new Super Chief in the 1950s.   

(Left: Passengers in the Pleasure Dome Car) The Super Chief was one of the named passenger trains and the flagship of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. It was often referred to as “The Train of the Stars” because of the many celebrities who traveled on the streamliner between Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles, California.

The Super Chief (assigned train Nos. 17 & 18) was the first Diesel-powered, all-Pullman sleeping car train in America, and it eclipsed the Chief as Santa Fe’s standard bearer. The extra-fare Super Chief-1 commenced its maiden run from Dearborn Station in Chicago on May 12, 1936. Just over a year later, in May, 1937 the much-improved Super Chief-2 traversed the 2,227.3 miles (3,584.5 kilometers) from Los Angeles over recently upgraded tracks in 36 hours and 49 minutes, averaging 60 miles/hour overall, and often reaching 100 miles/hour.

The SUPER CHIEF stops at Albuquerque, New Mexico in the 1960s – half way between the Los Angeles and Chicago.  Right in the middle of the “Mad Men” era.  Passengers dressed – it was really first class. 

From that day forward the Super Chief set a new standard for luxury rail travel in America. With only one set of equipment, the train initially operated but once a week from both Chicago and Los Angeles. However, at the height of its popularity, and with added equipment, the trains of the Super Chief made daily departures from both ends of the line. Adding to the train’s mystique were its gourmet meals and Hollywood clientele.

The SUPER CHIEF dining car was first class – including finger bowls.  Excellent cuisine was prepared aboard – from prime steaks to fresh trout to caviar.  Tables were covered with starched linen, highly polished silver, specially designed china and glassware.  The steward supervised the onboard restaurant and attentive waiters provided top service.  There were no microwaves or people in tank-tops.  

Direct competitors to the Super Chief during its lifetime were the City of Los Angeles, a streamlined passenger train jointly operated by the Chicago and North Western Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad, and (to a lesser extent) the Golden State, a streamlined passenger train jointly operated by the Rock Island and Southern Pacific railroads.

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The Turquoise Room – private dining aboard the SUPER CHIEF for the stars… 

The Santa Fe Super Chief was one of the last passenger trains in the United States to carry an all-Pullman consist; only the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Broadway Limited and the Illinois Central’s Panama Limited survived longer. The train maintained its legendary high level of service until the end of Santa Fe passenger operations on May 1, 1971.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ON THE SUPER CHIEF FROM NEW YORK SOCIAL DIARY…

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About Michael L. Grace

MICHAEL L. GRACE is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. SNOOPY continues to be one of the most produced shows (amateur & stock) in America/Worldwide and has had long running productions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and in London's West End. There are over 100 individual productions every year. He has written movies for TV, including the award-winning thriller LADY KILLER, various pilots and developed screenplays for Kevin Costner and John Travolta. Besides co-writing and co-producing SNOOPY, he wrote and produced the one-man play KENNEDY. He produced P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD by pulitzer prize winning author James Kirkwood. He wrote the stage thriller FINAL CUT which had productions in the UK, South Africa and Australia. His one-man play, KENNEDY - THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH, was developed for HBO and has starred Andrew Stevens, Gregory Harrison and Joseph Bottoms. He has recently been involved in European productions with CLT-UFA, Europe's leading commercial television and radio broadcaster. He wrote MOWs THE DOLL COLLECTION, THE BOTTOM LINE and LAST WITNESS for German television. While in college and graduate school he worked as a foreign correspondent for COMBAT, the famous leftwing Paris daily, and as a travel writer. He visited more than 50 countries. He struggled as an actor, then joined the enemy and entered the training program at William Morris. He became a publicist and worked for Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, at Paramount and MGM. He followed with a brief stint as a story executive, working in the frantic horror genre period of the early 80s and wrote THE UNSEEN. He went onto write for episodic television and develop series pilots. He was a continuing writer on such series such as LOVE BOAT, PAPER DOLLS, and KNOTS LANDING. He developed screenplays for such major award winning directors as Nicolas Meyers, Tony Richardson and J. Lee Thompson. He has written for all the major networks and studios. He has been hired numerous times as a script doctor, doing many uncredited rewrites on TV movies and features. He is currently writing A PERSON OF INTEREST, a thriller novel, and, IT'S THE LOVE BOAT... AND HOW IT CHANGED CRUISING BY SHIP a non-fiction book dealing with how the hit TV series as a major cultural phenomenon and altered the style of cruising by ship. He was raised in Los Angeles. He attended St. Paul's, USC and the Pasadena Playhouse. He received a B.A from San Francisco State University where he majored in theatre arts and minored in creative writing. He is listed as a SFSU leading alumni. He also apprenticed at ACT - The American Conservatory Theatre. For a brief period he had intentions of becoming an Episcopal(Anglican) priest and attended seminary at Kelham Theological College in the UK. When "the calling" wasn't there, he left seminary and did graduate work at the American University of Beirut. He has guest lectured at USC, UC San Diego, McGill, Univ. of London and the Univ. of Texas on the business aspects of making a living and surviving as a writer, focusing on development hell, in the Hollywood entertainment industry. Grace is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, the Dramatist Guild and former regional chairman of the Steamship Historical Society of America. He resides in Palm Springs.

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