THE SUPER CHIEF – “THE TRAIN OF THE STARS” from Clark Gable to Frank Sinatra…
Super Chief dining car in the late 1930s.

THE SUPER CHIEF – “THE TRAIN OF THE STARS” from Clark Gable to Frank Sinatra…

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From the late 1930s to the 1950s, Hollywood adopted the Super Chief as the primary mode of travel as well as the subject of novels and motion pictures. In MGM’s The Hucksters, a brutal satire on the ad industry, Clark Gable says to another character: “Only talent agents and kept woman ride the Chief. But theSuper Chief is an exclusive club for New York – Hollywood commuters.”

The Super Chief was Santa Fe’s premiere all room Pullman sleeping car train that use to run daily from Chicago to Los Angeles. The Chief was Santa Fe’s other express extra all-Pullman fare train.

But for Hollywood royalty – the Super Chief beat the Chief.

The SUPER CHIEF in Pasadena, California after arriving from Chicago.

The SUPER CHIEF in Pasadena, California after arriving from Chicago.

The Super Chief in “Warbonnet” colors calls at Pasadena just before heading into Los Angeles Union Station. To the right of the palm trees, above the engine, we can see the seventh floor of the Castle Green. The Moorish Colonial and Spanish Hotel was across the street from Pasadena’s Santa Fe Station. Pasadena was the “gateway” to the San Fernando Valley, Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

1950 Super Chief promotional film starring Virginia Leith (later 20th Century Fox contract star that starred in “A Kiss Before Dying” with Joanna Woodward and Robert Wagner).

The streamliner became an “extra-fare, extra-exclusive, super deluxe commuter special that made Toot Shor’s handy to Romanoff’s, that connects Broadway with Sunset Boulevard.”

Super Chief dining car in the late 1930s.

Super Chief dining car in the late 1930s.

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Super Chief dining car in the late 1930s…

Passenger for passenger, the Super Chief was one of the most costly trains on earth. When the train became a daily operation, Santa Fe needed five complete sets of trains. At the height of its deluxe service, from the late 1940s until the mid-1950s, equipment included a diner, the Pleasure Dome Lounge car, an observation lounge, and a third lounge, along with sleeping cars.

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The total load for all four sections in operation at the same time was about 500 passengers. It was one of fastest trains in the world. Onboard crews included train engineers, conductors and brakemen, Pullman conductors, Pullman porters, dining car stewards, waiters, cooks, bartenders, lounge attendants, along with cleaning crews at both ends of the line and maintenance crews en route. At times, during the trains history, there were barbers, maids and valets.

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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"…