Anthony Pratt Article - NYT News Service - 1996
 
 


This article is basically the same as the Associated Press Article (A. Pratt Article #1), but has further insights:

Final Clue mystery solved; it wasn't Miss Scarlet or Colonel Mustard
by Robert McG. Thomas Jr.

A British law clerk who whiled away his time on World War II fire patrol in England dreaming up a board version of a popular parlor game died in such obscurity two years ago, it was learned last week, that not even Colonel Mustard or Miss Scarlet had a clue.

They, of course, along with Professor Plum, Mrs. Peacock, Mrs. White and Mr. Green, owe their very existence to the clerk, Anthony E. Pratt, who linked them together in a nine-room Victorian mansion as the perennial murder suspects in the classic game Clue.

Pratt, who was 90 and had dropped out of sight a decade ago, died in 1994 near Birmingham England. But this did not become general knowledge until after Waddington's, the company that first published the game in 1948, issued a public appeal to find its creator. Ceremonies were being planned to commemorate the impending 150 millionth worldwide sale of the game, known in Britain as Cluedo.

What the British press termed Clue's final mystery was solved when the company, which had set up a hotline, received a call from Gillian Lewis, the superintendent of the Bromsgrove Municipal Cemetery. Pratt had been buried there in April 1994.

As Pratt once explained to a British newspaper, he was walking his beat as a fire warden in Leeds in 1943, musing on a pastime that had been popular a few years earlier, when he had a brainstorm.

"Between the wars," he said, "all the bright young things would congregate in each other's homes for parties at weekends. We'd play a stupid game called Murder, where guests crept up on each other in corridors and the victim would shriek and fall on the floor."

Since then, the murder mystery that is tat the heart of the game has been solved tens of millions of times. Players, who are dealt cards representing suspects, weapons and rooms, take turns rolling a die to move from room to room, summoning suspects and weapons to determine by process of elimination which of the 324 possible combinations of 6 suspects, 6 weapons and 9 rooms figured in the murder.

In the end, the obscurity of Pratt's death might be attributed to the standards of headline violence his game helped establish.

Pratt, a widower who is survived by a daughter, Marcia, was not, for example, bludgeoned to death by Mr. Green or Mrs. Peacock with the candlestick in the ballroom, billiard room, or study.

Instead, the man who made mayhem into a children's game died peacefully of natural causes in a nursing home.


www.TheArtofMurder.com