Who created Russian Roulette?


The Russian Roulette is a deadly game that was popularized in movies and tv. Essentially, each participant takes turns squeezing the trigger of a revolver pointed at their head, which only has one round inside. But who created Russian Roulette? According to historians, it was invented in the 19th century, when Russian correctional officers were forcing inmates to play and bet on the effect. Continue reading to find the foundation story with this life-threatening game.

Disclaimer: Be advised that the information in this article is for entertainment purposes Only. Do not try to replicate such a thing in the home. If you'd like to play a casino game of chance, you can look at certainly one of our roulette bonuses, which offer a safer alternative to the Russian Roulette.

The origin of Russian Roulette

Even though this dangerous game can be traced to the 18th and 19th century Russia, the precise moment it had been invented continues to be unclear. Nevertheless , historians correlate the invention of this life-threatening game with the rapid rise in popularity of revolver guns in the 1800s. Here are the earliest mentions of this deadly game in literature:

Lermontov – “Hero of Our Time”

This life-threatening game of chance was first mentioned in 1840 within the last chapter of the novel “Hero of Our Time, ” compiled by the Russian poet Lermontov. Since the author was a Russian officer who served in the Caucasus, a big part of the facts and stories are autobiographical, meaning that the story may have some real background behind it.

If these truth is right, the story fits very well, as this life-threatening game spread among officers on the Caucasus in the first 1800s, during Lermontov’s time. However , he never actually calls it Russian Roulette, and the gun involved was a flintlock pistol rather than the commonly used revolver. The officer takes the gamble, however the gun doesn’t fire, since the flash powder was wet. Lucky, huh?

Biography of general Mihail Skobelev

Yet another obscure reference to this life-threatening roulette game was present in the biography of general Skobelev, who lived between 1843-1882 and fought many Russian-Turkish wars in the 1870s. Skobelev was aware that officers were playing this risky game, and unofficially approved it as a display of bravery.

However , he was forced to punish it severely because of a particular order from emperor Alexander II who asked him to demote any officer involved in this game to the soldier rank. Getting demoted was considered a shameful action since officers were mostly nobility, and soldiers were mainly peasants.

Georges Surdes – “Russian Roulette”

The term Russian roulette was made public in a short story published by a Swiss author named Georges Surdes, that has been published in 1937 in Collier’s Illustrated Weekly, the absolute most influential literary magazines at the time. While Surdes isn’t the main one who created Russian roulette, he coined the term, inspired by the French Foreign legion romantic stories he used to read as a child.

His novel tells us the story of a German soldier that attempts to hide his Russian partner’s suicide from a gunshot. In a letter to his superior, he explains that the lethal roulette game caused the death of his comrade. This game was a common form of gambling among tsarist army officers during their last days of serving in WWI.

In his story, Surdes tells us that the Russian would just take out their revolvers, remove one of the rounds, spin the barrel and squeeze the trigger with the gun pointed at their head. By the end of the story, the German soldier plays a variant which features one bullet within the barrel instead of five.

Even today, it remains unclear why Surdes chose to change the overall game rules and thought it will be simpler to play with one bullet instead of five. Nevertheless , grounds could possibly be that having only one out of 6 chances of survival isn’t a good deal for anyone. The one bullet version may be the the one that remained and became part of pop culture at the end of the 20th century.

notable deaths

Believe it or not, Surdes’ story is responsible for the death of over 2000 people. After his novel got reposted in Fiction Parade & Golden Book Magazine, many people started playing it. The first known victim is a 21-year-old boy called Thomas Markley, who shot himself in the head.

But did you know that there have been also celebrities who lost their lives to the lethal roulette game? Below, we’ve made a list with famous people that died playing this game:

Johnny Ace

John Marshal Alexander Junior was a famous blues musician in america. He shot himself throughout the 1954 Christmas Day after finishing a yearlong tour during a show that he was performing at the City Auditorium in Houston. Although the eyewitnesses said that he was playing with his 32 Cal revolver under the influence of alcohol, the police reports stated that the cause of death was a Russian roulette game.

John-Erik Hexum

The cast of a famous TELEVISION series called “Cover-up” witnessed a really tragic accident. In just one of the breaks between filming, John-Erik Hexum was playing with a revolver loaded with blanks in the backstage. He pointed the gun at his head and was pretending to play the deadly game of chance.

Even though no projectile came through the barrel, the shockwave created by the 44 Cal Magnum was so strong that it fractured his skull and bone pieces flew through his head. Hexum was immediately taken to the Er simply to be pronounced brain dead.

The Cumming Family

While filming an episode of the famous BBC series “Who Do You Think You Are?” in 2010, British actor Alan Cumming made a terrifying discovery about his grandfather. Based on the investigating reporter’s findings, the actor’s mother’s father served in the Queen’s Cameron Highlanders in Malaya. He was considered to have passed on due to a discharge that occurred while he was cleaning his revolver.

The data the reporter found while digging the actor’s genealogy proves that the reason for his grandfather’s death was the roulette gun game, that has been usual for British soldiers.

Russian Roulette in the Pop Culture

This life-threatening game of chance made its first public appearance in pop culture in 1937, and it has ver quickly become a vital part of it. Generally, the definition of is used as a metaphor for an action that is not worth the risk. You can find references in cartoons, songs, books, and artwork, but the most crucial popularity boost comes from Hollywood productions. Let’s check out the most used ones:

  • Unfaithfully Yours – 1948;
  • Looney Tunes – 1951;
  • Smiles of a Summer Night – 1955;
  • One Eight Seven – 1997;
  • Lady Gaga “Poker Face” – 2009;
  • Don’t Fear the Reaper – 2012.

the deer hunter

The most representative Russian Roulette scene is the one portrayed in the deer hunter, a movie directed by Michael Cimino that was released in 1978. The film tells the story of three friends, Michael. Steven and Nick, who enrolled in the US Army in 1968 and were provided for the Vietnam battlefield.

The soldiers are later captured by Vietcong guards and forced to play a three-bullet game of roulette. After literally dodging the bullet three times in a row, Michael manages to shoot the guards, which is how they free themselves from captivity. Many critics say that this scene is one of the best representations of the metaphor for the senseless violence, often associated with war.

After successfully escaping the Vietnamese people, many people would are expecting the movie to truly have a happy ending. But as it happens that Nick was traumatized by his war experience and stayed in Vietnam. When Michael returns to simply take his friend home, he finds him in a bar generating an income out of betting on the deadly roulette. Both main characters engage in a deadly gun game again, while Nick is trying to save his mates from suicide. The gun eventually goes off, killing Nick and leaving the audience horrified.

Aside from being truly a Hollywood masterpiece, this movie also sparked controversies about how precisely the US army was treated during the Vietnam war. Nevertheless , army officials managed to dodge this media bullet by declaring that there aren’t battlefield reports that prove war prisoners were forced to play this lethal game to entertain Vietnamese soldiers.

Although it continues to be uncertain if the events in the movie took place, “The Deer Hunter” remains one of the best pieces of art that introduced this gun game in to the main-stream. While Cimino isn’t the one who invented Russian roulette, his movie is, to this day, the most referenced title when the history of this deadly game is brought up.

The less-lethal way to play

While some might agree that Russian roulette is not the same without a gun, people have discovered less deadly alternatives that don’t involve losing your life.

There are certain services and products available that simulate the action of the game without the chance for killing anyone. For example , you will get a revolver that uses balloons instead of bullets. Everytime you squeeze the trigger, more air goes in the balloon. In the course of time, the balloon will explode, and the absolute most dangerous thing that will happen to you goes slightly deaf for a few minutes.

Others have invented drinking games, like the one where “the gun” is a bowl of six shot glasses (representing the chamber), and one of the shots is straight vodka. There's also child-friendly variants of the overall game, which involve pulling marbles out of a bag or rolling the dice to see who gets the bullet, which essentially means losing.

Just in case you’re considering playing the first version of the overall game with your friends, please keep in mind that the legislation generally considers it a genuine risk to life. Many of the surviving players were convicted of murder.

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On a lighter note, remember that, statistically speaking, 5 out of 6 people enjoy Russian Roulette. Nevertheless , this isn’t entirely true as the survivors will be held accountable for just about any death. So that you wouldn’t be able to take pleasure in the money you’ve made, because you would be straight away arrested. Develop this article helped you realize that this foolish game is more of a metaphor rather than a way to gamble.

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