We are pleased to introduce a new (and improved) column for 2017 on No Shelf Required: This Week in (the history of) Literature and Arts. The idea is simple: each week, writer and photographer Michael Rogers (with a long history in book publishing and reporting) highlights what happened in the world of literature, publishing, and the arts that week in his own words (and through his own pictures). It’s a trip down memory lane of sorts, and it’s meant to both inform and entertain. Enjoy this week’s (slightly late) compilation (and do follow Michael’s phenomenal ‘it happened today’ daily updates on Facebook).—Ed.
Happy birthday to J.D. Salinger, born in New York City January 1, 1919. Crazy bastard but who doesn’t love the guy.
January 1, 1953: Hank Williams dies at 29 from drug and alcohol abuse. Terrible waste.
Alright, sci-fi geeks, let’s wish a happy birthday to Isaac Asimov, born January 2, 1920 in Petrovichi, Russia but raised from age 3 in Brooklyn. I think he started growing the sideburns in kindergarten.
Birthday greetings to J.R.R. Tolkien, born January 3, 1892 in South Africa. Before moving to England at age 3, he received a bite from a large, nasty spider. I guess it stayed with him. Pat yourself on the back if you liked him before it was cool.
Happy birthday to Sir George Martin, born in London January 3, 1926. A handful have tried to claim the title of the “Fifth Beatle,” but it only applies to him.
January 3, 1841″ Herman Melville, 21, departs on his first whaling voyage aboard the New Bedford whaler “Acushnet.” By the time the bark reached Polynesia, Melville and many of the crew had discovered that whaling was the most disgusting, back-breaking job imaginable and staged a mutiny, fleeing to the jungle and taken in by headhunters (what’s Plan B, boys). The mutineers soon enough were captured and jailed. He recorded it all in his first novel “Typee.”
January 4, 1967: After several years as the house band at LA’s Whiskey-a-Go-Go, The Doors hit the main stream with the release of their self-titled debut album.
Happy 86th birthday to character actor extraordinaire Robert Duvall, born January 5, 1930 in San Diego, CA. Boo Radley, Tom Hagen, Ned Pepper, Dr Watson, Bull Meechum, Mac Sledge, and Gus McCrae, Duvall has played a handful of literary characters—along with countless other types—with equal aplomb. One of the greats, he’s still working (and survived 2016)! Enjoy your birthday , Bob!
Earlier mentioned Robert Duvall as among the great characters actors, well another fav is Clancy Brown, born in Urbana, OH, this day in 1959. Although he has appeared in numerous films, you probably know his remarkable voice better than his face.
You’ve seen Clancy as the brutal head guard in The Shawshank Redemption as well as the immortal villain in Highlander, also as a brutal bastard, but you’ve also have heard him in countless animated works playing Lex Luthor and others in DC stuff as well as a handful of good/bad guys in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars series, etc., etc., but his piece de resistance is Mr. Krabs in SpongeBob! Have a good one, Clancy!
Rise, put your hands over your hearts, and wish a happy anniversary to the mighty “Frampton Comes Alive,” released by A&M Records January 6, 1976 (that’s more than—GULP—40 years ago, you broken down old bastards)!
With his abundant curls, Frampton was a heartthrob for many young ladies, but 40 years later he’s as bald as an ape’s ass—initially I thought of posting Peter’s current pic but it would just be wrong. Live with your memories. And to Mr. Frampton, salute!
Happy 82nd birthday to Elvis, born in a two-room shotgun shack in Tupelo, Mississippi, January 8, 1935.
He went off to hillbilly heaven so young (42) that you have to wonder what path he would have taken had he’d survived. Would he simply have continued as a Vegas act in his white leather jumpsuits performing the same songs over and over by rote like Sinatra? Would he have retired from performing and become minister of his own church?
…would he have been president (“From Graceland to the White House, Make the Big E the Big P!”)? He’s got my vote! Hail to the King, baby!
Happy birthday to Soupy Sales, born Milton Supman in Franklinton, NC, January 8, 1926. I would have bet my last buck that Soupy was a New York kid. By osmosis, 1-day belated birthday greetings to Frank Natasi (1923), a comic and 1950s kid show staple who joined with Soupy to voice White Fang, Black Tooth, and Pookie.
In the pic below you can see Frank with the White Fang costume, which consists entirely of a long, fuzzy glove tipped with claws cut from black felt. Probably was made in 15 minutes from a buck’s worth of materials, but it worked! Soupy created the White Fang character while serving in the navy during WWII. The legend goes he’d use the PA system aboard the USS Randall to perform quick comedy routines between himself and Fang.