This week in Literature and Arts

Happy birthday to social novelist, poet, and artist Victor Hugo, born February 26, 1802 in Besancon, France. Thanks to Les Mis, his work still is enjoyed all over the world, and, perhaps, has inspired a few to read him. Could be worse.

Happy 86th birthday to Johnny Cash, born into a farming family in Kingsland, Arkansas, February 26, 1932.

Birthday greetings to John Steinbeck, born February 27, 1902 in Salinas, CA.

Maybe the great American novelist.

Happy birthday to the versatile Robert Lowell, born March 1, 1917 in Boston. His schoolboy friends gave him the nickname Cal for Caligula. Must have been an unusual kid.

March 2, 1933: As the Great Depression drags on, 50,000 New Yorkers crowd Radio City and the neighboring Roxy theater on 49th St. from morning til night to be the first crop to see King Kong before it opened nationwide April 7.

At Radio City the film is accompanied by a stage show called the Jungle Review. Tickets cost 35 cents for a morning show and 50 cents for a matinee, while the price jumped to 75 cents for an evening performance.

Happy 85th anniversary, big guy! You’re beautiful and still “the thrill of a lifetime.”

Not coincidentally, March 2 also is the birthday of Willis O’Brien, the stop-motion animation pioneer who brought Kong to life. Obie was born in Oakland, CA in 1886 (That’s him below on the left talking to producer Merian C. Cooper with the full-size Kong head).

Michael Rogers ( is a Jesse H. Neal Gold Award-winning freelance writer, editor, reviewer, and photographer. He is also former Media Editor and audiobook reviewer at Library Journal.