Tag Archives: Dashiell Hammett

This week in Literature and Arts

February 13, 2000: The last original Peanuts strip is published hours after creator Charles Schulz succumbs to colon cancer at 77. Schulz’s contract with United Features prevented another artist from taking over Peanuts after his passing. Recycled strips continue to run in more than 2000 daily newspapers.

In the recent wildfires that devastated California, Schulz’s house–full of original drawings and memorabilia–was destroyed.

February 14, 1930: Knopf publishes The Maltese Falcon in revised novel form. American pulp fiction becomes literature.

Still the greatest Valentine to hardboiled mystery hounds

Monster kids, give it up for Kevin McCarthy, born February 15, 1914 in Seattle WA. Met him at ChillerCon ages ago and he was a pretty nice guy. So many big and small screen appearances, but, of course, he’ll always be Dr. Miles Bennell in Don Siegel’s 1956 adaptation of Jack Finney’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (terrific book, too).

And remember to eat your vegetables before you become one!

February 17, 1939: “Out of the stirring glory of Kipling’s India they roar…”:RKO releases director George Stevens’s Gunga Din, based (very loosely) on Rudyard Kipling’s poem. Actor Reginald Sheffield appears briefly as Kipling, who, for inexplicable reasons, is afield with the British army. Still among the greatest action films.

February 17, 1975: John Lennon bids the world adieu with the release of Rock ‘n’ Roll, an album of 50s cover songs that lured him into music as a teen. The album’s jacket sports a photo of 20-something greaser Lennon leaning in the doorway of Jagerpassage 1, Wohlwillstrasse 22 in Hamburg, Germany.

The picture was shot in April 1961 by 21 year old Jurgen Vollmer when the band was playing at the Top Ten Club. The ghostly figures on the sidewalk were Paul, George, and Stu Sutcliffe, who was on the verge of leaving the band to pursue his art studies. Alas, Stu would be dead within weeks from a brain hemorrhage.

Before running a roll of monochrome 120 through his tripoded Rolli, Vollmer had Paul, George, and Stu practice walking to find a speed that left their pointed boots sharp and their bodies blurry (although successful, the pic, ironically, was cropped for the cover).

Rock ‘n’ Roll was Lennon’s last album release for five years. Goodbye, John.

February 18, 1885: Publisher Chatto & Windus/Charles L. Webster And Company releases Mart Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in the United States after the book debuted in England the previous year.

Happy birthday to Jack Palance, born Volodymyr Palahniuk, February 18, 1919, in Hazelton PA. He briefly boxed professionally before enlisting in the Army Air Corps during World War II. Later, he understudied for Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire and eventually took over the Kowalski role.

Palance’s sharp features reportedly served as Jack Kirby’s inspiration when creating the Darkseid character in his Fourth World universe (whodathunkit!).

In his autobiography, Billy Crystal talked about working with Palance on City Slickers. Palance apparently had a huge head and had to hold it a certain way for the camera so it looked normal.

Michael Rogers (mermsr@optimum.net) 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.

This week in Literature and Arts

Happy 90th birthday to William Kennedy, born January 16, 1928 in Albany, NY. Don’t know if he has a new book coming. The last one was in 2012, but he takes his time.

Happy 70th birthday to musician and horror/sf director extraordinaire John Carpenter, born January 16, 1948 in Carthage, NY. Halloween, The Fog, The Thing, Escape from NY, his films are loads of fun.

Monster kids, give up for Carl Laemmle, born January 17, 1867 in Laupheim, Germany. Carl opened a string of nickelodeons in New York in the early 1900s, later advancing into making the films himself by founding the Independent Motion Picture Company in New York. Once the business gained momentum, he moved out to California reorganizing it as Universal Studios in 1912.

Carl played an important role in many of the great horror films from the Chaney silents through Frankenstein and the Big D as well as hundreds of other movies of every ilk. A true film pioneer.

Salute, Carl.

Happy birthday to Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay in Louisville, Kentucky January 17, 1942. Forever the Greatest.

January 18, 1985: The world meets the weird and wonderful Joel and Ethan Coen with the release of their first feature film, Blood Simple. The brothers have done lots of solid films since then (a few truly strange ones, too), but Blood Simple remains arguably their grittiest work. If you haven’t seen it in awhile reacquaint yourself. Good stuff.

January 18, 1952: Following a series of strokes that left him incapacitated and mostly hospitalized for more than a year, Curly Howard dies at 48. He is buried at Home of Peace Memorial Park, the Jewish cemetery outside LA. Shemp is there, too.

January 18, 1936: Rudyard Kipling dies of complications following surgery for a perforated ulcer. He was 70. His ashes are interred in the Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey.

Happy 208th birthday to the father of the American detective mystery, Edgar Allan Poe, born in Boston, MA, January 19, 1809.

Is it just me, or does this guy have a huge, oddly shaped head? And the right  side of his mustache is longer than the left.

Birthday greetings to Colin Clive, born January 20, 1900 to English parents in France (his father was an army officer). A terrible leg injury dashed his own plans for a military career and sent him toward the stage. Alas, it also drove him to heavy drinking and smoking leading to tuberculosis that killed him at only 37.

January 21, 1946: The Fat Man debuts on ABC radio. Although the detective drama was credited to Dashiell Hammett, producer Mannie Rosenberg performed most of the heavy lifting. Starring J. Scott Smart as the title character, the series ran until 1951, making the jump to the big screen in a William Castle-directed feature film starring Smart the same year.

Michael Rogers (mermsr@optimum.net) 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.

This week in Literature and Arts

Happy 140th birthday to three-time Pulitzer winner Carl Sandburg, a dean of American poetry as well as a journalist and biographer, born January 6, 1878 in Galesburg, Illinois.

Birthday greetings to Sherlock Holmes, born January 6, 1854, presumably in England but Conan Doyle didn’t specify. Nice to see the character enjoying a renaissance.

Happy 83rd birthday to Elvis, the Tupelo, Mississippi Flash, born January 8, 1935. He’s 12 or 13 in this pic, about when his mother bought him a guitar as a birthday present. He wanted a rifle or a bike. Moms always know.

Hail to The King, baby!

Happy birthday to Soupy Sales, born Milton Supman in Franklinton, NC, January 8, 1926. Throw a pie in someone’s face today. You know you want to do it—it’ll feel really good!

January 10, 1961: After a lifetime of smoking, Dashiell Hammett dies of lung cancer at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He was 66 and hadn’t published in years.

He’d served in both world wars permitting burial at Arlington. Visited him there a few years ago.

January 12, 1966: Batman debuts on ABC with the episode “Hi Diddle Riddle.” The series lasted three seasons, wrapping March 14, 1968.

If you were a kid back then, this show was such a big deal. Yeah, it’s campy, clichéd, etc., but it also sported many Hollywood veterans elevating the material while enjoying a career boost and a new audience. Everyone looked like they were having fun (Adam West later revealed that he and others were stoned while filming it, which helps).

Remarkably, 52 years later at least two cable stations I receive air this daily, and I’ll bet it’s still broadcast all over the world—even in the shithole countries!

Happy birthday to Jack London, born January 12, 1876 in San Francisco. Along with being of the early 20th century’s literary superstars, he was a solid photographer. He burned out fast, was dead at 40.

January 13, 1941: Following surgery for a perforated ulcer, James Joyce dies at 58 years old. He’s buried at the Fluntern Cemetery outside Zurich, Switzerland.

January 13, 1968: Johnny Cash performs at California’s Folsom Prison. The legend is that among the yardbirds attending the show was Merle Haggard. Don’t know if it’s true. What is true is that Cash was stoned out of his mind. Nonetheless, the fabulous recording edited together from the two shows won Cash the Country Music Association’s Album of the Year award, and 50 years later it’s still good stuff. One of the great, great live recordings.

January 14, 1957: Throat cancer takes Humphrey Bogart at 57. Booze and smokes. What a waste. All the films that weren’t.

Michael Rogers (mermsr@optimum.net) 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.

This week in Literature and Arts

July 12, 1946: The Adventures of Sam Spade debuts on radio. The program ran until the early 1950s, jumping from ABC to NBC and finishing its run at CBS (more than 200 episodes all together). Howard Duff initially played Spade, but other actors assumed the role on the various networks.

Creator Dashiell Hammett’s name apparently was dropped from the credits when he was suspected of being a closet commie (how utterly ridiculous does this sound now?).

July 16, 1951: Little Brown publishes The Catcher in the Rye.

If Holden still were around today would he be on Facebook, would he tweet selfies, or would he think it was all phony?



Michael Rogers (mermsr@optimum.net) 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.

This week in Literature and Arts

Happy 158th birthday to the great Arthur Conan Doyle, doctor, author, spiritualist, and inadvertent father of forensic science, born in Edinburgh, Scotland, May 22, 1859.

Most readers have introduced themselves to Holmes and Watson, but if you’re unfamiliar with his adventure stories, try them. The Lost World and other Professor Challenger stories are great fun. Stay away from his romances though, just awful.

Arthur, old son, I love you with my heart and soul.

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