Tag Archives: The Beatles

This week in Literature and Arts

Happy 190th birthday to Henrik Ibsen, born March 20, 1828 in Skien, Norway. He wrote many of theater’s greatest works and influenced god knows how many other playwrights and novelists, yet never won the Nobel, despite three nominations. Must have been the hair (look at that mop)!


Happy birthday to Chico, born Leonard Marx in New York City, March 22, 1887.

That’sa fine, eh!


March 22, 1976: In the Tunisian desert, George Lucas begins rolling film on his low-budget, kids’ space-fantasy film, The Star Wars. Turned out pretty good! Attaboy, George!


A happy 87th birthday to William Shatner, born into a Jewish immigrant family in Montreal, Canada, March 22, 1931.

His career has been so overshadowed by Kirk that you forget all the other fun stuff he did before.


March 22, 1963: Please Please Me, The Beatles’ debut album, is released by Parlophone Records in the UK. All those 50s guys who invented rock’n’roll didn’t know it, but they were done.


Speaking of the Beatles, let’s wish a happy birthday to character actor Wilfrid Bramble (Paul’s spirited grandfather in A Hard Day’s Night), born in Dublin, Ireland, March 22, 1912.


March 24, 1874 : Harry Houdini is born Erik Weisz, a rabbi’s son, in Budapest. His family emigrated to America when he was 4, initially settling in Wisconsin then later New York (where else!). Erik was a champion cross-country runner as a kid (great lungs!) and began studying magic in his early teens.

The name Harry, apparently, is a twisted, Americanized form of Eric, and Houdini allegedly came from the French magician Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin. Harry began his professional career performing slight-of-hand card manipulations in circuses but bombed at it. A colleague advised him to turn his passion toward escape tricks. Good choice.


Happy birthday to Steve McQueen, born March 24, 1930 in Beech Grove, Indiana. He had a tempestuous early life, bouncing between assorted relatives with whom he clashed before his antisocial behavior landed him in reform school. He did a stint in the marine corp armored division, but—ahem—”tanked” at it before finding acting.

He naturally rebelled against authority, a personality trait that served his film persona well but made him the bane of many directors and producers.

Forever The King of Cool.


Everyone join me in wishing a happy 99th birthday—woohoo!—to poet, publisher, and bookseller Lawrence Ferlinghetti, born March 24, 1919 in Bronxville, NY.

Happy birthday, Lawrence! Make it to 100, man!


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

Monster kids, join me in birthday wishes to the late, great zombie king George Romero, born February 4, 1940 in da Bronx. How many filmmakers can say they invented a genre? Attaboy, George!


February 5, 1957: Bill Haley and the Comets bring American rock ‘n’ roll to the UK and beyond, landing in Southampton to launch their first overseas tour. Paul McCartney, Pete Townsend, Billy J Kramer, and other British school kids, who in a few years would dominate pop music, all credit attending Haley’s shows as a defining moment in their decisions to pursue music careers.


Happy birthday to artist, poet, Beat Generation titan, hop head, and all around crazy bastard William S. Burroughs, born February 5, 1914 in St. Louis, Missouri. Old Bull Lee.


Remembering Jack “King” Kirby, who died of heart failure February 6, 1984. He was 76.

At the 2008 New York Comic Con Stan Lee said that Kirby, “was a born storyteller…he never ran out of ideas, and I stole as many of them as I could.”


Happy birthday to literary superstar and social avenger Charles Dickens, born February 7, 1812 in Portsmouth, England.

Somebody hold him while I fetch a scissors and trim that muskrat on his chin.


Big 86th birthday wishes to John Williams, born February 8, 1932 in Floral Park, Queens. Only Walt Disney has garnered more Oscar nominations. It is impossible to imagine JAWS, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Superman, and, especially, Star Wars without Williams’s scores. His music is practically a character in these films. It’s hard to pick a favorite.


February 8, 1828: Jules Verne is born in the French sea-coast town of Nantes. He studied to be a lawyer like his father, but quit to pursue a career writing plays, poems, and novels. I believe he is among the top five authors translated into other languages.

With Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Mysterious Island, Around the World in Eighty Days, Master of the World, From the Earth to the Moon and numerous similar titles in his bibliography, when it comes to old school science fiction-adventure stories, Jules rules! Try him!


February 9 1964: Two days after landing in America and playing a few gigs around the country, The Beatles appear on The Ed Sullivan Show. I swear I can remember seeing this. Thanks, Ed!


Happy 74th birthday to poet and Pulitzer-winning novelist Alice Walker, born February 9, 1944 in Putnam County, Georgia.


Happy 75th birthday to Jersey boy Joe Pesci, born in Newark February 9, 1943. His acting career began at five in theater productions and by ten he was on TV. Pesci has a remarkable ability to take similar characters and make one funny as hell (My Cousin Vinny) and the other scary as hell (Goodfellas/Casino).

Apparently, it’s true that he introduced childhood friend Frankie Valley to members of what became The Four Seasons, and the Goodfellas “I’m funny how” scene was adlibbed.

Looking forward to seeing Joe back onscreen with De Niro and Pacino in Scorsese’s The Irishman.


Remembering the great Frank Frazetta on what would have been his 90th birthday (born February 9, 1928 in Brooklyn).

Remarkably, after a stroke crippled his right arm, he taught himself to work left-handed—and the stuff was good! Who the hell does that?


Monster kids join me in birthday greetings to Lon Chaney Jr, born Creighton Tull Chaney, February 10, 1906 in Oklahoma City. Before being lured into acting after his famous father’s death, Chaney was successful in the plumbing and appliance businesses (“I bought a toaster from the Wolf Man!”).

I believe he is the only actor to play Frankenstein’s monster, the Mummy, and Dracula, but to most fans he’ll always be the Wolf Man.


Remembering Peter Benchley, who died from pulmonary fibrosis (scarred lungs), February 11, 2006 at age 65. I used to write him fan letters. He always wrote back. A good guy.


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

January 29, 1845: After wallowing in obscurity for years, Edgar Allan Poe is catapulted to literary stardom with the publication of The Raven in the New York Evening Mirror.


January 30, 1969: Although they knew it was over, the Beatles attempt to “get back” to their roots as a working rock band by performing on the roof of the Apple building at 3 Saville Row, London.

The 42-minute, nine-song set would be their last live performance together.

And then they were gone.


January 30, 1933: The Lone Ranger debuts on Detroit’s WXYZ radio with George Seaton voicing the title character and John Todd playing Tonto. Remarkably, the show ran until 1955. Even if you’re not a fan, 22 years (almost 3000 episodes) is an impressive run.

The legend is that the term “Kemosabe” used by Tonto to address the Ranger was the name of a summer camp owned by producer James Jewell’s father-in-law. Maybe, maybe not. The radio program spawned a series of books, comic books, a movie serial, a TV show, feature films, and mega merchandising.

Hi-Yo Greenbacks!


“If you want to read a book by a man who knows exactly what he is writing about and has written it marvelously well, read Appointment in Samarra,”.said Ernest Hemingway about John O’Hara, born January 31, 1905 in Pottsville, PA. Many people haven’t read him, but he’s damn good.

Matt Bruccoli swore that O’Hara was one of the greats. Believe him.


Happy birthday to the great John Ford, born John Martin Feeney in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, February 1, 1894.

Ford apparently had the odd habit of chewing the corners of handkerchiefs while he worked. He pocketed a new one every morning before leaving for location and after chomping on it all day while directing by the time he went home again he’d essentially eaten it!


February 2, 1882: John and May Joyce welcome the birth of their first child, James Augustine Aloysius Joyce, at 41 Brighton Square in Dublin’s Rathgar suburb. I’ll bet he was a real pip as a kid.


Birthday greetings to James Dickey, born February 2, 1923 in Atlanta. I met him once on a visit to the University of South Carolina not long before his death, but already he was losing his battle with cancer and had difficulty speaking. Still glad to have seen him.


Birthday greetings to Gertrude Stein, novelist, poet, patron of the arts, and den mother of the Lost Generation, born February 3, 1874 in Alleghany, PA.

From everything I’ve read, I imagine her to be a huge pain in the ass, but the one person I’ve ever talked to who met Stein said she was actually quite nice. I still bet she was a pill.


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

Star Wars geeks join me in 66th birthday greetings to Mark Hamill, born in Oakland, CA, September 25, 1951. Mark, I hope you have dialog in Ep. 8!

Here’s a bad pic from NYCC 2011.


Remembering Mary Astor, who died September 25, 1987, age 81. My son and I visited her grave last year in LA at Holy Cross Cemetery (not too, too far from John Ford). She was hard to find.

Forever Brigid O’Shaughnessy.


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This week in Literature and Arts

Happy birthday to Alfred Hitchcock, born August 13, 1899, in London. His films are still so much fun to watch.


August 15, 1965: Performing at Shea Stadium in Queens, NY, The Beatles set another precedent as the first band to play a sports arena.


August 16, 1977: Elvis Presley dies at 42 with enough fat in his arteries to grease a train, and the drugs in his blood would fuel a Grateful Dead tour.

“Like no one before, he let out a roar, and I just had to tag along.

Each night I went to bed with the sound in my head, and the dream was a song.

Big Train from Memphis, Big Train from Memphis,

Now it’s gone gone gone, gone gone gone.”

—John Fogerty, “Big Train (From Memphis)”

Hail to The King, baby!


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This week in Literature and Arts

August 7, 1934: The U.S. Court of Appeals upholds the lower court’s ruling that James Joyce’s novel Ulysses is art, not pornography, and eligible for sale in the United States.


August 8, 1969: At roughly 11:30 a.m. as a constable held traffic, photographer Iain Macmillan climbed a stepladder, focused his Hasselbad camera’s 50 mm lens closed down the aperture to f22 for great depth, and firing the shutter at 1/500th of a second shot six pictures of The Beatles walking away from EMI Studios crossing Abbey Road. The fifth exposure became the album cover.

Linda McCartney on the sidelines shot her own pix of the event.


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This week in Literature and Arts

July 29, 1954: “…that mad Baggins is off again” with Allen and Unwin’s publication of The Fellowship of the Ring. Hello Sam and Frodo!


July 29, 1965: HELP!, the Beatles second film with director Richard Lester, premiers at London’s Pavilion Theatre.


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This week in Literature and Arts

July 2, 1961: In the early morning hours, Ernest Hemingway, physically, mentally, and emotionally ravaged and knowing he is finished as an artist, places this shotgun’s muzzle in his mouth and meets death on his own terms. He was 61.


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This week in Literature and Arts

May 30, 1593: Christopher Marlowe is killed in a tavern fight over the bill. Despite that official coroner’s record, the facts surrounding his death remain suspicious.

Marlowe, along with Ingram Frizer, Nicholas Skeres, and Robert Poley, had been imbibing and when it came time to pay up, a disagreement occurred. Marlowe reportedly snatched Frizer’s dagger and wounded him. In the ensuing struggle the knife pierced Marlowe’s skull over his right eye killing him (that’s a three-aspirin headache, brother!).

Confusion over the motive remains, however, as Marlowe is believed to have been a government spy as well as an atheist, both circumstances that might have proven an ulterior motive for him being murdered. He was just as dead, regardless of the reason.


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This week in Literature and Arts

Birthday greetings to Sir Alec Guinness, born in London’s Paddington vicinity, April 2, 1914. I like him best in the David Lean films, and he brought a touch of class as Kenobi, and, of course, the man was born to play Smiley.

Guinness wrote a few memoirs, very charming and worth breezing through.


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This week in Literature and Arts

March 19, 1962: With the release of his eponymously named first album, the world meets Bob Dylan.


Happy 48th anniversary to John and Yoko, married March 20, 1969, by registrar Cecil Wheeler in a ten-minute ceremony at the British Consulate Office in Gibraltar (near Spain).


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