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.


Happy 87th birthday to actor and director extraordinaire Clint Eastwood, born in San Francisco on May 31, 1930.

Eastwood already had a popular TV show and several feature films—including the “Man With No Name” spaghetti Westerns—to his credit when cast as Harry Callahan, the role that made him an A-lister. The project was written for John Wayne, who rejected it (he didn’t want to play an anti-hero, silly because his Ethan Edwards character in The Searchers was his best role).

Warner Bros. then offered the film to—YIKES!—Frank Sinatra! Sinatra was quite interested in playing Harry (“feel lucky, baby!”) but was recovering from a broken wrist and the big N-frame S&W .44 magnum proved too much of a beast to heft (Frankie wasn’t lifting anything heavier than a glass of Jack), so dropped out.

Frustrated, director Don Siegel requested a list of actors under contract to Warners and seeing Eastwood’s name he knew he’d found Harry. They had worked together before on a solid film called Coogan’s Bluff, and Dirty Harry proved a perfect follow-up.

Eastwood is at work on his latest film.

Enjoy your day, Clint!


Let the day not pass without birthday remembrances of Walt Whitman, born May 31, 1819, in West Hills, NY, out here in Suffolk County.

In this 1887 pic he looks like one of the homeless guys who hang around the train station.

Happy birthday, Uncle Walt.


June 1, 1967: The Beatles change set another precedent with the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

One of the most astonishing things about Pepper is that three days after adding the finishing touches and sending it off to be pressed onto vinyl the band was back in the studio beginning Magical Mystery Tour. Three days.


Happy 91st birthday to Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jeane Mortenson in Los Angeles on June 1, 1926. Here she is in one of her better bombshell roles as the figment of Tom Ewell’s overactive imagination in The Seven Year Itch.


 

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.