This week in Literature and Arts

Happy 120th birthday to the great Moe Howard, born Moses Horwitz on June 19, 1897, in Brooklyn. We may not like to admit it, but there’s a little Moe in us all.

June 20, 1975: Steven Spielberg, 27, invents the summer blockbuster while scaring the crap out of everyone and becoming one of Hollywood’s hottest prospects with the release of JAWS.

In a case of life imitating art, within weeks of the film’s release, beach communities across the country (the world?) began experiencing exactly what the story’s scumbag mayor and greedy business owners (the true villains) feared—afraid of being chomped, the public was staying away and there wasn’t a boat bigger enough to lure them back.

For terrified beachgoers all but seeing sharks finning through their morning coffee, the summer of ’75 was over by mid July and the only thing left to do was hoist a shovel and bury it—the head, the tail, the whole damn thing.

Even 40+ years later is it possible to go the shore without a tiny voice deep in your head going da-dum…da-dum…da-dum…da-dum…?

No swimming. Beach closed. Bravo, Steven.

Join me in 89th birthday greetings to Martin Landau, born June 20, 1928, in Brooklyn.

After a career of playing slimy turds in films like North by Northwest and Nevada Smith, he delivers a funny, heartbreaking performance as Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood that snags him an Oscar.

Have a great day, Martin!

June 21, 1955: The world meets Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two with the release of “Cry, Cry, Cry,” his first single on Sun Records.

June 22, 2008: George Carlin dies of heart failure at 71. He’d had a long history of coronary problems and had undergone several surgeries to repair damage and open clogged arteries.

Happy 59th birthday to Bruce Campbell, born June 22, 1958 in Royal Oak, Michigan.

When He and Sam Raimi were off to the woods to film The Evil Dead it hadn’t been decided who would play Ash and who’d direct. They reasoned that since Bruce was better at making goofy faces he should be in front of the camera with Sam behind.

Well chosen, gentlemen!

Have a great one, Bruce!

June 22, 1964: The U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of Grove Press publisher Barney Rosset, declaring that Henry Miller’s 1934 novel, Tropic of Cancer is an important work of literature that can be sold by U.S. bookstores. Grove republished the work in 1961 and was beset by obscenity charges, which landed many booksellers offering the volume in very hot water.

When the book debuted in France in 1934, U.S. customs deemed it obscene and prevented it from entering the country. An America edition released in the 1940s resulted in the publisher serving a prison sentence.

Bravo Barney and Grove!

Monster fans, let us remember Colin Clive, who died 80 years ago today (June 25, 1937). Like his most famous role, Clive apparently was a tormented soul who took his depression out in drink, which combined with tuberculosis killed him at only 37 years old.

We’re wowed by Karloff in Frankenstein, but Henry, arguably, is the film’s heavy role and Clive is masterful—subdued one minute and a tower explosive energy the next. The “it’s alive!” scene is what it is because Clive is so frenetic and plain stark raving bonkers. He’s marvelous.

Bravo, Colin.

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.