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.

July 2, 1956: Elvis Presley, backed by the Jordanaires, records “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel” at RCA’s Studio 1 in New York City. The songs were released as the A and B sides of a single. Not a bad day’s work.

Hail to The King, baby!

Happy 134th birthday to Franz Kafka, born July 3, 1883, in Prague.

I never could get into this guy. He bugs me—woohoo!!!

July 3, 1971: Pamlea Courson finds boyfriend Jim Morrison dead as a Doors nail in their apartment’s bathtub at 17 rue Beautreillis in Paris. Morrison’s untimely demise—attributed to heart failure, although no autopsy was performed—immediately aroused suspicion, with some going as far as claiming Morrison staged his own death to escape the prison of fame. I don’t believe it, but if so, great job, Jim!!!

Happy 90th birthday to Neil Simon, born July 4, 1927, in the Bronx. It amazes how he wraps the funniest comedy around such serious issues. A remarkable talent.

July 4, 1855: Walt Whitman self-publishes Leaves of Grass then spends most of his life revising it.

Happy birthday to Bill Haley, the rocker with the Superman hair curl, born July 6, 1925, in Highland Park, MI. An ear operation during childhood left him blind in his left eye.

Bill and the Comets were one of the earliest rock bands to tour England, and many of the major British Invasion kids from McCartney on down credit him with being a major influence.

A heavy drinker, Bill died of a brain tumor at 55 in 1981.

Happy 77th birthday wishes to Ringo Starr, singer, musician, actor, and inventor of the “selfie,” born July 7, 1940.

Peace and love, Ringo.

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.