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.

Birthday greetings to Herman Melville, born August 1, 1819, on Pearl Street in Manhattan. Tough to picture him as a kid.

Happy birthday to the lovely Myrna Loy, born Myrna Adele Williams in Helena, Montana, August 2, 1905. Loy was dubbed “the perfect wife” in the industry after being cast in numerous roles calling for that type, but she began her career portraying vamps in the silents and early talkies including playing Boris Karloff’s seductive and treacherous Chinese daughter in The Mask of Fu Manchu.

After bit parts in a lot of forgettable stinkers, she became an A-lister in 1934 when being cast back-to-back in Manhattan Melodrama with top dogs Clark Gable and William Powell and in her signature role as Nora Charles in the first of The Thin Man series.

Of all the old-time actresses, Loy is my favorite. She could do everything but had a true talent for comedy—her pratfall introduction in The Thin Man is as good as any of Powell’s muggings for the camera. Repetitive turns as the cookie-cutter “perfect wife” would get stale fast, but she brings something beyond what’s on the page to these roles.

Being drop-dead gorgeous doesn’t hurt either.

Happy birthday to Percy Shelley, born August 4, 1792, in Sussex, England. Arguably the genius of the Romantic poets.

August 4, 1964: The world meets The Kinks with the release of their debut single, “You Really Got Me,” which also became the group’s first #1 record. Love these guys!

August 5, 1962: Marilyn Monroe, 36, is found bare-assed and a lovely shade of blue in the bedroom of her Brentwood bungalow clutching a bottle of barbiturates in one hand and the phone receiver in the other. She was interned three days later at a small, private 1 p.m. ceremony at Westwood Village Memorial Park in L.A.

The most beautiful corpse in the world.

Happy birthday to John Huston, born August 5, 1906, in Nevada, Missouri. Apparently quite the son of a bitch, but a superb filmmaker.

That great simian face!

Happy 100th birthday to Robert Mitchum, born August 6, 1917, in Bridgeport, CT. Mitchum was a wild kid who began bumming around the country riding the rails as a young teen doing god only knows what. These experiences served him well in his acting career playing very convincing crazies in Cape Fear and Night of the Hunter. His sleep eyes and natural don’t-give-a-damn persona also made him the best Philip Marlowe (sorry, Bogie). He’s a very fun guy to watch.

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.