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!

August 16, 1956: Horror-film god Bela Lugosi dies of heart failure at 73.

Wounded fighting in the Austro-Hungarian army in World War I, Bela was hooked on doctor-prescribed morphine for decades (he beat it) but was a heavy smoker most of his life. For those days, 73 isn’t bad.

Admittedly, he appeared in some atrocious stinkers, but I’ll watch him in anything (and have). And while many fans favor Christopher Lee’s apex predator take on the count, Bela is the once and future Dracula.

Happy birthday to Mae Clarke, born August 16, 1910, in Philadelphia. When starting out in search of an acting career, she shared a Manhattan flat with Barbara Stanwyck.

Clark appeared in more than 100 films and TV shows over half a century but she’s remembered for two things—being chased around by Karloff in the original Frankenstein, and an equally psychotic James Cagney shoving a grapefruit in her kisser in The Public Enemy, both in 1931 (attagirl, Mae!).

Happy 97th birthday to Maureen O’Hara, born Maureen FitzSimons in Ranelagh, Ireland, August 17, 1920. Like Myrna Loy, O’Hara was another absolute stunner who was believable in any role—and she was all over the map, doing swashbucklers with Errol Flynn, Westerns with John Wayne, classics with Charles Laughton, and comedies and dramas with a variety of leading men.

I guess her two biggest films are Miracle on 34th St. and The Quiet Man, but I always think of her as Angharad in How Green Was My Valley, a family staple growing up (alas, it seems forgotten now). You have to admire her for going toe to toe with an 800lb gorilla like Duke Wayne and not getting lost in the scene.

Well done, Maureen.

Happy 81st birthday to actor, director, and patron saint of indie film Robert Redford, born August 18, 1936, in Santa Monica, CA. Always loved this guy from Butch and Sundance on up, and he’s still working and still fun to watch.

August 18, 1962: After dismissing Pete Best, The Beatles rock Hulme Hall in Merseyside with their new drummer, Ringo Starr.

Good choice, lads.

August 19, 1977: Groucho Marx dies of pneumonia at 86. He outlived all his brothers.

The one, the only, 40 years gone.

Happy 69th birthday to Robert Plant, born August 20, 1948, in West Bromwich, England. Frankly, I’d’ve bet he was in his 70s already but no need to rush it.

Enjoy, Robert.

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.