This week in Literature and Arts

Birthday greetings to Brian De Palma, born September 11, 1940, in Newark, NJ. I assume he’s best known for the crime thrillers Scarface and “The Untouchables,” but I prefer the scary stuff like Carrie, The Fury, and Dressed To Kill” Eye of the beholder.

Happy 77th Brian. Thanks for the chills (the slow razor through Angie Dickinson’s hand creeps me out every time!).

Happy birthday to Henry Louis Mencken, the Sage of Baltimore, born September 12, 1880, in that city. I don’t know if many read him anymore, although he is well worth it. And remember that he and George Jean Nathan created Black Mask magazine in 1920. For that and more I thank him.

Happy birthday to Sherwood Anderson, born September 13, 1876, in Camden, Ohio. Around 1920 he was living in Chicago after working for years in advertising and publishing his first books, including Winesburg, Ohio, which was taking off.

He and Carl Sandburg would gather with a bunch of young wannabe writers to get shitfaced and muse about the writing life. One of these fledglings was Hemingway when he was roughly 19 or 20 years old and had moved into Chicago to get away from his stick-up-the-ass parents in the burbs. Much of Ernesto’s approach to living like a writer (basically not giving a fuck about anyone but yourself) came from these drinkathons with Anderson.

Happy 110th birthday to Fay Wray, born September 15, 1907, in Cardston, Alberta, Canada. Fay began her film career as a teen in silents and worked until 1980. She appeared beside a number of Hollywood’s biggest talents, but all paled in comparison to the biggest star in film history in the 1933 role that defined her career.

The legend is that both she and Robert Armstrong acted in The Most Dangerous Game and King Kong simultaneously, shooting Kong during the day and Game at night on the same jungle sets!

Fay reportedly passed on a cameo in Peter Jackson’s Kong remake (attagirl). She died in Manhattan in 2004 just shy of her 97th birthday.

Graying (or geezer) sci-fi heads give it up for The Outer Limits, which premiered September 16, 1963, with “The Galaxy Being” starring Cliff Robertson. I remember watching this as a kid (it ran until January 1965—49 shows total) and it scaring the hell out of me, although looking at it now most of the monsters were pretty low budget. It’s greatness is in the scripts written by Psycho screenwriter Joseph Stefano, Robert Towne, Harlan Ellison, and others combined with terrific actors. Solid stuff.

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.