This week in Literature and Arts

Happy birthday to crazy ol’ Ezra Pound, born in Hailey, Idaho, October 30, 1885.

A bit of a nut I suppose and certainly a terrible anti-Semite, but no one was more generous to young writers than him.

October 31, 1926: Internationally renowned escape artist Harry Houdini dies of peritonitis on Halloween at age 52. A devotee and debunker of  spiritualism, Houdini, born Erik Weisz, a rabbi’s son, in Budapest, promised his wife he’d speak to her from beyond the grave if possible.

After years of waiting faithfully, she gave up. Good call, toots.

Happy birthday to Burt Lancaster, born November 2, 1913 on East 106th St in Manhattan. Burt was a gifted athlete and attended NYU on a basketball scholarship but bombed out. He worked as a circus acrobat for several years and served in the army during World War II. A Hollywood agent saw him in a small theater production in New York and sent him west. You know the rest.

History will remember him for From Here to Eternity, but I think he shines brightest in The Professionals.

November 3, 1976: Brian DePalma’s Carrie, the first and, arguably, still finest adaptation of Stephen King’s work, hits screens. The film solidified the careers of several budding actors, most notably lead Sissy Spacek.

DePalma had chosen actress Betsy Slade to play protagonist Carrie White, but Jack Fisk, the film’s art director and Spacek’s husband, asked as a favor if Sissy could audition. DePalma agreed, and Spacek read wearing a battered dress she’d owned in high school, no makeup, and Vaseline in her hair. Slade was out, Spacek was in (and snagged an Oscar nomination!).

November 4, 1948: T.S. Eliot wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. I like a guy with a messy desk.

November 5, 1930: Sinclair Lewis becomes the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

His heart pined for actress Fay Wray, and he wrote numerous poems to her.  Alas, like Kong, his advances were shot down in the end.

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.