This week in Literature and Arts

Happy 85th birthday to Little Richard, born Richard Wayne Penniman in Macon, Georgia’s Pleasant Hill section December 5, 1932. One of rock ‘n’ roll’s inventors and certainly its most flamboyant founder—Richard was pioneering glam rock when David Bowie was still in high school. He influenced rockers as wide ranging as the Beatles to Patti Smith.

Birthday wishes to character actor extraordinaire Agnes Moorehead, born in Clinton, Mass., December 6, 1900. She’s no doubt best remembered for playing Endora, the snooty mother-in-law in TV’s Bewitched, but Moorehead was an original member of the Mercury Theatre, appearing in numerous radio productions as well as in Citizen Kane, and The Magnificent Ambersons. She also starred with Orson Welles as Margo Lane to his Lamont Cranston in The Shadow.

She was a top radio actress for many years and made the jump to early TV dramas. My favorite is her portrayal of the mute woman defending her cabin from diminutive alien invaders in The Twilight Zone.

December 6, 1933: Judge John Woolsey, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, determines that James Joyce’s Ulysses while containing titillating content is not intended to be obscene and is a “serious attempt to devise a new literary method,” clearing the book for distribution in the United States.

Remembering John Lennon, gone 37 years. Love to you, John.

Happy birthday to artists, humorist, author, reviewer, and New Yorker stalwart James Thurber, born December 8, 1894 in Columbus, Ohio.

As a kid, a toy arrow pierced James’s left eye during a game of William Tell with his older brother. In the rear of the hospital room where doctors struggled to save the organ there was a small, nondescript machine murmuring “pocketa-pocketa-pocketa-queep.”

Joking aside, Thurber lost the eye and was nearly blind in the other in his later years.

Happy birthday to Margaret Hamilton, born December 9, 1902 in Columbus, Ohio. She earned a degree in education and worked as a kindergarten teacher before acting full time, remaining involved in education throughout her life.

She typically was cast as tight-assed prudes until snagging the juiciest role imaginable (she was the second choice).  As a little kid was ANYTHING scarier than the Wicked Witch of the West and those flying monkeys! Forget Vader and Hannibal the cannibal, she’s the screen’s greatest villain!

Happy birthday to Victor McLaglen, born in London’s east end December 10, 1886. Always large, McLaglen ran off to join the army when he was underage in hopes of serving in the Boer War but instead was assigned guard duty at Windsor Castle. He did see combat in World War I and became the British Army’s heavyweight boxing champ.

After being discharged from the service, McLaglen made a living boxing and wrestling and played bit parts in British silent films before expatriating to the U.S. to pursue acting. He appeared in films with everyone from Lon Chaney to Shirley Temple (both as a kid and an adult) but, of course, is best remembered for his multiple roles in John Ford’s films and snagged a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Gypo Nolan in The Informer.

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.