This week in Literature and Arts

Happy birthday to Ward Bond, born in Benkelman, Nebraska, April 9, 1903. One of the great character actors and a pillar of John Ford’s ensemble, Ward spent most of his career (more than 200 films) portraying cops and cowboys. He played football at USC with teammate John Wayne (still Marion Morrison then)—what are the odds?

For most, he’s probably best known as Bert the cop in Frank Capra’s holiday crowd-pleaser It’s a Wonderful Life. He also had small roles in Gone With the Wind, The Grapes of Wrath, Dead End, and Bringing up Baby.”

My favorites are the Ford films (he did 25 of them), and he’s solid as Tom Polhaus in The Maltese Falcon.

Bond in the “chew” shot from the creme de la creme, The Searchers.

April 9, 1859: Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 23, receives his steamboat pilot’s license after apprenticing two years. He spent another two years on the Mississippi before the Civil War’s outbreak halted river traffic, leading him to take a newspaper job.

April 10, 1925: Scribner publishes The Great Gatsby.” Despite lackluster sales (when Scott died in 1940, returned Gatsby first editions were thick with dust in the publisher’s warehouse), I believe this book was a game-changer for American literature and opened the door for many young authors that followed.


April 10, 1981: Rereleased theatrically for the third time, Star Wars now bears the title Episode IV A New Hope in the opening crawl.

Happy 73rd birthday to writer, producer, director, surfer, and nut-job John Milius, born April 11, 1944, in St, Louis, Missouri.

Milius has directed a handful of popular films, but, arguably is more successful as a screenwriter, having penned Jeremiah Johnson, Dirty Harry and Magnum Force, Dillinger, and Apocalypse Now (George Lucas was slated to direct) as well as the films he directed—Conan the Barbarian, Red Dawn (the guiltiest of guilty pleasures), and The Wind and the Lion. He also claims to have written the Indianapolis speech from JAWS but so does everybody (Carl Gottlieb begs to differ).

Milius also has the claim of infamy of in large part being the model for the Walter Sobchak character in The Big Lebowski.

Happy birthday, John.

Happy birthday to Samuel Beckett, born in Dublin, Ireland, April 13, 1906. Great face.

April 14, 1939: Viking Press publishes Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Arguably, the 20th century’s great American novel.

“We’re the people—we go on.” As important to remember as ever. Tom and Ma.

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.