This week in Literature and Arts

Remembering Jack “King” Kirby, who died of heart failure February 6, 1984. At the 2008 New York Comic Con Stan Lee said that Kirby, “was a born storyteller…he never ran out of ideas, and I stole as many of them as I could.”

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Let the day not pass without remembering Babe Ruth, born February 6, 1895 in Baltimore, MD. Even if you’re not a Yankees fan, he’s still the Bambino.

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February 7, 1964: Thousands of teen girls (and some guys) begin screaming as Pan Am Yankee Clipper flight 101 from Heathrow touches down at New York’s JFK airport. The Beatles have come to America to begin their first U.S. tour culminating with an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

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February 7, 1914: “Kid Auto Races at Venice” hits movies screens around the world. The six-minute short features a young British stage comic named Charlie Chaplin ad libbing for attendees viewing the races.

It marked Chaplin’s second screen appearance, but for this one he was allowed to pick his own wardrobe.

The “tramp” is born.

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Big 85th birthday wishes to John Williams, born February 8, 1932 in Floral Park, Queens. Only Walt Disney has racked up more Oscar nominations. When Williams was a session player back in the day, one of his early gigs was working with Henry Mancini on “Peter Gunn”—that deep piano is him. He also wrote music for episodes of “Gilligan’s Island.”

It is impossible to imagine “JAWS,” “Raiders,” and, especially, “Star Wars” without Williams’s scores. His music is practically a character in these films. It’s hard to pick a favorite.

Happy birthday, Johnny!

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February 11, 1963: The Beatles record the album “Please, Please Me” in a single 13-hour day at EMI Studios. The recordings were broken into three sessions, with the last running past the studio’s 10 p.m. closing time, concluding at roughly 10:45 p.m. with Lennon’s single-take cover of “Twist and Shout.” While producer George Martin and his crew broke for lunch and dinner, the band opted to stay and rehearse, prompting Martin to say that he’d never seen a band work so hard and to marvel that rather than peter out, the longer they worked the better they sounded.

A 14-song album in its entirety (including overdubs, etc.) in one day. Unbelievable!


February 12, 1809: Happy birthday, Abe!

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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.