Monthly Archives: February 2014
Ben Hecht, who was born on this day in 1894, began his writing career working for newspapers in Chicago. He wrote news stories and later wrote a regular column. His first book, A Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago, was a compilation of many of his columns. It was published in 1922. But, he couldn’t make a living there so he headed out to Hollywood to write screenplays. He won an Oscar for the 1927 film Underworld. He also collaborated on the screenplay for one of the most well-known films – Gone With the Wind. In 1928, he wrote the popular play The Front Page with Charles MacArthur. He used his adventures working on newspapers as the inspiration for the play. It, too, became a film. He continued his career writing other screenplays and plays, often with Charles MacArthur. He died in 1964.
Erma Bombeck was born on this day in 1927. While she was in college, she wrote obituaries and features for the Dayton Journal Herald. She married William Bombeck in 1949 and they had three children. She began writing for a local newspaper and got paid $3 a column. In 1965, the Journal Herald asked her to write a column three times a week. It was titled “At Wit’s End.” It eventually became nationally syndicated. She wrote several books during her lifetime, including At Wit’s End, her first book, which was a collection of her columns. She was diagnosed with kidney disease when she was 20 years old and struggled with it for the rest of her life. She also battled breast cancer, which she survived. Later, she had a kidney transplant but it failed. She passed away in 1996.
When Charles Dickens began writing, he used the pseudonym “Boz.” So when he came to the U.S. for a five-month tour in 1842, the elite of New York threw a lavish reception for him and called it the “Boz Ball.” Three thousand of New York’s upper crust turned out. They served the best food and beverages. In one newspaper, it described the event as “one of the most magnificent that has ever been given in this city.”