Monday, August 31, 2015

Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme Attempted to Assassinate President Ford (September 5, 1975)

This week (August 31 – September 6) in crime history – Jack the Ripper claimed first victim (August 31, 1888); Serial killer Richard Ramirez was captured (September 1, 1985); Former Vice-President Aaron Burr was acquitted of treason (September 1, 1807); United Nation court hands down first conviction in the Rwandan Genocide (September 2, 1998); Hostage crisis at Russian school ends in massacre (September 3, 2004); Terrorist take Israeli athletes hostage at Munich Olympics (September 5, 1972); Lynette “Squeaky Fromme” attempts to assassinate President Gerald Ford (September 5, 1975); Drew Peterson was convicted of murdering his third wife (September 6, 2012)

Highlighted crime story of the week -


On September 5, 1975, an assassination attempt in Sacramento, California against President Gerald Ford was foiled when a Secret Service agent snatches a semi-automatic .45-caliber pistol from Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, a follower of convicted murderer Charles Manson. Fromme was pointing the loaded gun at the president when the Secret Service agent grabbed it. Seventeen days later, Ford escaped injury in another assassination attempt when 45-year-old Sara Jane Moore fired a revolver at him. Moore, a leftist radical who once served as an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had a history of mental illness. She was arrested at the scene, convicted, and sentenced to life.

Fromme pleaded not guilty to the “attempted assassination of a president” charge, arguing that although her gun contained bullets it had not been cocked, and therefore she had not actually intended to shoot the president. She was eventually convicted, sentenced to life in prison, and sent to the Alderson Federal Correctional Institution in West Virginia. Fromme remained a dedicated disciple of Charles Manson and in December 1987 escaped from the Alderson Prison after she heard that Manson, also imprisoned, had cancer. After 40 hours roaming the rugged West Virginia hills, she was caught on Christmas Day, about two miles from the prison. Five years were added to her life sentence for the escape. She was paroled in August 2009 after serving 34 years behind bars.

Check back every Monday for anew installment of “This Week in Crime History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:
 
 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Robert Frost Traveled to the Soviet Union on Goodwill Mission (August 29, 1962)

This week (August 28 – September 3) in literary history – Canadian novelist Robertson Davies was born (August 28, 1913); Robert Frost traveled to the Soviet Union on a good will mission (August 29, 1962); Novelist Henry James returned to the U.S. after two decades abroad (August 30, 1904); Armenian American novelist William Saroyan was born (August 31, 1908); Novelist Robert Pirsig was born (September 1, 1928); Eugene O’Neill’s The Ice Man Cometh opened on Broadway (September 2, 1946); Author Malcolm Gladwell was born (September 3, 1963)

Highlighted Literary Story of the Week -
 
 
On August 29, 1962, poet Robert Frost traveled to the Soviet Union on a goodwill tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department in an effort to soften Cold War relations. Frost’s poetry has established his international reputation as American’s unofficial poet laureate. While his best work appeared in earlier decades, he is nevertheless seen as an elder statesman of literature.

Despite his close association with New England, Robert Frost was born on March 26, 1874 in San Francisco, California. His father, a journalist, died when Robert was 11 and Frosts mother moved to Massachusetts. Frost graduated as co-valedictorian of his high school class and then attended Dartmouth and Harvard, but didn’t complete a degree at either school. Three years after high school, he married his high school sweet heart, Elinor White.

Frost tried unsuccessfully to run a New England farm, and the family, which would eventually include six children, struggled with poverty for two decades. Frost became more and more depressed and in 1912, he moved his family to England to make a fresh start. There he concentrated on his poetry and in 1913 published a collection called A Boy’s Will, which won praise from English critics and helped him win a U.S. publishing contract for his second poetry book, North of Boston (1914). The American public took a liking to the 40-year-old Frost, who returned to the U.S. when World War I broke out. He bought another farm in New Hampshire and continued to write poetry. Frosts wife died in 1938 from heart failure and he remained single the remainder of his life.

He taught and lectured at Amherst, the University of Michigan, Harvard, and Dartmouth, and read from his work at the inauguration of President Kennedy in 1960. He also endured personal tragedy when a son committed suicide and a daughter had a mental breakdown. His last poetry collection, In the Clearing, was published in 1962. While Frost never graduated from a university, he collected 44 honorary degrees before he died on January 29, 1963 in Boston and was buried at the Bennington Old Cemetery in Bennington, Vermont.

Check back every Friday for a new installment of “This Week in Literary History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is the author of six nonfiction books that includes America’s Literary Legends and Literary Legends of the British Isles. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:
 
 
 
 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Theodore Dreiser was Born (August 27, 1871

This week (August 21-28) in literary history – Christopher Robin Milne, son of A.A. Milne was born (August 21, 1920); Novelist E. Annie Proulx was born (August 22, 1935); Novelist Edgar Lee Masters was born (August 23, 1869); Novelist A.S. Byatt was born (August 24, 1936); The film version of L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz was released (August 25, 1939); Ralph Waldo Emerson met Thomas Carlyle (August 26, 1838); Novelist Theodore Dreiser was born (August 27, 1871); Novelist Robertson Davies was born (August 28, 1913)

Highlighted Literary Story of the Week -
 
 
On August 27, 1871, Theodore Dreiser was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, his novel Sister Carrie would help change the direction of American literature. Dreiser was the 12th of 13 children born to a poor, unhappy family. Except for one brother who became a songwriter, most of the Dreiser children failed to rise above their squalid roots. Starting in his early teens, Dreiser supported himself with menial jobs. A sympathetic teacher helped him get into Indiana University, but he stayed only one year. In 1892, he began working as a journalist for the Chicago Globe. He continued working in journalism while writing his first novel, Sister Carrie, which was published in 1900. The novel was a major break from the Victorian propriety of the time, and the printer refused to promote the book. Fewer than 500 copies were sold.

Dreiser had a mental breakdown in the early 1900s but was nursed back to health by his songwriter brother. He became a successful magazine editor until he was forced to resign in 1910 following a scandal involving an employee’s daughter. Dreiser was frequently linked to immoral behavior during his lifetime. Sister Carrie was reissued in 1907 and gradually increased in popularity. Dreiser turned to writing full time. He published several more novels between 1911 and 1915, including Jennie Gerhardt (1911), The Financier (1912), and The Titan (1914).

In 1925, his novel An American Tragedy was a critical success and was based on a famous murder trial, the book criticized the U.S. legal system, and Dreiser became a spokesman for reform. In 1927, he visited the Soviet Union and published Dreiser Looks at Russia in 1928. Associated with radical politics and the Communist Party in the 1930s, Dreiser focused on political writing until his death in 1945 and was buried Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale.

Check back every Friday for a new installment of “This Week in Literary History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is the author of six nonfiction books that includes America’s Literary Legends and Literary Legends of the British Isles. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:
 
 
 
 

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Menendez Brothers Murdered Their Parents (August 20, 1989)

This week (August 17-23) in crime history – Old West outlaw Billy the Kid killed his first victim (August 17, 1877); Seattle Juvenile Judge Gary Little committed suicide after being implicated in a sex scandal (August 18, 1988); The West Memphis Three were released from prison (August 19, 2011); The Menendez Brothers murdered their parents (August 20, 1989); Leon Trotsky was assassinated (August 20, 1940); Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” was stolen from the Louvre (August 21, 1911); The Barker gang killed a Federal Reserve agent in Chicago (August 22, 1933); Irish revolutionary Michael Collins was assassinated (August 22, 1922); Austrian teenager Natascha Kampusch escaped her kidnappers (August 23, 2006)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -


On August 20, 1989, Lyle and Erik Menendez shot their parents, Jose and Kitty, to death in the den of the family’s Beverly Hills, California, home. They then drove up to Mulholland Drive, where they dumped their shotguns before continuing to a local movie theater to buy tickets as an alibi. When the pair returned home, Lyle called 911. The Menendez murders became a national sensation when the new television network, Court TV, broadcast the trial in 1993.

Although the Menendez brothers were not immediately suspected, Erik couldn’t take the guilt and confessed his involvement to his psychotherapist, Dr. L. Jerome Oziel. Ignoring his own ethical responsibilities, Dr. Oziel taped the sessions with his new patient in an apparent attempt to impress his mistress but the woman ended up going to the police with her information and, in March 1990, Lyle, 22, and Erik, 19, were arrested.

For the next three years, a legal battle was fought over the admissibility of Dr. Oziel’s tapes. Finally, the California Supreme Court ruled that the tapes could be played. When the trial began in the summer of 1993, the Menendez brothers put on a spirited defense. In compelling testimony lasting over a month, they emotionally described years of sexual abuse by Jose and Kitty Menendez. They insisted that they had shot their parents in self-defense because they believed that Jose would kill them rather than have the abuse be exposed.

The first two juries (one for each brother) deadlocked, and a mistrial was declared. At the retrial, which began in October 1995, the judge was much more restrictive in allowing the defense attorneys to focus on the alleged sexual abuse. In March 1996, both Lyle and Erik were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Check back every Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:


Friday, August 14, 2015

Novelist Jacqueline Susann was Born (August 20, 1918)

This week (August 14-20) in literary history – Richard Henry Dana set sail from Boston (August 14, 1834); Novelist Edna Ferber was born (August 15, 1887); Poet Charles Bukowski was born (August 16, 1920); George Orwell’s Animal Farm was published (August 17, 1946); Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita was published in the United States (August 18, 1958); Poet Joseph Conrad became a British citizen (August 19, 1886); Novelist Jacqueline Susann was born (August 20, 1918); Crime writer Elmore Leonard died (August 20, 2013)

Highlighted Literary Story of the Week -  


On August 20, 1918, bestselling author Jacqueline Susann was born in Philadelphia to a schoolteacher mother and artist father. Susann moved to New York in her early 20s to work as a model and actress. She played minor roles in several Broadway plays and later moved to Hollywood, with no great success.

She married Irving Mansfield in 1945, had a son, and continued pursuing her acting. She tried her hand at playwriting as well, but the show she co-authored lasted less than a month on Broadway. Her first book, Every Night, Josephine (1963), about her poodle, was a surprise bestseller. She wrote her next novel in 18 months, turning her observations of drug use, sex, and insecurity among Hollywood actresses into Valley of the Dolls (1966). The book topped the bestseller lists for 22 weeks.

Her next book, The Love Machine (1969), about the sexual antics of a shallow and powerful television executive, was a number one bestseller for five months. When her 1973 novel, Once Is Not Enough, came out, she became the first novelist to have three bestsellers on the list at once. While critics were harsh in their reviews, Susann defended her books on the grounds that she told a good story that people wanted to read. Susann died of cancer on September 21, 1974 in New York City. Her remains were cremated and disposition is uncertain. It is assumed but not confirmed that her ashes were interred with her husband at the Church of the Ascension Cemetery in Greenwich Village when he died in 1988.  

Check back every Friday for a new installment of “This Week in Literary History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is the author of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning Literary Legends of the British Isles (2014) and America’s Literary Legends (2015). Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:
 
 
 
 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Carol Bundy Confessed Role in Sunset Slayer Case (August 11, 1980)

This week (August 10-16) in crime history – The severed head of Adam Walsh, son of TV personality John Walsh was discovered (August 10, 1981); Carol Bundy confessed her role in the Sunset Slayer case (August 11, 1980); Alcatraz Federal Prison opened (August 11, 1934); Jonesboro School massacre shooter plead guilty (August 11, 1998); Yosemite Killer, Cary Stayner was born (August 13, 1961); Terrorist Carlos the Jackal was captured (August 14, 1994); Mary Winkle, who fatally shot her pastor husband was released from prison (August 15, 2006); Auto Executive John DeLorean was cleared of drug charges (August 16, 1984)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -


On August 11, 1980, Carol Bundy confessed her role in the Sunset Slayer case. The killer had been murdering and mutilating young women in Hollywood, California, all summer, to co-workers. Bundy, a nurse, told friends “I can’t take it anymore. I’m supposed to save lives, not take them.” Her confession was relayed to police, who immediately arrested Douglas Clark, Bundy’s boyfriend.

Bundy and Clark met in a North Hollywood bar in January, 1980. Clark was a self-described “king of the one-night stands.” But when he met Bundy, he soon discovered that she was willing to assist and indulge in his sick fantasies. Bundy began listening to his desire to kill. In June, Clark abducted two teenagers, sexually assaulted them, and then shot them in the head. He dumped their bodies off the freeway and then went home to brag about it to Bundy. Two weeks later, Clark struck again, killing two young women in separate incidents. In the second attack, Clark cut the head off the woman and took it home, insisting that Bundy apply cosmetics to it. Because most of his victims had been abducted from the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, the press dubbed the killer, the Sunset Slayer.

Clark proved to be more of an influence than Bundy expected. When she blabbed about Clark’s activities to a former boyfriend, she felt compelled to kill the man to make sure that she wasn’t implicated. On August 5, Bundy stabbed John Murray to death and then cut off his head. Within a week, she was tearfully confessing to her fellow nurses. During the trial in 1981, Clark tried to pin all of the murders on Bundy, but the jurors found his story hard to believe and sentenced him to death. Bundy attempted an insanity defense, but she eventually pleaded guilty and received a sentence of 52 years-to-life.

Check back every Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:
 
 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Virginia Woolf Married Leonard Woolf (August 10, 1912)

This week (August 7-13) in literary history – Henry Fielding falls ill and travels to Lisbon (August 7, 1754); John Keats returns from walking tour of the Lake Districts (August 8, 1818: Henry David Thoreau published “Walden” (August 9, 1854); Virginia Woolf married Leonard Woolf (August 10, 1912); Novelist Alex Haley was born (August 11, 1921); Edith Wharton died (August 11, 1937); Robert Southey, Poet Laureate of England was born (August 12, 1774); H.G. Wells died (August 13, 1946); Novelist and playwright William Goldman was born (August 13, 1931)

Highlighted Literary Story of the week -


On August 10, 1912, Virginia Stephen married Leonard Woolf, at a registry office in London. Virginia Woolf, born in 1882, grew up surrounded by intellectuals. Her father was a writer and philosopher, and her mother was a British aristocrat. In 1902, Virginia’s father died, and Virginia took a house with her sister and two brothers in the Bloomsbury district of London near the British Museum. The family developed close friendships with other intellectuals and writers, including writer E.M. Forster, economist J.M. Keyes, and biographer Lytton Strachey. Their circle of friends came to be called the Bloomsbury group, a leisured set associated with progressive intellectual ideas and sexual freedom.

Woolf became a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement and also took odd jobs to support herself until she inherited a comfortable income from an aunt. Virginia married writer and social reformer Leonard Woolf in 1912. The couple established the Hogarth Press in their dining room several years later. In addition to Virginia Woolf’s later novels, the press also published T.S. Eliot and translations of Chekhov and Dostoevsky.

Woolf published her groundbreaking novel Mrs. Dalloway in 1925. Its stream-of-consciousness structure deeply influenced later writers. That same year, she fell in love with poet Vita Sackville-West, and the affair inspired Woolf’s most whimsical work, Orlando. Woolf wrote several more novels as well as social and literary criticism. However, she suffered from depression and mental illness all her life. On March 28, 1941, fearful for her own sanity and afraid of the coming world war, she filled her pockets with rocks and drowned herself. Her cremated remains were buried in the garden of Monk’s House in Rodmell, Sussex.

Check back every Friday for a new installment of “This Week in Literary History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is the author of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning Literary Legends of the British Isles and America’s Literary Legends. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following links: