Dec. 12, 1999

Excerpt from "An Essay on Man"

by Alexander Pope

Broadcast Date: SUNDAY: December 12, 1999

Poem: from "Essay on Man" by Alexander Pope.

It's the birthday of novelist Gustave Flaubert, born in Rouen [roo-AHN], France (1821). After studying law he had a nervous breakdown, then convalesced for a year, and then, with an allowance from his father, concentrated on writing. Madame Bovary (1857), his masterpiece, came out when he was 36. He wrote painstakingly, rarely producing more than a paragraph or two a day, and in 22 years completed just 4 more novels and 3 novellas. "You must not think that feeling is everything. Art is nothing without form."

It's the birthday of Norwegian painter and printmaker Edvard Munch [mungk], born in Loten, Norway (1863). A forerunner of Expressionism, he was obsessed by death and love, both of which he expressed in tortured symbolist paintings, using titles such as "The Sick Child" (1886), "The Cry" (1893), "The Vampire" (1894), "In Hell, Self-Portrait" (1895)—and, familiar to us from refrigerator magnets and T-shirts, "The Scream" (1893).

It's the birthday of scriptwriter Howard Koch, born in New York City (1902)—most vividly remembered for the radio script he wrote for Orson Welles famous War of the Worlds broadcast (1938). Koch also wrote many Hollywood film scripts, including Sergeant York (1941), Mission to Moscow (1943), and Casablanca (1943).

It's the birthday of singer (Fracis Albert) Frank Sinatra, born in Hoboken, New Jersey (1915). His parents were both born in Italy; his father worked as a Hoboken fireman; his mother often sang at social functions. At 21, after hearing Bing Crosby perform in Jersey City, he announced that even though he couldn't read music and had never sung professionally, he was quitting his newspaper job to become a crooner. "My greatest teacher was not a vocal coach, but the way Tommy Dorsey breathed and phrased on the trombone."

It's the birthday of playwright John Osborne, born in London (1929), whose Look Back in Anger (1956) suggested the label for the Angry Young Men movement. Another play, commissioned by Lawrence Olivier, was The Entertainer (1959).

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