Year
1942

William Faulkner begins a screenwriting stint

Novelist William Faulkner starts a five-month stint with Warner Brothers on this day.

Faulkner had already published several literary novels, including The Sound and the Fury (1929), Light in August (1932), and Absalom, Absalom! (1936), but his novels were not commercial successes. Faulkner wrote two critically acclaimed films, both starring Humphrey Bogart: To Have and Have Not was based on an Ernest Hemingway novel, and The Big Sleep was based on a mystery by Raymond Chandler.

Screenwriting provided income for many novelists from the 1930s through the 1950s. With the development of talking pictures, starting with The Jazz Singer in 1927, the demand for writers to create convincing movie dialogue and story lines brought many novelists to Hollywood. Other prominent writers who did their time in Hollywood include Raymond Chandler, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tennessee Williams, Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker, and Nathanael West. West’s novel The Day of the Locusts is considered one of the best novels about Hollywood in the ’40s.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

FBI founded

On July 26, 1908, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is born when U.S. Attorney General Charles Bonaparte orders a group of newly hired federal investigators to report to Chief Examiner Stanley W. Finch of the Department of Justice. One year later, the Office of the Chief ...read more

Egypt nationalizes the Suez Canal

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Liberian independence proclaimed

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Winston Churchill resigns

In the 11th hour of World War II, Winston Churchill is forced to resign as British prime minister following his party’s electoral defeat by the Labour Party. It was the first general election held in Britain in more than a decade. The same day, Clement Attlee, the Labour leader, ...read more

U.S. postal system established

On this day in 1775, the U.S. postal system is established by the Second Continental Congress, with Benjamin Franklin as its first postmaster general. Franklin (1706-1790) put in place the foundation for many aspects of today’s mail system. During early colonial times in the ...read more

United States freezes Japanese assets

On this day in 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt seizes all Japanese assets in the United States in retaliation for the Japanese occupation of French Indo-China.On July 24, Tokyo decided to strengthen its position in terms of its invasion of China by moving through Southeast ...read more

Bob Mathias wins second Olympic decathlon

On July 26, 1952, at the XV Olympiad in Helsinki, Finland, American Bob Mathias wins his second straight gold medal in the Olympic decathlon.Bob Mathias was born on November 17, 1930, in Tulare, California. After a series of boyhood growth spurts left him underweight and anemic, ...read more

John Quincy Adams marries Louisa Johnson

On this day in 1797, future President John Quincy Adams, the son of second President John Adams, marries Louisa Johnson in London, England. Louisa was–and remains– the only foreign-born first lady of the United States. Louisa’s parents were English colonists living in Maryland ...read more

Officer Wyatt Earp fatally wounds cowboy

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Entertainer Mick Jagger born

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Grasshoppers bring ruin to Midwest

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Real-life Psycho Ed Gein dies

On July 26, 1984, Ed Gein, a serial killer infamous for skinning human corpses, dies of complications from cancer in a Wisconsin prison at age 77. Gein served as the inspiration for writer Robert Bloch’s character Norman Bates in the 1959 novel “Psycho,” which in 1960 was turned ...read more

Truman signs the National Security Act

President Harry S. Truman signs the National Security Act, which becomes one of the most important pieces of Cold War legislation. The act established much of the bureaucratic framework for foreign policymaking for the next 40-plus years of the Cold War. By July 1947, the Cold ...read more

Three race fans killed at Michigan Speedway

The U.S. 500, the most prestigious race in the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) series, dissolves into tragedy on this day in 1998, when three fans are killed and six others wounded by flying debris from a car at Michigan Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. CART (later known as ...read more