My friend Don Evans, the founder and Executive Director of the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, is a master of producing great celebratory events honoring Chicago writers, past and present. Don runs his organization on a shoestring budget, yet his productions are always at beautiful venues, free to the public, and features some of the best of Chicago’s creative community as participants.
Last evening’s induction of Roger Ebert into the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, held at the new American Writers Museum on Michigan Avenue, was one such event. The emcee was Rick Kogan, the fabled Tribune features writer and radio interviewer. Rick told the story about how impressed his father, Herman Kogan, the editor of Panorama, the literary supplement of the Daily News, was when Ebert submitted a short piece to him on Brendan Behan, shortly after the Irish writer’s death in 1964. Panorama published the piece, introducing Ebert to Chicago’s newspaper audience.
A few years later, in 1967, at the age of 25, Ebert was hired by the Sun-Times, as its film critic. His career with the newspaper was enduring and prolific, lasting to his death in 2013. No American newspaper film critic was better than Ebert, who became the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.
However it was the medium of television that catapulted Ebert to fame, partnering in movie review shows first with Gene Siskel, and later with Richard Roeper. Last evening Roeper shared some wonderful personal memories about his late friend and colleague. Ebert’s editor for nearly twenty years at the Sun-Tmes, Laura Emerick, reminisced about the brilliance of his writing.
Ebert’s wife, Chaz, was the last and most powerful speaker at the ceremony. Like others she spoke of his writing genius, but she emphasized the greatness of his humanity and his passion for social justice, i.e. Ebert, the man, as a model for all of us to emulate.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle introduced the world to Sherlock Holmes with the publication of A Study in Starlet in 1887. Now 130 years later, the great sleuth of Baker Street remains the world’s most popular fictional detective, with much exposure on television and the cinema. Yet, there is nothing quite like the brilliantly descriptive prose and coherent deductive reasoning found in Doyle’s great Holmes’ stories.
Sherlock Holmes reading and discussion groups have popped up around the world. There is a most congenial one locally here in northern suburban Chicago at the Highwood Library that meets and discusses a story every two months. My friend Brenda has been an enthusiastic member of this group now going on a decade.
The next discussion group of the Highwood Public Library will be October 3 at 7:00 p.m. Under discussion is “The Adventure of the Golden Prince-Nez.” If you have interest in this group, let Brenda know by contacting her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My dear friend and my favorite local theater scene septuagenarian actor, Howard Raik, is performing in a new play, Ashes and Acceptance, starting this weekend, and ending next weekend at The Gorilla Tango Theater, 1919 N. Milwaukee in Chicago. There are only six performances: August 4, 5, 6 & 11, 12, 13. All shows start at 8:00 pm. It is an original one-act play by local playwright Dakota Vaassen, about a father and daughter reuniting after forty years of estrangement. Don’t forget to bring your handkerchiefs.