Clarence Darrow was born on this day in 1857. He was a major player in two of the most important trails of the last century: Scopes (evolution and free speech) and Leopold and Loeb (death penalty). He was a truly great man.
Japanese screenwriter Shinobu Hashimoto is 95 today. Rock journalist Robert Christgau is 71. Actor James Woods is 66. SCTV alumnus Rick Moranis is 60. Conan O’Brien is 50. Conservative apologist Niall Ferguson is 49. And actor Maria Bello is 46.
But the day belongs to the great playwright Thomas Middleton, who was born in 1580. He was a contemporary of Shakespeare, but created less insipid plots. To give you some idea, consider the following from Gary Taylor about Middleton’s play Women Beware Women:
What if Romeo and Juliet had lived? What if Romeo had been waiting there when Juliet awoke in the tomb, and the two of them had giddily eloped to Mantua, to live happily ever after? They wouldn’t have any money. Romeo would need to get a job. Juliet would stay at home all day, afraid that her family would find her if she dared to venture out. Alone at home, she’d be bored out of her skull. She’d want Romeo to stay home for sex and conversation every day. Both of them had grown up in wealthy families, and were used to the finer things in life. Juliet would grow increasingly impatient at her new standard of living. She’d start peeking out of the window, wanting to escape the little domestic box in which she’d been entombed alive. One day, a rich older man would see her at her window. She would look at him, looking at her. It’s so much easier to love “till death do us part” if death parts us quickly.
Happy birthday Thomas Middleton!
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