Special Volumes: What else happened on Dec. 25?

Special to the HeraldDecember 22, 2013 

The birth of Jesus Christ is celebrated on Dec. 25, although the actual date of his birth remains the subject of speculation and most likely will never be known.

So, what else happened on Dec. 25? Find out about some famous birthdays and events on this date at one of Manatee County's libraries.

Did you know that George Washington's famous crossing of the Delaware happened on Christmas Day in 1776 during a howling nor'easter that slammed the Delaware Valley? "Washington's Crossing" by David Hackett Fischer recounts this pivotal event that changed the course of the Revolutionary War. Many Americans have heard about the crossing or seen the famous painting of the event, but don't know why it took place or the outcome (the tide turned in America's favor after American troops defeated Hessian and British troops at the Battles of Trenton and Princeton).

Fischer's forte is in his adept use of detail and narrative style in telling this little known story in American history.

In her honest, funny and moving memoir, "My Extraordinary Ordinary Life," Sissy Spacek, who was born on Christmas Day in 1949, relates the details of her life -- beginning with her childhood growing up in a small east Texas town.

After moving to New York to pursue a singing career, she changed her focus to acting. Her career took off after her star-making turn in the classic Brian dePalma film, "Carrie," for which she received an Oscar nomination. She won an Academy Award in "Coal Miner's Daughter" for her portrayal of Loretta Lynn and also earned a Grammy nomination for her rendition of Lynn's songs in the film.

The late Rod Serling, best known as the creator of the classic science fiction television series, "The Twilight Zone," was born Dec. 25, 1924. You can check out original episodes on DVDs, or read about the series in books like "Rod Serling and the Twilight Zone: the 50th Anniversary Tribute" by Douglas Brode and "The Twilight Zone Companion" by Marc Scott Zicree. Brode's book is a critical study about the cultural appeal of the series while Zicree's title is an illustrated guide to all five seasons.

Born Dec. 25, 1899, and only 57 when he died of lung cancer more than 50 years ago, Humphrey Bogart remains a film icon to generations of movie aficionados. The title of Stefan Kanfer's book, "Tough Without a Gun: the Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of Humphrey Bogart" refers to a quote by Raymond Chandler who, pleased with the casting of "Bogie" in "The Big Sleep," said he was "Tough without a gun."

Kanfer writes about Bogart's personal life and provides film criticism and behind the scenes anecdotes related to such classic movies as "The Maltese Falcon," "High Sierra," "The Big Sleep," "The African Queen" and, of course, "Casablanca." This book differs from other biographies because it also examines how his persona radiated "integrity, stoicism, sexual charisma accompanied by a cool indifference to women has never gone out of style."

The library offers monthly email newsletters, called NextReads, with a selection of genres to choose from; each lists several books, new and classics, as well as library events. Sign up from the library website.

Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday. Access the library online at www.mymanatee.org/library.html. Fran Barba is a reference librarian in the Manatee County Public Library System.

Bradenton Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service