(Welcome to the second installment of literary characters who transcend the page to become true cultural icons. These are the characters that have infused themselves into the culture (music, movies, comic books, games, TV, etc.). They have integrated themselves so deeply into our society that many people have never even read the original books that made them famous -- but are intimately familiar with them anyway. DaRK PaRTY presents Part 2 of "The Legends of Literature." Today we give you the junior varsity squad. In Part 3, we'll present the titans of children's literature and comic books.)
Long John Silver Claim to fame: One of the most fearsome pirates on the open seas who became the arch-type for all pirate characters in literature, film and television Created by: Robert Louis Stevenson Born: 1881 First appearance: “Treasure Island” (novel) Appearance in a nutshell: A peg-leg with a parrot on his shoulder Supporting players: Jim Hawkins (friend), Captain Flint (his boss), Billy Bones Enemy: Jim Hawkins, Captain Alexander Smollet, Dr. Livesey Quote: “Silver for captain!” Tidbit: The character of Long John Silver has been portrayed by actors such as Orson Welles, Charlton Heston, Jack Palance and Tim Curry.
Three Musketeers Claim to fame: A team of French musketeers who set the stage of swordsman heroes and the concept of heroic teams rather than just an individual Created by: Alexandre Dumas Born: 1844 First appearance: “The Three Musketeers” (novel) Appearance in a nutshell: Floppy hats, high boots and swords Supporting players: d’Artagnan (the fourth musketeer) Enemy: The Cardinal Quote: “All for one and one for all!” Tidbit: Dumas wanted to name d’Artagnan Nathaniel d’Artagnan, but on advice from a friend dropped the first name.
Tom Sawyer Claim to fame: The arch-type for precocious juvenile rapscallions and for conning his friends into whitewashing a fence for him. Created by: Mark Twain Born: 1876 First appearance: “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” (novel) Appearance in a nutshell: Curly hair under a floppy hat and barefeet Supporting players: Huckleberry Finn (best friend), Becky Thatcher (girlfriend) Enemy: Injun Joe Quote: "Now that'll learn you. Better look out who you're fooling with next time." Tidbit: The rock band Rush had a hit song called “Tom Sawyer.”
Conan the Barbarian Claim to fame: The arch-type for the fighter character in Dungeons & Dragons and the model for heroes of brawn rather than intelligence Created by: Robert E. Howard Born: 1932 First appearance: “The Phoenix on the Sword“ (short story) Appearance in a nutshell: Muscle-bound warrior with long black hair2 Supporting players: Various Enemy: Various Quote: “Crom!” Tidbit: The character of Conan has been featured in TV shows, movies, computer games, Saturday morning cartoons and comic books, most notably by Marvel Comics
Oliver Twist Claim to fame: Opened the eyes of the 19th century Britons to the conditions of workhouses and the wrongs of child labor. One of the prototype for an innocent being abused by society Created by: Charles Dickens Born: 1838 First appearance: “Oliver Twist” (novel) Appearance in a nutshell: A ragamuffin with fingerless gloves Supporting players: The Artful Dodger (friend), Rose Maylie (aunt) Enemy: Fagin, Bill Sikes, Mr. Bumble Quote: “Please, sir, May I have some More?” Tidbit: The musical “Oliver!” won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1968.
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde Claim to fame: Vividly brought the concept of split personality into popular culture Created by: Robert Louis Stevenson Born: 1886 First appearance: “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (novella) Appearance in a nutshell: An English gentleman and a monstrous brute Supporting players: Gabriel John Utterson (friend), Jekyll’s butler, Richard Enfield Enemy: Gabriel John Utterson Quote: “Here then, as I lay down the pen and proceed to seal up my confession, I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end.” Tidbit: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were the inspiration for the villain Two-Face in the Batman comic books
Uncle Tom Claim to fame: Create the racial stereotype of the passive and loyal black servant. The term “Uncle Tom” is now a pejorative to indicate any African American who buckles under to white authority. Created by: Harriet Beecher Stowe Born: 1852 First appearance: “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (novel) Appearance in a nutshell: Elderly, submissive black slave with white hair Supporting players: Eliza (slave), Eva (little girl), Topsy (slave girl), Arthur Shelby (master) Enemy: Simon Legree (slave-owner) Quote: “Sold me down the river.” Tidbit: Avery Brooks, the tough guy actor who portrayed Hawk on the “Spencer: For Hire” TV series once played the character Uncle Tom in a TV movie.
Hamlet Claim to fame: The Danish prince who may have been the first Goth Created by: William Shakespeare Born: 1600 First appearance: “The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark” (play) Appearance in a nutshell: Young, thin, morose Supporting players: Ghost (father), Ophelia (girlfriend), Horatio (friend) Enemy: Claudius (King and uncle), Gertrude (Queen and mother) Quote: “To be or not to be.” Tidbit: Believe it or not, but the comedy “Strange Brew” was loosely adapted from “Hamlet.”
Frodo Baggins Claim to fame: Responsible for making “hobbit” a household term and for making creating fantasy fiction. Created by: J.R.R. Tolkien Born: 1937 First appearance: “The Fellowship of the Ring” (novel) Appearance in a nutshell: Small, curly haired halfling with hairy feet Supporting players: Gandalf (wizard), Aragorn (ranger), Sam (friend), Bilbo (uncle) Enemy: Sauron, Saruman Quote: “Free Frodo” (button popular in the 1960s) Tidbit: Led Zeppelin wrote three classic rock songs that reference “Lord of the Rings” – “Ramble On,” “The Battle of Evermore” and “Misty Mountain Hop.”
Dr. Hannibal Lector Claim to fame: The most famous serial killer and cannibal in fiction Created by: Thomas Harris Born: 1981 First appearance: “Red Dragon” (novel) Appearance in a nutshell: Bears a striking resemblance to Anthony Hopkins (also has six fingers on one hand) Supporting players: Buffalo Bill (serial killer), Tooth Fairy (tooth fairy), Clarice Starling (FBI agent), Jack Crawford (FBI agent) Enemy: FBI, police Quote: “Quid pro quo.” Tidbit: Brian Cox was the first actor to play Hannibal the Cannibal on screen in the movie “Manhunter.”
Don Juan Claim to fame: The greatest seducer of women in literature. His name has come to mean any ladies man. Created by: Legend Born: 1620? First appearance: The Playboy of Seville (fable) Appearance in a nutshell: Handsome, sly lover with raised eyebrows Supporting players: Various Enemy: Various Quote: I want a hero: an uncommon want/ When every year and month sends forth a new one/ Till, after cloying the gazettes with cant/ The age discovers he is not the true one/ Of such as these I should not care to vaunt/ I'll therefore take our ancient friend Don Juan.” (from Byron) Tidbit: Lord Byron’s died before his famous poem about Don Juan was completed.