This is the fourth installment in my occasional march through the history of our field. Make sure you have your comfortable shoes on.
Under the name William Arden, Lynds also wrote fourteen books in The Three Investigators series, which I always enjoyed much more than the Hardy Boys.
January 15, 1945. On this date the Alfred Knopf publishing house started the Black Widow Thrillers, series. It was perhaps the first attempt to canonize mystery fiction, creating a set of standard issue reprints of classic novels. The first to arrive were Hammett's Maltese Falcon, Chandler's Big Sleep, and Ambler's Coffin for Dimitros. Hey, Hammett is in three entries in a row. Is that a trend?
January 15, 1965. On this date a certain famous person rang a certain famous doorbell...
January 15, 1973. This was the year ABC gave up on trying to find a talk show host who could compete with Johnny Carson. They chose instead to fill their late night slot with ABC's Wide World of Entertainment. On this night they introduced one segment of it, a series of 90-minute movies called Wide World of Mystery.
While many of the stories bordered on the bizarre, none were stranger than "The Werewolf of Woodstock," which aired January 24, 1975. Set in 1969 (obviously) it concerns a bitter, alcoholic farmer who loathes the younger generation, particularly those who attended Woodstock, which was staged near his property and left the place trashed. During a freak electrical storm he takes a direct hit from a lightning bolt; instead of killing him... it turns him into a werewolf! In his new bestial form he goes on a rampage against anyone he deems a "hippie," chiefly the members of a garage band who come to the site to record their own album (so they can claim it was "recorded at Woodstock").
If this makes you desperate to see the movie (produced by Dick Clark!) there are excerpts available here and here. Perhaps that is as much as a human being can stand. The series ended in 1976, and personally I don't miss it a bit.
January 15, 1981. I remember exactly where I was that evening: watching the premiere of a great cop show on TV. Remember Hill Street Blues? It received 98 Emmy nominations. Hell, even its theme song was a hit.
January 15, 1993. This day saw the publication of Generous Death, Nancy Pickard's first novel. (Well, her first published one. She wrote one before this but, as she said, it "just sat there like a dead trout.") Since then she has won multiple awards including the Shamus, Macavity, Anthony, and Agatha