Hollywood Spotlight: Stephen King

150 views October 3, 2017 2:00 PM

Image: The Movie Waffler

This week, our Hollywood Spotlight is on Stephen King! As the author celebrated his birthday two weeks ago, we take a look back on his literary legacy, focusing on the novels that turned into television series or movies!

On September 21, 1947, an author whose name would someday become “a name to know” in the literary world was born. Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine to parents Donald Edwin King and Nellie Ruth. He has an older brother named David King. While he was still a toddler, his father left the family, leaving his mother to care for him and his older brother. As a child, the family moved around a lot before returning to Maine and settling there when King was 11 years old.

During his youth, he became immensely interested in literature and would frequently be seen reading horror comics, further sparking his vivid imagination and prompting him to begin writing while still in high school. It was at this time that he would pass the stories he wrote on to his brother, who would then publish them in a newspaper called Dave's Rag. Shortly after in 1965, his first story was officially published in Comics Review, it was titled I Was a Teenage Grave Robber. He also won a Scholastic Art and Writing Award during high school.

In the late 1960s, he attended the University of Maine where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1970. While he was studying in 1967, he sold his first story, titled The Glass Floor to Startling Mystery Stories. After earning a degree, he was unable to find a teaching job, thus leading him to continue writing and submitting pieces to various men's magazines, including Cavalier. In 1973, his novel Carrie was published by Doubleday. This was his first published novel, a novel that, at the time, only garnered him $2,500 but would someday earn him close to half a million dollars.

He then went on to publish Salem's Lot in 1975, which was originally titled Second Coming and Jerusalem's Lot. The year before, in 1974, King's mother passed away of cancer, which led to his move to Boulder, Colorado. While in Colorado, he wrote The Shining, which would someday become a best-selling novel. In 1975, he also published The Stand, after he and his family returned home to Maine.

In the late 1970s, King would write and publish a series of novels titled The Dark Tower, which would later become a television series and movie. The first story was titled The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger and was published by The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in five installments between 1977 and 1981. The stories then became an eight-novel series which King would publish over the span of 40 years.

In 1986, King published It, which sold over one million copies, making it his most successful book to date. During the late 1970s and 1980s, he published several short novels, including The Running Man, Thinner, Rage, and Roadwork under the name Richard Bachman. He published several other novels under the names Beryl Evans and John Swithen.

At the turn of the century, King began publishing his stories online. Several of his digitally published stories include The Plant, Cell, Riding the Bullet, Just After Sunset, Duma Key, Ur, Throttle, Dual, Under the Dome which became a television series, Blockade Billy, Full Dark, No Stars, Joyland, amongst others. In 2011, he published 11/22/63, which later became a Hulu original series starring James Franco, Chris Cooper, Sarah Gadon, and Daniel Webber. In 2012, he published the eighth book in The Dark Tower series titled The Wind Through the Keyhole. The following year, he published the sequel to The Shining titled Doctor Sleep.

His most recent novels are Finders Keepers, End of Watch, a collection of stories titled The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, and this year, he will publish Sleeping Beauties.

Over the last five decades, King's novels have become so popular that many of them have been turned into television series or films. Thus far, there have been close to 70 film adaptations of his novels and short stories. Several of which include “Carrie” (1976 and 2013), “The Shining” (1980), “Children of the Corn” (1984), “The Running Man” (1987), “Pet Sematary” (1989), “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994), “Dolores Claiborne” (1995), “Thinner” (1996), “The Green Mile” (1999), “Dreamcatcher” (2003), “1408” (2007), “The Mist” (2007), “Cell” (2016), “The Dark Tower” (2017), “It” (2017), “Gerald's Game” (2017), “Children of the Corn: Runaway” (2017), “1922” (2017), and “It: Chapter Two”, set for cinematic release in 2019.

As for television, there have been over 30 series that are based on his novels or short stories, including “Salem's Lot” (1979), “It” (1990), “The Dead Zone” (2002-2007), “Carrie” (2002), “Kingdom Hospital” (2004), “Desperation” (2006), “Children of the Corn” (2009), “Nightmares and Dreamscapes” (2006), “Haven” (2010-2015), “Bag of Bones” (2011), “Under the Dome” (2013-2015), “11.22.63” (2016), “The Mist” (2017), “Mr. Mercedes” (2017), plus “Castle Rock” and “The Dark Tower” coming in 2018.

Here are some more fun facts about Stephen King:

  • King married Tabitha Spruce in 1971. Tabitha was also a student at the University of Maine.
  • Together, they have three children: Naomi, Joseph Hillstrom, and Owen King.
  • During the 1970s and 1980s, he developed a severe drinking problem, along with an addiction to drugs. During the late 1980s, he quit drinking, smoking, and taking drugs and has since remained sober.
  • After becoming sober, he wrote Needful Things.
  • His wife, Tabitha, has published 9 of her own novels.
  • King starred in the 2005 baseball film “Fever Pitch”. He is an avid baseball fan and supports the Boston Red Sox.
  • King and his wife own three properties: two in Maine and one in Florida for the cold winter seasons.

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