THE PRINTED PAGE

February 23rd in history:

Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press and movable type made mass production of books popular. The first mass printing of the Gutenberg Bible began on February 23rd, 1455.

The power of the press was demonstrated in the Dreyfus Affair in France.  On this date in 1898, author Emile Zola was convicted of libel for writing a newspaper letter headlined “J’accuse!”  Zola accused leaders of the French Army of falsely convicting officer Alfred Dreyfus for spying, partly because Dreyfus was Jewish.  As a result of the letter and Zola’s trial, the Dreyfus case was reopened, and Dreyfus eventually was freed from prison and exonerated.

“The Life of Emile Zola” took the Oscar for Best Picture of 1937, defeating two movies by director Victor Fleming…”Captains Courageous,” and “The Good Earth.”  Fleming, born on February 23rd, 1889, had better luck in the 1939 Oscar race, as director of both “Gone With the Wind” and “The Wizard of Oz.”  Fleming was named Best Director for “Gone With The Wind,” which also won Best Picture.

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