Sunday, July 08, 2007

Happy birthday, John Ball.

John Ball, the creator of detective Virgil Tibbs, was born today in 1911. He died in 1988.

He won an Edgar for the first Tibbs book, In the Heat of the Night (1965), which was followed by The Cool Cottontail (1966), Johnny Get Your Gun (1969), Five Pieces of Jade (1972; Edgar nominee), The Eyes of Buddha (1976), "One for Virgil Tibbs" (EQMM, 1976), "Virgil Tibbs and the Cocktail Napkin" (1979), Then Came Violence (1980), "Virgil Tibbs and the Fallen Body" (1982), and Singapore (1986). Said Ball in Twentieth-Century Crime and Mystery Writers, "I am not a 'message' author, but I believe in building books on ideas. For example, the idea behind In the Heat of the Night is that in any group of men a WASP is not necessarily the best qualified person present."

Here are short excerpts from Ray Charles's "In the Heat of the Night" and Quincy Jones's "They Call Me Mister Tibbs." And here's Sidney Poitier saying the most famous line of the film version of In the Heat of the Night (1967).

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