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Stephen King is practically synonymous with the horror genre. The hugely prolific author has churned out dozens of novels in addition to a number of short stories and non-fiction works. His books have sold more than 350 million copies worldwide, and many of them been adapted into popular feature films, miniseries, television series and comic books, including “Misery,” “The Shining,” “Carrie,” and “The Dark Tower.”
And at 70-years-old, King shows no signs of stopping.
The recent film adaptation of his masterpiece “It” is killing at the box office, on its way to surpass “The Exorcist” to become the highest-grossing R-rated horror film in history.
In honor of the spooky mastermind’s 70th birthday on Sept. 21 and his most recent film success, we’re counting down nine of the most interesting facts about Stephen King.
1. He loves the Red Sox.
You may not think that someone as productive as King has time to devote to sports, but he’s a diehard Red Sox fan. He can often be spotted at Fenway Park cheering on his favorite team and even wrote a book along with fellow author Stewart O’Nan about their 2004 World Series-winning season, “Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Rex Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season.”
2. He was once in a band.
The multi-talented King can do more than just pen a good scary story. From 1992 until 2012, King was a member of the Rock Bottom Remainders, a rock band comprised entirely of famous writers, including Amy Tan (“Joy Luck Club”), humor columnist Dave Barry and “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening. King played rhythm guitar during his tenure in the band.
3. He owns a radio station.
Along with his wife, Tabitha, King is part-owner of Zone Radio. The company is based in Bangor, Maine and is home to three stations, including 100.3 WKIT FM, a classic rock station known as “Stephen King’s WKIT 100.3.”
— WKIT 100.3 FM (@WKIT1003FM) August 19, 2016
4. He’s suffered from addiction.
Throughout the 1980s, King struggled with both alcohol and drug abuse. “I started drinking by age 18. I realized I had a problem around the time that Maine became the first state in the nation to pass a returnable-bottle-and-can law,” he told Rolling Stone in 2014.
King willingly admits to being drunk or high when composing some his best-known works, but his family eventually staged an intervention, and the author has now been sober since the late 1980s.
5. He worked as a dry cleaner and an English teacher before becoming a successful writer.
Before he struck it big, Stephen King was a regular joe, working as a high school English teacher. When asked if he had never made it as a writer, would he have continued to teach, he told The Atlantic:
“Yes, but I would have gotten a degree in elementary ed. I was discussing that with my wife just before I broke through with ‘Carrie.’ Here’s the flat, sad truth: By the time they get to high school, a lot of these kids have already closed their minds to what we love. I wanted to get to them while they were still wide open.”
6. His wife is partly responsible for the success of “Carrie.”
King’s breakthrough novel, “Carrie,” almost never was. He threw the first draft of the novel that would launch his career in the trash, but it was his wife, Tabitha King, who convinced him to give it another shot. Thirty publishers rejected it, but King eventually found success with Doubleday Publishing, and the rest is history.
7. He’s not happy with the film version of “The Shining.”
The film adaptation of King’s “The Shining,” starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall, was hugely popular with critics and audiences alike. However, King himself thinks the movie is sexist.
“The book is hot, and the movie is cold; the book ends in fire, and the movie in ice…And it’s so misogynistic. I mean, Wendy Torrance is just presented as this sort of screaming dishrag. But that’s just me, that’s the way I am,” he told Rolling Stone in 2014. Ouch!
8. He’s not a Trump supporter.
The author has been blocked by President Trump on Twitter, and he recently retaliated by “banning” Trump from seeing his latest flick, “It.”
“Donald Trump blocked me on Twitter. I am hereby blocking him from seeing “It “or “Mr. Mercedes.” No clowns for you, Donald. Go float yourself,” King wrote on the site.
Donald Trump blocked me on Twitter. I am hereby blocking him from seeing IT or MR. MERCEDES. No clowns for you, Donald. Go float yourself.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) August 25, 2017
9. He received an award from President Barack Obama.
In 2014, King received the National Medal of the Arts from then-President Barack Obama for his lifetime achievement in literature. “I guess I’m going to be awarded the National Medal of Arts,” King tweeted at the time. “I’m amazed and grateful. Congratulations to all my fellow honorees!”
What’s your favorite work of horror by Stephen King? Let us know in the comments!