61 years ago today: ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’ was released

11.11.15 2 years ago

George Allen & Unwin

61 years ago today, J.R.R. Tolkien”s “Lord of the Rings” continued with the release of its second volume, “The Two Towers.” That November release followed that summer”s debut of “The Fellowship of the Ring,” which came nearly two decades after “The Hobbit” hit shelves in 1937.

Tolkien”s epic tale of Middle-earth continued in this second volume, introducing readers to Treebeard and his fellow Ents, to the realm of Rohan and to Gríma Wormtongue.  

The third “Lord of the Rings” volume, “The Return of the King” was released in October 1955, so fans had to wait nearly 12 months to find out what happened after the cliffhanger of “Two Towers,” which ends with Samwise realizing that Frodo had not been killed by Shelob”s venomous sting, as it had appeared, but merely drugged. “Frodo was alive but taken by the Enemy,” the book ends.

Rayner Unwin, the books” publisher, later said, “For the first and only time in my experience, we received letters from individual readers imploring us to put them out of their misery and publish ‘The Return of the King.””

The Peter Jackson film adaptation of “Two Towers” was released in 2002, delivering the big screen take on the Battle of Helms Deep and Gandalf”s dire fight in free-fall with the Balrog in the mines of Moria. It became the highest-grossing film released that year and earned six Academy Award nominations.

Other notable November 11 happenings in pop culture history:

• 1960: “The Twilight Zone” episode “Eye of the Beholder,” with one of the show”s most memorable twists, aired for the first time on CBS.

• 1972: Allman Brothers Band founding member Berry Oakley died at age 24 in a motorcycle accident in Macon, Ga.

• 1978: The Rolling Stones” “Beast of Burden” peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song spent a total of 13 weeks on the chart.

• 1989: Melissa Etheridge and Joe Cocker performed for Germans celebrating the recent destruction of the Berlin Wall.

• 1993: The Walt Disney Company announced plans to build a U.S. history theme park in Virginia. The project was canceled the following year due to local opposition. 

• 1994: The film adaptation of “Interview with the Vampire” opened in theaters. Tim Allen”s “The Santa Clause” was released on the same day.

• 2000: Creed”s “With Arms Wide Open” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

• 2008: Taylor Swift”s seconds studio album, “Fearless,” was released.

• 2011: “Skyrim,” the fifth installment in the “Elder Scrolls” series, was released. It went on to receive Game of the Year honors from GameSpot, IGN and the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.

Birthdays: “Titanic” actor Leonardo DiCaprio (turns 41 today), “Revenge” actress Christa B. Allen (24), “Flags of Our Fathers” actor Adam Beach (43), The Yardbirds bassist and rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja (70), “Ally McBeal” actress Calista Flockhart (51), “Argo” actor Scoot McNairy (38), “Ghost” actress Demi Moore (53), “Mud” actor Tye Sheridan (19), “The Devil Wears Prada” actor Stanley Tucci (55)

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