42 years ago today, 'Lord of the Rings' creator, J.R.R. Tolkein died

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The Late Christopher Lee Once Met Tolkien at an Oxford Pub

Forty-two years ago today on September 2, 1973, the world lost literary great J.R.R. Tolkien, creator of the famed "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" series.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892 in South Africa and raised in England. He graduated from Oxford, served in World War I and went on to become a professor at his alma mater.

During his time as a professor, he began working on the mystical novel that became the world-wide phenomenon we know today. When Tolkien was grading papers one day at Oxford, he randomly wrote the phrase, "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit," atop a blank sheet of paper.

J R R Tolkien
The rest is history. Tolkien went on to create his first novel "The Hobbit" published in 1937. Almost twenty years later, the sequel "The Lord of the Rings" followed in three volumes, in 1954 and 1955.

The novels were met with raving reviews, and Tolkien became an instant classic. The professor retired from teaching in 1959, and was graced with more and more literary fame until his death on September 2, 1973 at age 81.

It was another 28 years after Tolkien's death before the first "Hobbit" movie premiered. Today, there have been six installments of "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit:"

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Lord of the Rings in pop culture
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42 years ago today, 'Lord of the Rings' creator, J.R.R. Tolkein died
Finnish sand sculptor Pasi Ahokas carves the 'Gollum' character from the movie 'Lord of the Rings' as preparations are under way for a sand sculpture festival in Binz on the Baltic island of Ruegen, northeastern Germany, on March 17, 2015. Carvers from all over the World create sculptures from 16,000 tons of special sand for the festival themed 'TV and Movie'. The festival starts on March 21, 2015. AFP PHOTO / DPA / STEFAN SAUER +++ GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read STEFAN SAUER/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 25: Cosplayer dressed as Gandalf from 'Lord Of The Rings' at the San Diego Convention Center on Day 2 of Comic-Con International 2014 on July 25, 2014 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 31: Lego The Lord of the Rings The Mines of Moria set at the launch of Dream Toys 2012 at St Mary's Church on October 31, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
The screening of 'The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers' with Howard Shore's score performed live at Radio City Music Hall on Friday night, October 8, 2010.Actors Sean Astin (left) and Elijah Wood are on the screen.Ludwig Wicki conducted the 21st Century Orchestra, the Dessoff Symphonic Choir and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus.(Photo by Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images)
Visitors try out the 'Lord of the Rings Aragorn's Quest' at the 2010 E3 Expo in Los Angeles, on June 16, 2010. Typically a stage for new blockbuster titles, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) this year will also be an arena where Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo duel with motion-sensing controls for rival PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii consoles. AFP PHOTO / VALERIE MACON (Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)
ICEMAN---01/01/02----Frodo Baggins is a cool customer. The annual ice sculpture display at Nathan Phillips Square featured the Lord of the Rings theme in Toronto, January 1, 2001. (Photo by Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Burger King selling action figures that light up and talk, in comjunction with promotions for Lord Of The Rings movie. (Photo by Mike Slaughter/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Ice_kf_122702_Photo076252 FIRE AND ICE. Julian Bayley 'polishes' an ice sculpture at Nathan Philips Square. The theme for all the ice sculptures this year is The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers to coincide with the sponsors' (Alliance Motion Picture distribution) current film release. Polishing the sculpture is accomplished by using a large blow torch to melt the outside of each sculture to give it the translucent effect. A team of eight ice artists took three days to carve the main exhibit from fifty blocks of ice. It had to be cut into forty pieces and shipped to Nathan Philip Square for reassembly. The Designs in Ice competition is athree day ice carving exhibition and competition running Dec. 27-29. Over 20,000 kg of ice will be transformed over the next three days. The public is invited to vote for the People's Choice award. (Photo by Ken Faught/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
CHENGDU, CHINA - DECEMBER 4: (CHINA OUT) A visitor admires a prop used in movie 'The Lord of the Rings' during the 'The Exceptional Exhibition' at the Sichuan Museum on December 4, 2009 in Chengdu of Sichuan Province, China. New Zealand special-effects guru Richard Taylor has organised to bring his five Oscar statues and props used in movies 'King Kong' and 'The Lord of the Rings' to take part in 'The Exceptional Exhibition' at the Sichuan Museum, which kicks off today and runs through January 15. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)
LONDON - JUNE 19: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) (L-R) Michael Therriault, James Loye and Peter Howe with Laura Michelle Kelly pose backstage at the opening night of 'Lord Of The Rings', at the Theatre Royal on June 19, 2007 in London, England. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)
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