Chuck Miller (1952-2015)

Chuck Miller at the 1982 World Fantasy Convention. Photo by and copyright © Andrew I. Porter

Chuck Miller at the 1982 World Fantasy Convention. Photo by and copyright © Andrew I. Porter

Chuck Miller, of Underwood-Miller, one of the top fantasy and science fiction small press publishers from the 1970s through the 1990s, passed away on May 24 from multiple organ failure.

Chuck, whose full name was Charles Franklin Miller II, was a fixture at East Coast science fiction conventions. His knowledge of science fiction, comics, and movies was unparalleled.

Miller and Tim Underwood founded the Underwood-Miller small press firm in 1976. Their first book was a hardcover edition of Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth (originally published in 1950). They would produce many other editions of Vance’s work, as well as several nonfiction anthologies about the work of Stephen King, and a five-volume edition of The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick (1987). Their partnership ended in 1994.

Underwood-Miller was nominated for the World Fantasy Award in publishing five times, winning once in 1994, and Chuck Miller and Tim Underwood received a Milford Award for lifetime achievement in publishing that same year.

Chuck Miller and Tim Underwood’s Fear Itself: The Horror Fiction of Stephen King was a 1983 Hugo nominee for Best Nonfiction Book.

Miller’s funeral will be held on Friday, May 29, at 10 a.n. at the Kraft Funeral Home, 519 Walnut St., Columbia, PA 17512.

 [Thanks to Annette Klause for the story.]

Tanith Lee (1947-2015)

Tanith Lee.  Photo by and copyright © Andrew I. Porter

Tanith Lee. Photo by and copyright © Andrew I. Porter

Tanith Lee, renowned British sf, horror and fantasy author, passed away May 24. She was 67.

Lee published over 90 novels and 300 short stories. She also wrote two episodes Blake’s 7 for the BBC.

Lee’s short fiction won two World Fantasy Awards (“The Gorgon,” 1983, and “Elle Est Trois, (La Mort),” 1984). She was the first woman to win the British Fantasy Award best novel award, for Death’s Master (1980).

Her first professional sale was “Eustace,” a 90 word vignette which appeared in The Ninth Pan Book Of Horror Stories (1968), edited by Herbert van Thal. That same year, a friend set in type one of her early short stories as an experiment with his printing press. According to Lee “there were about six copies” of the resulting book, titled The Betrothed. A copy was sent to the British Museum, which caused it to be listed in the British Museum General Catalogue Of Printed Books to the consternation of future collectors and bibliographers…

Tanith Lee was named a World Horror Grandmaster in 2009 by a vote of the World Horror Con membership. The World Fantasy Awards recognized her for Lifetime Achievement in 2013, and the Horror Writers Association gave her its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.

Anne Meara (1929-2015)

Actress Anne Meara passed away May 23 at the age of 85.

She worked a great deal in TV – her first role was in 1954 — though rarely in sf or fantasy programs.

In the Vincent Price/Coral Browne vehicle Time Express (1979), where they were the sophisticated hosts of a train that took its passengers back in time to relive an important moment of their lives, Meara played “the Garbage Man’s wife” opposite her real-life husband and comedy partner Jerry Stiller.

The cast of Time Express.

The cast of Time Express.

She appeared in 8 episodes of Alf and even wrote an episode.

In Highway To Hell (1991), a comedy film which also featured her husband and their children, Ann and Ben, Meara was cast as a waitress at Pluto’s. And she shared the screen with Ben Stiller again in Night at the Museum (2006).

She and Jerry Stiller initially gained fame as the comedy team “Stiller and Meara.” They were members of the improvisational company, the Compass Players, which later became SCTV (1976).

Eric Caidin Dies

Eric Caidin

Eric Caidin. Photo by Jessie Lilley.

Eric Caidin of Hollywood Book & Poster Co. died May 18 reports Los Angeles Magazine. He died after attending a film noir at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Caidin opened his Hollywood Boulevard store in 1977 where he reputedly had more than a half-million photos, lobby cards and scripts in stock.

In January he moved the shop to a warehouse in the San Fernando Valley and became an online and by-appointment business, while continuing to sell at West Coast and other conventions.

He appeared in small roles in the movies Hellroller, Prison Ship, Cannibal Hookers, and The Aftermath. Caidin appeared as himself in the documentaries Texas Frightmare Weekend 2006, Confessions of Lemora, and Flying Saucers Over Hollywood: The ‘Plan 9′ Companion.

[Thanks to James H. Burns for the story.]

Jannick Storm (1939-2015)

Jannick Storm

Jannick Storm

Danish author, critic and translator Jannick Storm who, according to the dedication in Brian Aldiss’ Billion Year Spree, “colonised Denmark”, died May 9.

By the end of the 1950s attempts to introduce translated foreign sf into Denmark had failed, says John-Henri Holmberg in the Science Fiction Encyclopedia. Storm spent the 1960s working to re-establish the genre, writing and speaking about sf, especially its more experimental authors. In 1968 he began editing a line of sf in translation by such writers as J.G. Ballard, James Blish, Philip K. Dick, Frederik Pohl and Clifford Simak.

Storm’s Danish translation of Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition (1969) was the book’s first appearance in print. That same year he conducted a fascinating interview with Ballard for Speculation that ends with a bitter observation about fandom:

Storm: In SF Horizons, Brian Aldiss wrote that “Ballard is seldom discussed in fanzines.” Time has certainly proved him wrong, and now you are one of the most discussed people in fandom. What do you think of fandom itself?

Ballard: I didn’t know that was the case, because I never see any fanzines. I don’t have any contact with fans. My one and only contact with fandom was when I’d just started writing, which is twelve years ago, when the World Science Fiction Convention was being held in London, in 1957, and I went along to that as a young new writer hoping to meet people who were interested in the serious aims of science fiction and all its possibilities. In fact there was just a collection of very unintelligent people, who were almost illiterate, who had no interest whatever in the serious and interesting possibilities of science fiction. In fact I was so taken aback by that convention that I more or less stopped writing for a couple of years. Since then I’ve had absolutely nothing to do with fans, and I think they’re a great handicap to science fiction and always have been.

Storm began writing his own sf in the 1970s, with stories appearing in English in New Worlds and Ambit. In Denmark, his work appeared in literary magazines, anthologies, and his own magazine Limbo. His short fiction is collected in Miriam og andre (“Miriam and Others”) (1972) and Er mao død (“Is Mao Dead”) (1974).

Storm’s own book on science fiction, Vor tids eventyr: Katastrofe-området (1978; The Fairy Tales of Our Time: Disaster Area) returned Brian’s appreciation with the dedication, “To Brian W. Aldiss, who colonised ME.”

[Thanks to John-Henri Holmberg and Andrew Porter for the story.]

William Bast (1931-2015)

William Bast

William Bast

Versatile TV and screenwriter William Bast, best known for his two biographies of James Dean, died of complications of Alzheimer’s on May 4 at the age of 84.

His genre work included the Outer Limits episode “Moonstone” (1964).

He won an Edgar in 1976 for his television movie The Legend of Lizzie Borden starring Elizabeth Montgomery. In 1977 his script for the adaptation of The Man in the Iron Mask with Richard Chamberlain in a dual role received an Emmy nomination. His script for The Scarlet Pimpernel with Anthony Andrews and Ian McKellen was honored with a Christopher Award in 1982. The First Modern Olympics won him the Writers Guild of America Outstanding Script for Television Longform Series for 1984.

He was partnered in work and life to Paul Huson for 48 years. Their collaborations included The Big One: The Great Los Angeles Earthquake.

Grace Lee Whitney (1930-2015)

Grace Lee Whitney at a Star Trek convention in 1980.

Grace Lee Whitney at a Star Trek convention in 1980.

Grace Lee Whitney, the actress who played Yeoman Janice Rand on the original Star Trek series, died this weekend reports NBC News. She was 85.

She was a recovering alcoholic who spent the last 35 years of her life helping others complete 12-step programs, often at women’s correctional facilities or the Salvation Army.

During her acting career Whitney made more than a hundred television appearances, beginning with her 1953 debut in Cowboy G-Men.

Grace Lee Whitney in Some Like It Hot.

Grace Lee Whitney in Some Like It Hot.

She also made a number of movie appearances, including an uncredited role as a member of the all-female band in Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot (1959). She shared several scenes with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Marilyn Monroe, and was one of the partiers in the famed “upper berth” sequence. (She’s on the left at the 4:21 mark in this YouTube excerpt.)

Released from Star Trek six months into the first season, she later reprised her role in the successful Star Trek movies: Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). She also worked in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager (1996) and some peripheral Trek productions like Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II (2007), and Star Trek: Of Gods and Men (2007).

Apart from Star Trek, her genre work included an episode of Outer Limits (1964) and the two “King Tut” episodes of Batman (1967).

Whitney’s 1998 autobiography, The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy, covered her hiring and firing from Star Trek, her battle with addiction, and sidelights such as her being hired as the first Chicken of the Sea Mermaid.

Commenting on the tall, basketweave hairdo she wore as Yeoman Rand, she said: “It was so heavy it kept listing to the left, I swear they had to nail that thing to my head! It was gorgeous Max Factor hair. It cost a lot of money and somebody stole it. I still have visions of that damn wig turning up. I go down to Skid Row for my recovery program – I’m clean and sober now – and I keep expecting to find some bag lady or drag queen wearing it!”

[Thanks to David Klaus for the story.]

Nita Green Passes Away

Juanita “Nita” Green, Rose-Marie Lillian’s mother, died April 22, 2015 after suffering a devastating heart attack. She was 81.

Nita is remembered by many for her years in fandom and for the Apollo “launch parties” she hosted with then-husband Joseph L. Green. No funeral plans have yet been made.

[Thanks to Guy H. Lillian III for the story.]

Stan Burns (1947-2015)

Stan Burns, sometimes called “Staniel,” but never Marsdon Stanford Burns Jr. (though he was), died April 23 at his home in Riverside, CA. He had spent several months in sharply declining health due to pulmonary distress brought on by lung and diaphragm damage sustained in a 2012 auto accident.

Stan discovered science fiction at age 10 because his mother was trying to get him to read more. Asking a librarian for a recommendation, she took home a copy of Heinlein’s Have Space Suit, Will Travel. We can say — that sure worked!

He reached out to fandom and became a LASFS member in 1967 while writing a Cutural Anthropology paper for a course at the University of Southern California. Stan graduated with a BA in Psychology in 1970.

He attended his first Westercon (XX) in 1967 and his first Worldcon (Baycon) in 1968. While you always remember your first Worldcon, Stan had a better reason than most —

I had been in fandom a year and knew that the writers always gathered in the bar, so I went in. I sat down next to this woman who was softly crying, and asked her what was wrong. It was her first convention and she just had a story published, but no one knew who she was. Of course it was Anne McCaffrey. I was able to truthfully tell her that I had read and liked her Analog story. That stopped the tears. I like to think that I helped her to enjoy the convention but I think winning the Hugo probably helped too . . .

Besides reading, Stan’s other passion was photography. He became the official photographer at Equicon, Filmcon, LACon I and III, many Loscons. His photos of Star Trek personalities were published in David Gerrold’s The World of Star Trek (1973). For much of his life, he made his living repairing cameras.

Burns ST photos

I joined LASFS three years after Stan. Our shared sercon interests gave us a lot to talk about and we became good friends. He wrote many book reviews for my early fanzines Prehensile and Scientifriction. And Stan’s satire “Ten Million Clichés From Earth” was a real masterpiece. I published it in Scientifriction in May 1975. At the time I was enrolled in Theodore Sturgeon’s writing class at UCLA. I presented a copy to Sturgeon who enjoyed Stan’s humor thoroughly and read passages aloud to his students.

First meeting at the original LASFS clubhouse in 1973. Photo by Stan Burns. Back row, L to R:  Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Jerry Pournelle, A. E. Van Vogt, Forry Ackerman. Middle row, L to R:  Unknown, Harlan Ellison, Larry Niven, Wendayne Ackerman  Front row, L to R:  Unknown, Bill Mills, Ron Cobb.

First meeting at the original LASFS clubhouse in 1973. Photo by Stan Burns. Back row, L to R: Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Jerry Pournelle, A. E. Van Vogt, Forry Ackerman.
Middle row, L to R: Unknown, Harlan Ellison, Larry Niven, Wendayne Ackerman
Front row, L to R: Unknown, Bill Mills, Ron Cobb.

As the years passed, Stan felt he got less and less out of science fiction fandom, although he was still around at parties and conventions. He transferred his primary allegiance to mystery fandom, which seemed to reciprocate his love for the literature in a way sf fandom never had. He attended Bouchercons, produced a fanzine called Who Donut?, and was a loyal member of Dapa-Em, the mystery apa.

Stan Burns with Sue Grafton at Bouchercon in 2014.

Stan Burns with Sue Grafton at Bouchercon in 2014.

However, as I was researching this obituary I found to my surprise that Stan had resumed doing reviews of science fiction books late in life – for example, a 2011 post about Connie Willis’ All Clear.

He was also busy digitizing his slide collection. His last posts to Facebook were favorite photos he’d taken of flowers.

When Stan’s sister-in-law announced to his Facebook friends that he had passed away, she said Stan had generously arranged to have his body donated to UC Irvine School of Medicine and, later, his ashes will be cast upon the ocean.