By Steve Vertlieb: Remembering Sir Sean Connery, born August 25th, 1930, whose larger than life cinematic exploits, and joyous masculinity brought exhilaration, vibrant sexuality, and swashbuckling romance to the motion picture screen and who left us, sadly, on October 31st of last year.
Sean Connery, the iconic actor and super star whose irresistible presence on the motion screen happily dominated our lives for nearly sixty years died at age ninety. Few actors of his or any other generation possessed the wit, charisma, and staggering masculinity that this remarkably gifted actor brought to the screen. With the probable exception of Cary Grant, with whom Connery shared male dominance and magnetism, no other actor before or since has attracted both men and women with his nearly startling sexuality.
Born August 25, 1930, Connery achieved international recognition with his smoldering portrayal of Ian Fleming’s James Bond in Dr. No in 1962. Although he’d appeared in relatively minor parts in a variety of television and movie roles, it was his remarkable major screen debut as James Bond in 1962 that instantaneously, and deservedly, elevated him to super star status.
Connery followed his singular appearance as “Bond … James Bond” in Dr. No with six additional star turns as the invulnerable secret agent in From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (the definitive Bond thriller in 1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and, finally, in Never Say Never Again, (1983) whose clever title noted the irony of his having said repeatedly that he’d never play the part again. Having played Bond in seven motion pictures, Connery established himself as the definitive characterization of Fleming’s deadly British agent.
After this last performance as the impeccably tailored spy, Connery defied critics who’d complained about his being a single dimensional actor, by joyously emerging as one of the finest character actors of our time. In such films as Darby O’Gill and The Little People for Disney (1959), Marnie for Alfred Hitchcock (1964), The Hill (1965), The Anderson Tapes (1971), and Zardoz (1974), Connery proved to his critics that he was, indeed, a gifted, dangerously provocative performer.
Six of his most joyous, exquisitely layered performances followed in the years that lay before him. As the irascible, inherently masculine “Raisuli” in the enormously entertaining John Milius film The Wind And The Lion, Connery’s striking individuality quite literally lit the screen with his colorful interpretation as the leader of a noble Arab tribe, timed imaginatively by Jerry Goldsmith’s electrifying musical score.
As the sadly proud, yet vulnerable Robin Hood in Robin And Marian (1976), Connery showed rare sensitivity and elegance as the aging warrior whose difficulty transitioning from young rebel to graceful elder champion wove poetic lyricism to the legend of Robin, accompanied by composer John Barry’s wistfully romantic themes.
For John Huston’s epic 1975 film translation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King, the actor delivered one of his most delicious, multi-textured performances as a loveable rogue whose innocent aspirations to royalty, and desire to achieve something greater in his lifetime, leads to dire, unexpected consequences beyond his boyish vision, dreams, and hope filled enthusiasm.
In The Untouchables (1987) for director Brian De Palma, Sean Connery’s Oscar winning performance as “Malone,” the simple cop on the beat whose street intelligence and long tenured wisdom helped Eliot Ness bring down Capone, would at long last silence the critics who had cynically predicted his rapid departure and absence from the screen after leaving the lucrative “Bond” franchise.
For Steven Spielberg, Connery would deliver his most wonderful portrayal, perhaps, as the colorful, cantankerous Professor Henry Jones as Harrison Ford’s father in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1987), elevating another beloved franchise to sublime levels of joyous delight and perfection. Connery’s comedic gifts and unexpected pathos turned this third entry of the iconic film series into its most beloved chapter.
For First Knight (1995), a highly romanticized screen version of the Arthurian legend, Connery was at his most regal in his performance as literature’s legendary King Arthur. Bringing both nobility and grace to a classic role that only he, in suave maturity, could deliver, Connery once again brought quiet dignity and eloquence to the image of expiring royalty in the face of danger and finality.
Sean Connery has left us, but his indelible face and distinctive voice shall remain forever burned into the haunting imagery of the motion picture screen. We came alive in the sweet mirror of your artistry. Rest Well, Sir Sean. May angels sing you to your rest on this melancholy anniversary of your birth.
By Steve Vertlieb: 101 YEARS. As I remember what would have been his 101st birthday on August 22nd, my memories drift back to a time not that long ago when I was proud to think of one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century as my treasured pal.
Here is my affectionate tribute to cherished friend Ray Bradbury, whose loving presence occupied my world and my heart for nearly four decades. Ray was one of the most distinguished writers of the twentieth century and, with H.G. Wells, perhaps the most influential, legendary science fiction writer of the past one hundred years.
More importantly, however, Ray was a gentle little boy whose love of imagination, fantasy, and stories of other worlds influenced thousands of writers and millions of admirers all over the world. His monumental presence upon this planet warmed and inspired all who knew him, and I was honored to call him my friend for thirty-eight years.
By Steve Vertlieb: Here is, perhaps, the most exciting moment of my pilgrimage to Los Angeles and Hollywood, California two years ago. I’ve been a huge fan of character actor Nehemiah Persoff for some sixty years. We’d begun a degree of correspondence in May, 2019. I was watching an episode of tv’s The Untouchables during a televised weekend retrospective in the late Spring and there, of course, was the great Nehemiah appearing as a guest in three separate episodes of the classic television series.
I began to wonder whatever became of this marvelous actor and so, before retiring for the evening, I started to research Mr. Persoff’s whereabouts on my computer. As luck would have it, I found him and wrote him a rather hasty letter of personal and lifelong admiration. To my shock and utter astonishment, he responded within five minutes.
I told him that I was coming West in a few months, and wondered if there was even the most remote possibility that I could visit him, and personally pay my respects. Born in Palestine (now Jerusalem) on August 2, 1919, this gifted actor was then about to turn one hundred years old.
Mr. Persoff generously consented to a visit and so, on Wednesday, August 28, 2019, my brother Erwin and I commenced our long drive to his home. We spent two hours at the feet of this remarkable human being, and shared a virtual Master Class on the art and history of screen acting. He spoke reverently of working with Marlon Brando at The Actor’s Studio, and in On The Waterfront, as well as studying with Elia Kazan in the late nineteen forties.
When Billy Wilder was casting Some Like It Hot, he’d chosen Edward G. Robinson to play Little Bonaparte, opposite George Raft and Pat O’Brien. When the two had a falling out, however, someone suggested Nehemiah Persoff for the part. The rest, as “Some People Say,” is screen history. His hilariously venomous tirades against George Raft provide the classic comedy with some of its most iconic moments.
When Barbra Streisand sang the moving “Papa, Can You Hear Me” in Yentl, she was singing to Nehemiah Persoff in a performance that, I’d like to believe, most effortlessly captured this remarkable actor’s gentle soul. When Ms. Streisand was honored with a Life Achievement Award by The American Film Institute, Nehemiah Persoff rose memorably from his table, smiled sweetly at the actress, and said “Barbara, you’re just like a daughter to me … You never phone … You never write.” It was an adorable moment between these two stars from vastly different generations.
Mr. Persoff occupied countless memorable characterizations throughout the nineteen fifties, sixties, seventies, and eighties on television anthology series, most notably on both The Untouchables, and Naked City. He also voiced the lovely dialogue between father and son as “Papa Mousekewitz” in the beloved animated feature An American Tail in 1986.
However, it was his sensitive performance as Vladis Dvorovoi in an episode from the first season of Route 66, entitled “Incident On A Bridge,” that has become my favorite performance by the actor during a storied lifetime of fabled big and small screen appearances. Playing a troubled laborer who falls in love with Lois Smith, as a mute serving girl, provided this pioneering dramatic series with some of its most memorable moments in a haunting, nearly tragic variation of the classic “Beauty and the Beast” fantasy.
I shall remain forever grateful to have spent such joyous hours with this blessed soul … and for the gift of your friendship, dearest Nehemiah, I can only express my heartfelt gratitude. Wishing you a joyous, loving, and healthy 102nd Birthday. May God Bless and Keep You Safe.
The final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars was released to widespread critical acclaim, and now the animated series will look to pick up some new accolades. It was announced this week that the seventh season of The Clone Wars has received three nominations at the upcoming Daytime Emmy Awards.
The show will look to take home the trophies for Outstanding Writing Team for a Daytime Animated Program, Outstanding Music Direction and Composition for a Preschool, Children’s or Animated Program, and Outstanding Sound Mixing and Sound Editing for a Daytime Animated Program.
The winners in the Children’s Programming and Animation category will be announced in a stand-alone show streaming at 8 p.m. ET July 17 on the Emmy OTT platform.
FIYAH is partnering with the LeVar Burton Reads podcast for their first-ever writing contest! Do you write speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, horror)? Do you love the podcast? Have you dreamed of getting your work in front of THE LeVar Burton ever since the days of Reading Rainbow? Well, here’s your shot. We are looking for one special story to be featured in Season 10 of the podcast
The first place winner will receive $500 and the story will be read by LeVar Burton on an upcoming episode of the LeVar Burton Reads podcast. The second place winner gets $250, and the third place winner, $100.
Editors for this contest include Diana M. Pho and L. D. Lewis, with the final selection being made by LeVar himself. View full submission guidelines and contest rules here.
After over 50 years of rubbing shoulders with the giants of the entertainment industry, Steve Vertlieb’s resume reads like a cinephile’s dream. This week I speak with the award winning journalist and film historian about the cultural impact of Rod Serling and his seminal science fiction anthology series “The Twilight Zone”.
The late 1950s/early 1960s were a time of staunch conservatism in America. This ideology was prevalent in the mainstream entertainment Americans watched on their television sets and at the local cinema. Rod Serling was a man with a message but it wasn’t a message many at this time wanted to hear. A talented writer, Serling was also a student of history and he knew that to get a message through a fortress wall, sometimes you needed to give the gift of a Trojan horse. “The Twilight Zone” was that gift and in the guise of science fiction, black comedy and horror Rod Serling’s voice reached out to open the eyes, ears and hearts of a fascinated public. This week we welcome award winning journalist, film historian and archivist Steve Vertlieb to the show as we discuss the cultural impact of “The Twilight Zone” and how Rod Serling’s message is still relevant over 60 years after the show’s debut.
… I’m sure you could find many SFF novels about such fuddy-duddy tourism turning strange. There are also novels that up the stakes by marooning the protagonist far from home. This will certainly give the protagonist a way to display do-or-die determination by denying them any choice in the matter…
Consider these five works about castaways.
The Luck of Brin’s Five by Cherry Wilder (1977)
Travel on Torin is a simple matter of hopping into a convenient space-plane and jetting to some other location on the Earth-like world that orbits 70 Ophuichi. Or it would be, if Scott Gale had not just crashed his expedition’s only space-plane on the far side of Torin, near the Terran expeditionary base’s antipodes. Oops.
Torin’s native population is unaware that they have off-world visitors until Scott’s space-plane falls from the sky. To the family of weavers known as Brin’s Five, Scott could become their new Luck (an integral member of each Moruian family’s five-member structure). His arrival may save the weavers from misfortune and starvation.
To Great Elder Tiath Avran Pentroy, also known as Tiath Gargan (or Strangler), technologically superior aliens are an unwanted disruptive element. Best to quietly dispatch Scott before Strangler has to deal with the ramifications of alien contact. And if Brin’s Five are not public-minded enough to surrender their Luck? Why, they can be dispatched as well.
I am very happy to announce Toni Weisskopf, Publisher of Baen Books, as this year’s keynote speaker for the combined Writers and Illustrators of the Future 36/37 Awards Ceremony. Many of our past winners and current judges are published by Baen Books. Writers of the Future and Toni first connected up in 1989, when as a volunteer, she helped out at the Writers of the Future Awards Event in New York City. We are happy she will be back again!
(8) TIME ENOUGH FOR CATS. Did we mention there is a Japanese adaptation of Heinlein’s The Door Into Summer? Let’s make sure it hasn’t been overlooked by the Scroll:
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1999 — Twenty-two years ago, Charles Vess wins a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for the illustrated version of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust which was published by Vertigo the previous year. Gaiman of course shared in that Award. It would also win a World Fantasy Award as well.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 29, 1919 — Slim Pickens. Surely you remember his memorable scene as Major T. J. “King” Kong in Dr. Strangelove? I certainly do. And of course he shows up in Blazing Saddles as Taggart. He’s the uncredited voice of B.O.B in The Black Hole and he’s Sam Newfield in The Howling. He’s got some series genre work including several appearances on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, plus work on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Night Gallery. (Died 1983.)
Born June 29, 1920 — Ray Harryhausen. All-around film genius who created stop-motion model Dynamation animation. His work can be seen in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (his first color film) which was nominated for a Hugo at Detention, Jason and the Argonauts, Mighty Joe Young and Clash of the Titans. (Died 2013.)
Born June 29, 1943 — Maureen O’Brien, 78. Vicki, companion of the First Doctor. Some 40 years later, she reprised the role for several Big Finish Productions Doctor Who audio works. She had a recurring role as Morgan in The Legend of King Arthur, a late Seventies BBC series. Her Detective Inspector John Bright series has been well received.
Born June 29, 1947 — Michael Carter, 74. Best remembered for being Gerald Bringsley in An American Werewolf in London, Von Thurnburg in The Illusionist and Bib Fortuna in the Return of the Jedi. He plays two roles as a prisoner and as UNIT soldier in the Third Doctor story, “The Mind of Evil”.
Born June 29, 1950 — Michael Whelan, 71. I’m reasonably sure that most of the Del Rey editions of McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series was where I first noticed his artwork but I’ve certainly seen it elsewhere since. He did Heinlein’s The Cat Who Walks Through Walls cover which I love and many more I can’t recall right now. And there’s a wonderful collection of work available, Beyond Science Fiction: The Alternative Realism of Michael Whelan.
Born June 29, 1956 — David Burroughs Mattingly, 65. He’s an American illustrator and painter, best known for his numerous book covers of genre literature. Earlier in his career, he worked at Disney Studio on the production of The Black Hole, Tron, Dick Tracy and Stephen King’s The Stand. His main cover work was at Ballantine Books where he did such work as the 1982 cover of Herbert’s Under Pressure (superb novel), the 2006 Anderson’s Time Patrol and the 1983 Berkley Books publication of E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith Triplanetary.
Born June 29, 1968 — Judith Hoag, 53. Her first genre role was in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as April O’Neil followed by being in Armageddon playing Denise Chappel and then a Doctor in A Nightmare On Elm Street. She filmed a cameo for another Turtle film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, but it was deleted. She’s got one one-offs in Quantum Leap, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Strange World, The Burning Zone, X-Files, Carnivàle and Grimm. Her latest genre role was in The Magicians as Stephanie Quinn.
It is a good time to be a superheroic animal. DC’s League of Super-Pets animated movie is on the way and has somehow nabbed Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the voice of Krypto the Superdog, along with Kevin Hart as Ace the Bat-Hound, plus Keanu Reeves, Kate McKinnon, Diego Luna, and more. But these critters—and maybe others—have long had superhero careers in the pages of DC Comics. It’s time to look at every member of the Legion of Super-Pets— and see how they compare….
(13) SALE OF THE MID-CENTURY. See a bit of sf history in a photo here on Facebook – at the 1968 Worldcon in Oakland/Berkeley, Harlan Ellison auctions off the services of David Gerrold (standing).
It’s time for a showdown of galactic proportions… In which universe does your loyalty lie, are you Team Spock or is Darth your daddy? Foxglove and Gee Quiz are proud to strike back in 2021 bringing you a quiz from galaxies far away, a showdown between Star Wars and Star Trek superfans.
Whet your whistle in Mos Eisely Cantina while the food replicator whips you up dishes from culinary worlds like Endor, Naboo, Vulcan and Remus. Have you ever tried Petrokian Sausage? All teams answer questions from both universes, including specialty bonus food and beverage rounds to test your knowledge of culinary delights that are out of this world. Every ticket includes 2 drinks, canape and shared table banquet dishes from all corners of the universe!
Book your six person team ($450) or book a single ticket ($75) and declare your loyalty and we’ll match you up with like-minded quizzers.
ORIGINAL: How big? When complete the starship will measure 42-inches long and 18-inches wide. Features will include electronic lights and sounds that can be controlled via an app, and you can open up the saucer section of the Enterprise to see a full 1966-style bridge. The body of the ship will also open to display the engineering room.
A large collaboration of astrophysicists report they have made the first-ever confirmed detections of shockwaves produced by mergers between neutron stars and black holes. The detections, 10 days apart, represent two of these enormous cosmic unions.
In January 2020, Earth quivered ever so slightly as shockwaves imperceptible to human senses passed through it. Those ripples were gravitational waves, perturbations in spacetime generated by all massive objects but only detectable from extremely huge events, like two black holes colliding. The waves were strong enough to be picked up by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory in Louisiana (the Washington branch of the instrument was offline at the time) and the similar Virgo experiment in Pisa, Italy. These experiments detect gravitational waves using a sensitive arrangement of mirrors and laser beams.
Black holes are points in space with such intense gravitational fields that not even light can escape. They form when a star dies and collapses in on itself. Neutron stars form similarly; they are the extremely dense collapsed remains of dead stars and are mostly composed of packed-in neutrons.
… Venus doesn’t have plate tectonics. But according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it may possess a quirky variation of that process: Parts of its surface seem to be made up of blocks that have shifted and twisted about, contorting their surroundings as they went.
These boogying blocks, thin and flat slices of rock referred to as campi (Latin for “fields”), can be as small as Ireland or as expansive as Alaska. They were found using data from NASA’s Magellan orbiter mission, the agency’s last foray to Venus. In the early 1990s, it used radar to peer through the planet’s obfuscating atmosphere and map the entire surface. Taking another look at these maps, scientists found 58 campi scattered throughout the planet’s lava-covered lowlands….
(18) SHOW BIZ WANTS YOU. Universal Studios Hollywood put out a call for contestants to be on “the first ever Harry Potter quiz show.” The application is here.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Ratchet and Crank: Rift Apart,” Fandom Games says the latest line extension of the Ratchet and Crank franchise is so familiar that “if it seems like a new coat of paint on an old favorite, that’s what it is” and shows the rule of the gaming industry, that, “If it ain’t broke, just slap newer-looking graphics on it and charge full price.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, James Davis Nicoll, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
Pasadena’s Lineage Performing Arts Center shares its take on Ray Bradbury’s “All Summer in a Day” in a free online presentation Friday, May 28, starting at 7 p.m.
This community-created dance and theatre piece reimagines Bradbury’s sci-fi short story through the lens of Pasadena’s experience through the pandemic. “All Summer in a Day” director, Lineage’s founder Hilary Thomas, conducted virtual workshops and classes over the last year, where she collected writings from PUSD students, Pasadena community members, and contributors from across the country, on their experience during the pandemic.
The show weaves together live actors performing the community’s text, accompanied by dancers from the Lineage Dance Company.
In a parallel to the trying times of the past year, “All Summer in a Day” tells the story of Margot, a young girl living on Venus, where it’s been raining for seven years straight. Margot alone holds out hope for a break in the clouds. Lineage’s community members have reimagined the story’s ending, drawing on the hope they feel as Pasadena slowly begins to heal from the pandemic.
(2) BUILDING BEYOND. K. O’Keefe Thomas and Rem Wigmore join Sarah Gailey’s “Building Beyond: Invasive Economics” to play with the writing prompt: “The ecosystem that is the global economy has fallen victim to an incredibly invasive species.” Gailey sums up their three attempts —
All of these possibilities are just beginnings. Rem’s weasels are the start of an incredibly creative and fun linguistic romp. K’s lichenous growth is the entry point for a story about how people might be compelled to build a utopia. My parasitoid wasps are the beginning of a tale of forgetting; if the wasps begin to mutate, what else might they devour?
In the 1940s, the British Interplanetary Society—a fantastic club of space geeks that included Arthur C. Clarke—drafted up detailed plans for space missions of all kinds, including a trip to the moon. After World War II ended, BIS member Harry Ross pushed ahead on a lunar spacesuit design and drafted artist Ralph Smith to create fantastic illustrations of concept. Sixty years later, the UK’s National Space Centre museum commissioned historical costume and model maker Stephen Wisdom to bring the spacesuit into the real world… using only materials that were available in the 1940s….
…Every writer should have at hand a bio, short for biography. This biography can take many forms depending on where you are in your journey. Most often requested in the third person, it includes your name, perhaps where you’re from or where you currently live, perhaps your degrees, your awards, and your publications. I strongly suggest that you write a long one, maybe two pages, and then a one-page one, and then 100 word and a 50-word one. The publication will specify the kind they want and the length of bio they want. More and more request them upon submitting. I’ve been asked for 50-word bios, 100-word bios, and, more rarely, 150-word bios. You must think of this well before the time of request or submittal, and have it at the ready because the moment that it is required is rarely a moment that you want to think of the cleverest and most authentic way to present yourself. I recommend that you review this annually and that you update it. Read it aloud, get a friend to vet it….
(5) TRUE WRIT. [Item by Lise Andreasen.] Hejsa! Podcast time! Episode 88 of the Literature and History podcast is about “Ancient Greek Sci-fi”. In roughly the 160s CE, the Greek satirist Lucian of Samosata wrote A True History, one of history’s earliest surviving novels, with strong tinges of what we’d call science fiction.
…The novel that we’re about to read in this episode is a wild and entertaining chunk of prose, and an exuberant mockery of what Lucian holds to be poor history writing. And so before we open Lucian’s novel, we should get a couple of things related to works of ancient history fresh in our minds. Because while the novel we’re about to read together is a zany and fun adventure story, it also has a serious agenda. At the heart of this agenda is criticizing history as it existed in the second century. History, in the mid-100s CE, when Lucian was hunched over his desk, writing his works, was not like modern, academically peer-reviewed history. The historians who come up in Lucian’s works – ancient Greek figures like Thucydides and Xenophon and especially Herodotus – these writers, to varying extents, took artistic license when they wrote their books, leavening the facts available to them with fiction to alternately fill in gaps and to make things more engrossing and exciting for their readers. To put it simply, Lucian’s problem with history as a discipline was that it erred too far on the side of exaggerations and outright fabrications….
The direct link to the audio is here. I am a faithful subscriber to the podcast, and I highly recommend it.
…It has thus been only for two or three decades that South Korea has had a thriving science fiction and fantasy cultural scene, which first began to develop on the internet. Without a full appreciation of this history, critics inside and outside South Korea often wonder at the little exposure that the country has had to Western science fiction culture.
All this meant that, during my formative years, the inspiration for my writing came from mainstream literature on the one hand and from the fantastic and speculative world of manhwa on the other. I like to think that I learned from Herman Hesse how to express a literary vision and from manhwa artist Kim Jin how to appropriate Korean history and myths for my own storytelling. Plus, I have always been a big fan of Agatha Christie’s detective fiction.
With the exception of Hesse, the below list includes my favorite works of science fiction…
(7) TRAILING LIVES. Infinite with Mark Wahlberg will be streaming June 10 on Paramount+.
For Evan McCauley (Mark Wahlberg), skills he has never learned and memories of places he has never visited haunt his daily life. Self-medicated and on the brink of a mental breakdown, Evan is sought by a secret group that call themselves “Infinites,” revealing to him that his memories may be real—but they are from multiple past lives.
(8) MEMORY LANE.
2001 — Twenty years ago at the Millennium Philcon, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire wins the Hugo for Best Novel. Other nominated works were A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin, Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer, The Sky Road by Ken MacLeod and Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 28, 1847 – Bithia Croker. Irish horsewoman who hunted with the Kildare; married, moved to British India, wrote for a distraction during the hot season. Forty-two novels (17 set in India, 1 Burma, 7 Ireland); we can claim Beyond the Pale and her seven collections of shorter stories. (Died 1920) [JH]
Born May 28, 1908 — Ian Fleming. Author of the James Bond series which is at least genre adjacent if not actually genre in some cases such as Moonraker. The film series was much more genre than the source material. Then there’s the delightful Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car. The film version was produced by Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli, who had already made five James Bond films. (Died 1964.) (CE)
Born May 28, 1919 – Don Day. Editor of The Fanscient (and of its parody, Fan-Scent; you can see both here). Perhaps the greatest early bibliographer of SF, in The Fanscient and also his Index to the Science Fiction Magazines 1926-1950 (hardbound, sold thousands of copies). Chaired NorWesCon the 8th Worldcon. (Died 1979) [JH]
Born May 28, 1930 – Frank Drake, age 91. Astronomer and astrophysicist. Nat’l Academy of Sciences, American Acad. of Arts & Sciences. Co-designed the Pioneer Plaques; supervised the Voyager Golden Records; thus our neighbor. Lapidarist. Raises orchids. [JH]
Born May 28, 1951 — Sherwood Smith, 70. YA writer best known for her Wren series. She’s also co-authored The Change Series with Rachel Manija Brown. She also co-authored two novels with Andre Norton, Derelict for Trade and A Mind for Trade. (CE)
Born May 28, 1954 – Kees van Toorn, age 67. Chaired ConFiction the 48th Worldcon, at the Hague. Served on con committees in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the U.K., the U.S. Perry Rhodan translator. Semiprozine Orbit for a dozen years. Contributed to APA-L from overseas. Two European SF Awards. Guest of Honor at Beneluxcon 7 & 17. Here is a Website about his Worldcon and now-canceled reunion plans. [JH]
Born May 28, 1954 – Betsy Mitchell, age 67. Long fruitful career at Baen, Bantam, Warner, Del Rey, editing 150 titles, several becoming NY Times Best Sellers; now, Betsy Mitchell Editorial Services. Guest of Honor at Archon 14, 4th Street Fantasy Con (1992), Armadillocon 22, Boskone 41, Ad Astra 25, Loscon 40. [JH]
Born May 28, 1977 — Ursula Vernon, 44. She is best known for her Hugo Award-winning graphic novel Digger which was a webcomic from 2003 to 2011. Vernon is also the creator of The Biting Pear of Salamanca, a digital work of art which became an internet meme in the form of the LOL WUT pear.
Born May 28, 1984 — Max Gladstone, 37. His debut novel, Three Parts Dead, is part of the Craft Sequence series, and his shared Bookburners serial is most excellent. This Is How You Lose the Time War (co-written with Amal El-Mohtar) won a Hugo Award for Best Novella at CoNZealand. (CE)
Born May 28, 1985 — Carey Mulligan, 36. She’s here because she shows up in a very scary Tenth Doctor story, “Blink”, in which she plays Sally Sparrow. Genre adjacent, she was in Agatha Christie’s Marple: The Sittaford Mystery as Violet Willett. (Christie gets a shout-out in another Tenth Doctor story, “The Unicorn and the Wasp”.) (CE)
Born May 28, 1986 – Laura Dockrill, age 35. Author, illustrator, poet (performance name “Dockers MC”). Two novels, a short story, a collection of retold fairy (I confess mistyping it “fiery”) tales for us; a dozen other books. When The Guardian asked her about the dress she was photographed in, she said “I call it Fantastic Disgusting Amazing Dress because it is fantastic, disgusting and amazing.” [JH]
Now, thanks to SMUJones Video Collection (via Boing Boing), one of the earliest Stan Lee on-camera appearances has resurfaced. And it’s amazing how different 1966 Stan Lee looked from how we all think of him today. Also amazing is how prescient he was about Marvel’s potential in other media. You can watch the two-part video in full right here…
From 1984 to roughly 1987, the Super Powers Collection was a DC Comics line of action figures from Kenner Toys, home of Star Wars. It featured the DC heroes in their most iconic incarnations, with classic villains getting cool new modern upgrades. Aside from the figures, there was also a metric ton of merchandise. And the long-running Super Friends cartoon also got a Super Powers makeover. While the stories for Super Powers were simplistic by modern standards, their colorful aesthetic and emphasis on fun adventure and pure heroism feel exactly like what the DCEU needs today. But before we get into how Super Powers can inspire the future, let’s take a deep dive into its history….
…While I have never been to an underwater base, what little I do know about oceans and pressure suggests that several things in the movie don’t add up scientifically. Deep sea diving with minimal gear and body protection seems needlessly dangerous. Similarly, open holes to the water that serve as entrances into both the lab and the unidentified object don’t make sense. There’s an open water propelled human exploration ship that at one point is slower than a diver just swimming alongside it, which led me to question: why have the ship in the first place? And there are moments of beautiful cinematography in the water with the fish and the ocean floor, which made me wish that they had been featured more prominently….
Cosmic dreams (and provocative nightmares) of tantalizing journeys through time and space … infinite, conceptual exploration of the stars … alien creatures … Hammer Films … Universal Pictures … “King Kong” … Ray Harryhausen … Ray Bradbury … George Pal … Robert Bloch … Peter Cushing … Veronica Carlson … Buster Crabbe … John Agar … Frank Capra … John Williams … Miklos Rozsa … Forrest J Ackerman … and Famous “Monsters” of all shapes, sizes, and creeds, both conceived and lovingly chronicled in books, magazines, journals, tabloids, and on line for over half a century, inspired this affectionate, deeply personal, if slightly Monstrous, remembrance of a life in “horror” by a gray haired, unabashedly child like, Monster “Kid.”
Though cryptocurrency mining is becoming less profitable by the day, those who still have the hardware may as well use it. However, it sucks up a lot of energy and dumps a lot of heat, which suspiciously looks like a marijuana grow house, as it turns out.
Earlier this month, police in London were tipped off to a building within the Great Bridge Industrial Estate, Sandwell. Using drone surveillance, police saw a characteristic heat signature and people regularly going in and out. Therefore, when the police raided the location on May 18th, they were expecting a cannabis farm, but that is not what they found.
Upon entry, they saw shelves full of up to 100 application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) cryptocurrency miners rigged with exhaust pipes and a daisy-chained power system. As it turns out, the only illegal part about this is that the computers were spliced into the power network, which had “effectively stolen thousands of pounds of electricity,” as the BBC reports….
…Only the fully vaccinated should be witnessing this. That’s certainly not the case. After waiting the suggested two weeks from my second Moderna shot in late March (a sluggish day that felt like a system reboot), I rejoined the company of filmgoers. It felt vaguely like getting away with something you knew you shouldn’t be doing.
No apologies. The excitement of being back, however tinged by free-floating nervousness, can’t be downplayed. I drank in Andrei Tarkovsky’s elliptical 1975 art film “Mirror” like so many vodka flights, every mysterious windswept field and liquid interlude frizzing my synapses. Amazingly, my tiny Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center audience greeted the end credits with a robust chorus of woos (possibly a first for Tarkovsky). Maybe we were cheering the mere idea of surviving a film together. A theater worker dismissed us row by row; we obeyed like good little schoolchildren.
There’s something performative about returning to the movies right now. The laughing is louder. Perhaps it’s compensation for all the taped-off rows, all the dead space. We’ve become the film ourselves, telegraphing our emotions in ways that only 14 months of mouth-obscured masking can spur. Case in point: Orson Welles’s chatty 1973 documentary “F for Fake” is amusing in a purring, intellectual way, but it’s not the riot that a few superfans at the Paris Theater in Midtown were clearly having.
It helps to bring your own enthusiasm. Otherwise, a mind can wander to the whooshing air-conditioning units, freshly refitted with the required MERV 13 filters and somehow louder than memory serves. Is the ceiling too low? Was that a cough or a chuckle? Don’t let yourself get too distracted, or you’ll be demoted from paying customer to cop.
Remember in Season 2 of The Boys, when Homelander (Antony Starr) took his son, Ryan (Cameron Crovetti), to the supe-themed restaurant Planet Vought? The pair were still getting adjusted to their father-son dynamic, so at Stormfront’s (Aya Cash) prompting, Homelander takes his son out to the restaurant for some bonding. Of course, Homelander fans ended up making it more traumatic than intended for the poor kid, but weirdly enough, if you are in the Los Angeles area June 4 – 6, you could be one of those fans.
Amazon Studios announced today that they’re unveiling a huge, free The Boys-themed three-day pop-up at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles. It’s being billed as a “one-of-a-kind, immersive drive-thru restaurant” celebrating Planet Vought’s (think of it as a super knock-off of Planet Hollywood restaurants) “grand opening” event. Each car-load will get an exclusive 40-minute experience with themed food and a drive-thru environment filled with characters, visuals, and elements from The Boys universe.
“We here at The Boys are thrilled to launch our latest cash-grab, I mean, brand extension: Planet Vought Hollywood,” showrunner Eric Kripke says in a tonally spot-on press release statement. “Guests will experience the thrills of being a real superhero, all while consuming 2000 calories or more. Okay not really, but still, this experience is SO COOL, and will immerse viewers (and frankly, Emmy voters) into the humor and intrigue of the show’s world. And keep an eye out — Butcher and the Boys might swing by.”
[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Cath, Will R., Daniel Dern, Lise Andreasen, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
“I really thought there was going to be a backlash from me replacing Chris. I didn’t think I was going to be trending for being a badass,” comedian says
After comedian Chris D’Elia was accused of sexual misconduct, Zack Snyder made the decision to digitally replace his role in “Army of the Dead” with an unusual choice: Tig Notaro.
Notaro had never done major stunt work before (she’s done some light action scenes on “Star Trek: Discovery”). But she found herself pretending she was piloting a helicopter while evading a zombie as well as learning how to handle a prop machine gun in Snyder’s film. And because she was digitally replacing another actor who shot his footage months earlier, she had to act largely on her own in front of green screens and without any other actors.
Both Notaro and Snyder in an interview with Vulture detailed the elaborate work it took to sub Notaro into “Army of the Dead.” And it was a choice that paid off, because Tig found herself trending on Twitter after images of her chomping on a cigarillo and decked out in military garb went viral.
(4) KONG IN THE BEGINNING. Here’s the first trailer for a brand new, feature length documentary film concerning the life, death, and Legend of King Kong. Premieres in November. Our own Steve Vertlieb is one of the interviewees!
(5) OMEGA SCI-FI AWARDS. The Roswell Award & Women Hold Up Half the Sky Virtual Celebrity Readings & Awards on May 22 at 11:00 a.m. Pacific will feature sci-fi and fantasy actors David Blue, Ruth Connell, LaMonica Garrett, Phil Lamarr, Tiffany Lonsdale-Hands, Nana Visitor, and Kari Wahlgren.
Pre-registration is required! Event registration and replay access is FREE. Register for the Zoom webinar here.
At 12:00pm Central European Time on Wednesday, May 12th, 2021, the Global Raptor Alliance (formerly the Hawk And Falcon Cooperative) will announce the opening of the Avian Museum of Human History. This museum will feature a bird’s-eye view (literally) of human civilization.
Mar Stratford is a writer from the Mid-Atlantic and friend to all animals. Find zir online at mar-stratford.com or on Twitter.
Gailey: What are a couple of highlights of the avian narrative of human civilization? What kind of artifacts will be featured in the museum?…
(7) MAKE A WISH. Netflix dropped a trailer for Wish Dragon, an animated comedy coming on June 11.
Determined teen Din is longing to reconnect with his childhood best friend when he meets a wish-granting dragon that leads him on an adventure a thousand years in the making.
(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
May 12, 1989 — On this day in 1989, The Return Of Swamp Thing premiered. The follow-up to Swamp Thing, it was directed by Jim Wynorski, with production by Benjamin Melniker and Michael E. Uslan. The story was written by Neil Cuthbert and Grant Morris. It starred Dick Durock and Heather Locklear who replaced Adrienne Barbeau as the female lead who was in Swamp Thing. Louis Jourdan also returns as a spot-on Anton Arcane. The audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a middling fifty five percent rating thought the original Swamp Thing series which also stars Durock in contrast has an eighty three percent rating among audience reviewers there!
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born May 12, 1812 – Edward Lear. Famous in his day as a painter and illustrator. First major bird artist to draw from live birds; look at this parrot. Here are some Albanians. Here’s Masada. His musical settings for Tennyson’s poems were the only ones Tennyson approved of. Known today as a writer of nonsense. We may never see an owl dancing with a pussycat, but they do in his creation – in a hundred languages. (Died 1888) [JH]
Born May 12, 1828 – Dante Gabriel Rossetti. He was Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti, but put his third name first in honor of The Divine Comedy. Founded the Pre-Raphaelite school of art because he thought Raphael (1483-1520) had ruined things; see how this led DGR to imagine Proserpine. His poetry too was fantastic. He is credited with the wordyesteryear. He loved wombats. (Died 1882) [JH]
Born May 12, 1902 – Philip Wylie. A dozen novels, as many shorter stories for us; hundreds of works all told. Gladiator was an inspiration for Superman. When Worlds Collide (with Edwin Balmer) inspired Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon. Columnist, editor, screenwriter, adviser to the chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee for Atomic Energy, vice-president of the Int’l Game Fish Ass’n. Wrote “Anyone Can Raise Orchids” for The Saturday Evening Post. In The Disappearance a cosmic blink forces all men to get along without women, all women without men. (Died 1971) [JH]
Born May 12, 1907 — Leslie Charteris. I really hadn’t thought of the Simon Templar aka The Saint series as being genre but both ISFDB and ESF list the series with the latter noting that “Several short stories featuring Templar are sf or fantasy, typically dealing with odd Inventions or Monsters (including the Loch Ness Monster and Caribbean Zombies.” (Died 1993.) (CE)
Born May 12, 1928 — Robert “Buck” Coulson. Writer, well-known fan, filk songwriter and fanzine editor. He and his wife, writer and fellow filker Juanita Coulson, edited the fanzine Yandro which they produced on a mimeograph machine, and which was nominated for the Hugo Award ten years running right through 1968, and won in 1965. Yandro was particularly strong on reviewing other fanzines. Characters modeled on and named after him appear in two novels by Wilson Tucker, Resurrection Days and To the Tombaugh Station. (Died 1999.) (CE)
Born May 12, 1937 – Betsy Lewin, age 84. Illustrated twoscore books, some ours. Here is Click, Clack, Moo (Caldecott Honor). Here is Penny. Here is No Such Thing. Here is a note on BL and her husband Ted. [JH]
Born May 12, 1938 — David Pelham, 83. Artist and Art Director at Penguin Books from 1968 to 1979 who was responsible for some of the most recognizable cover art in genre books to date. He did the cog-eyed droog for Anthony Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange in 1972. There’s a great interview with him here. (CE)
Born May 12, 1942 — Barry Longyear, 79. Best known for the Hugo- and Nebula Award–winning novella Enemy Mine, which became a film by that name as well. Gerrold would later novelize it. An expanded version of the original novella as well as two novels completing the trilogy, The Tomorrow Testament and The Last Enemy make up The Enemy Papers. I’m very fond of his Circus World series, less so of his Infinity Hold series. (CE)
Born May 12, 1950 — Bruce Boxleitner, 71. His greatest genre role was obviously Captain John Sheridan on Babylon 5. (Yes, I loved the show.) Other genre appearances being Alan T. Bradley in Tron, Tron: Legacy, and voicing that character in the Tron: Uprising series. He has a recurring role on Supergirl as President Baker. (CE)
Born May 12, 1958 – Patricia Finney, age 63. Five novels for us, of which three are told by a dog in Doglish; her first was published before she was 18. A dozen others (some under different names); a radio play. Higham Award. “When I was seven I had to write a story about anything for school. Naturally I wrote about spacemen exploring other galaxies and outwitting jelly aliens…. I got A minus for it (untidy writing, I’m afraid).” Avocations karate, embroidery, folk music. Website. [JH]
Born May 12, 1966 – Gilles Francescano, age 55. A hundred twenty covers, some for work available in English. Here is L’ère du spathiopithèque. Here is Roll Over, Amundsen!Here is Galaxies 3. Here is The Night Orchid. Here is The Master of Light. [JH]
Born May 12, 1968 — Catherine Tate, 53. Donna Noble, Companion to the Eleventh Doctor. She has extended the role by doing the Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Adventures on Big Finish. She also played Inquisitor Greyfax in Our Martyred Lady, a Warhammer 40,000 audio drama, something I did not know existed until now. (CE)
Earlier this year, the Breton artist was sued for infringement by Moulinsart, which manages the Tintin business. Moulinsart’s lawyer argued that “taking advantage of the reputation of a character to immerse him in an erotic universe has nothing to do with humour”. Marabout’s lawyer argued that the paintings were parody.
The Rennes court also said that Moulinsart had “denigrated” Marabout by contacting galleries showing his work to say that it was infringing, Huffington Post France reported, adding €10,000 (£8,500) in damages for Marabout and €20,000 in legal fees to its ruling.
(11) IN JOY STILL FELT.[Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Isaac Asimov, in his autobiography In Joy Still Felt, discusses the 1971 Hugo Awards at Noreascon I.
The Hugo awards banquet on September 5 (my mother’s seventy-sixth birthday) was the high point of the convention. I sat on the dais, for I was going to hand out the Hugos, and Bob Silverberg was the toastmaster (and an excellent one–no one is better than he at sardonic humor).
Robyn (Asimov’s daughter), radiantly beautiful, was at my side, knitting calmly. Good old Cliff Simak, now sixty-seven, was guest of honor and, in the course of his talk, he introduced his children, who were in the audience, Robyn whispered to me, ‘You’re not going to introduce me, are you, Dad?’
I whispered back, ‘Not if you don’t want me to, Robyn.’
‘I don’t.’ She knitted a while, then said, ‘Of course, if you want to refer casually to your beautiful, blue-eyed, blond-haired daughter, you may do that.‘ So I did.
Bob Silverberg made frequent reference to the argument that had been made at St. Louis in 1968 [sic; actually 1969], when Harlan Ellison had taken up a collection to pay for some damage inadvertently done to hotel property, and, on collecting more than the required sum, had calmly assigned the excess to his own pet project, a science-fiction class at Clarion College.
Bob therefore made frequent mock announcements of various objects that would be ‘donated to Clarion’ and got a laugh each time.
When it came time to stand up and give out the awards, I couldn’t resist invading Bob’s turf by singing a limerick I had hastily constructed while listening to the toastmastering. It read:
There was a young woman named Marion Who did hump and did grind and carry on The result of her joy Was a fine bastard boy Which she promptly donated to Clarion.
The audience saw where it was going halfway through the last line and the roar of laughter drowned out the final three words.
In the course of the banquet Lester (del Rey) presented a moving encomium on John Campbell. He is excellent at that sort of thing and constantly threatens to deliver one on me if it becomes necessary; and that does give me a marvelous incentive to outlive him if I can.”
…”It’s very faint and monotone, because it is in a narrow frequency bandwidth,” Stella Koch Ocker, a Cornell University doctoral student in astronomy, said in a statement. “We’re detecting the faint, persistent hum of interstellar gas.”
NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft flew by Jupiter in 1979, and by Saturn in 1980, before crossing the heliopause in August 2012.
When Virgin Galactic first announced its suborbital spaceflight plans in 2004, working in cooperation with Scaled Composites just as that company’s SpaceShipOne was on the cusp of winning the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE, it said it would begin commercial service as soon as late 2007. It’s 2021, and the company has yet to take a paying customer to the edge of space. SpaceShipTwo hasn’t made a trip to suborbital space since February 2019, and a flight in December 2020 was aborted just as its hybrid engine ignited because of a computer malfunction that’s taken months to correct.
Virgin Galactic’s delays and setbacks have been well-chronicled here and elsewhere, but not to the same level of detail as in Nicholas Schmidle’s new book, Test Gods. Schmidle was embedded for several years in Virgin Galactic, starting not long after the October 2014 accident that destroyed the first SpaceShipTwo and killed its co-pilot, Mike Alsbury. He was such a frequent visitor to the company’s Mojave facilities, sitting in on meetings and interviewing people, that one new hire thought he was a fellow employee.
Schmidle tells the story of Virgin Galactic largely through one of its pilots, Mark Stucky, with whom he spent much of his time while at the company….
(14) VERSUS LONELINESS. SOLOS premieres May 21 in the US and select territories and June 25 worldwide on Amazon Prime Video. Io9 warms up the audience in “Amazon Sci-Fi Anthology Solos”
“We all feel alone in different ways,” says Morgan Freeman in this new trailer for Solos. “In feeling alone, we are somehow all together.” That seems as perfect a thesis statement for Amazon Prime’s upcoming TV series as possible.
The show, from Hunters creator David Well, is not the stealth sequel to Solo, but it does give us two Anthony Mackies having a heart to heart, as well as Dame Helen Mirren on a lonely space voyage, Legion’s Dan Stevens hugging Freeman, and a lot more. See for yourself:
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Nier Replicant” on YouTube, Fandom Games says that this Americanized version is :a master class in feeling sadness and is a game for people who “love to cry about robots” and give up fighting for long sessions of video garning and “searching for household fruits.”
[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Steve Vertlieb, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day James Reynolds with an assist from Anna Nimmahus.]
By Steve Vertlieb: I interviewed William Shatner for British magazine L’Incroyable Cinema in the Summer of 1969 at The Playhouse In The Park whilst Star Trek was still in the final days of its original network run on NBC.
My old friend Allan Asherman, who joined my brother Erwin and I for this once-in-a-lifetime meeting with Captain James Tiberius Kirk, astutely commented that I had now met all three of our legendary boyhood “Captains,” which included Jim Kirk (William Shatner), Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers (Larry “Buster” Crabbe), and Buzz Corry (Edward Kemmer), Commander of The “Space Patrol.” It’s marvelous how an ordinary life can include real life friendships with childhood heroes.
William Shatner turns 90 years young on March 22nd. Wishing the most beloved star ship captain in the universe a joyous Happy 90th Birthday of interplanetary proportions.
By Steve Vertlieb: I grew up with television in the 1950s. The little box sitting in my living room, brightly lit from within, became a lifelong companion. During those most impressionable years, I came to recognize a variety of character actors and actresses who, in my private adolescent world, became trusted friends. Their faces were comforting affirmations of my youthful belief in the ultimate goodness of mankind. Among the most reassuring of these, both then and now, belonged to Jack Klugman. While he later established a delightful persona as Oscar Madison (opposite Tony Randall) in television’s adaptation of The Odd Couple, I will always regard Jack Klugman as one of the most vulnerable, deeply honest, and passionate actors in television history. He was “everyman” … a poor, simple “Joe,” trying to lift himself out of the gutter and become a “Mentsch.”
Klugman, along with Burgess Meredith, was particularly cherished by Rod Serling, who utilized their talents in four separate episodes each of his classic Twilight Zone series on CBS. Two of those episodes in particular affected me deeply during my formative years. In “A Passage For Trumpet,” Klugman played Joey Crown, a sad, lonely man with an affinity for his horn. In a world filled with strangers, his trumpet seemed his only friend … an instrument of beauty that alone elevated his soul. In a later episode of the classic series, Klugman was an inconsequential gambler (Max Phillips) whose sole meaning and value in life seemed the future of his only son, wounded in Vietnam. He sacrifices his own shabby life in order to save his boy … a selfless act “In Praise of Pip.”
In 1957, Jack Klugman co-starred with, perhaps, the most startling ensemble of young actors ever assembled in a single motion picture. Alongside Henry Fonda, Lee J Cobb, Martin Balsam, Edward Binns, Jack Warden, Ed Begley, Robert Webber, and George Voskovic as “Juror No. 5” in Sidney Lumet’s landmark courtroom drama, Twelve Angry Men, Klugman delivered an impassioned performance as a loner struggling to voice his humanity in a sea of cynicism. He was always the common man, the quiet, dignified soul yearning to find expression in a world that often had no time for him.
His powerful guest starring role in the CBS dramatic series The Defenders in 1964 (“The Blacklist”) won him a well deserved Emmy Award. Klugman could always be counted on to deliver a strong, moralistic performance as he did opposite Jack Lemmon, as Jim Hungerford, in Blake Edwards’ tragic study of alcoholism, The Days of Wine and Roses (1962). He created the role of Ethel Merman’s friend and companion in the original production of Gypsy on Broadway (later re-created by Karl Malden in the motion picture version opposite Rosalind Russell). He delivered comforting support to Frank Sinatra in a strong performance as a loyal police officer in The Detective.
I was running the film department at WTAF TV 29 in Philadelphia during the late Seventies and early Eighties, and had become friendly with Dan Silverman, the head of publicity at Universal, who would take my brother and I on private walking tours of the studio’s back lot. On one such occasion, we visited the set of the popular Quincy series during filming and had a lovely meeting with the superb Jack Klugman whose heart melted upon learning that we had come from his favorite city, Philadelphia. I’d always wanted to meet him, and so this opportunity was quite literally a dream come true.
I’d been warned that the actor could be somewhat temperamental, and so I made sure that he knew right from the start that I had journeyed to Hollywood from The City of Brotherly Love. He was very warm, and threw his arms around me immediately.
After chatting for a few moments, Jack asked if my brother Erwin and I might like to return to the set after lunch to watch them film an episode of the weekly NBC series. “Would you boys like to come back after lunch, and watch us shoot,” he asked. I watched him walk over to his director. Pointing to us, he said “These gentlemen are going to come back after lunch and watch us “shoot.” “They’re from Philadelphia … Ya know … PHILADELPHIA!” He was very cute.
Jack Klugman remains one of my favorite actors, both on the small and large screens. His charm and self effacing humor when I met him on the set of Quincy is a memory that I’ll cherish always … as I will his profound body of work both in film and television.
By Steve Vertlieb: In the early days of television, my boyhood was enchanted by the weekly adventures of Commander Buzz Corry and Cadet Happy aboard the spaceship “Terra V” of the inter galactic Space Patrol. The series, written by Norman Jolley and Mike Moser, and directed by Dick Darley, aired Live every Saturday morning from 1950 until 1955 over ABC Television and radio. Each episode would air first as a radio broadcast at 10 o’clock in the morning (EST) over ABC Radio, followed at 10:30 (EST) on ABC Television. The series was among the earliest and most professional of tv’s original space operas, featuring imaginative scripts and top flight production. The program would continue to air for decades in syndication as Satellite Police.
Starring Edward Kemmer as Commander Buzz Corry, the show featured an ensemble cast that included Lyn Osborn as Cadet Happy, Ken Mayer as Major “Robbie” Robertson, Virginia Hewitt as Carol Carlisle, and Nina Bara as “Tonga.” The show assembled a colorful recurring cast of villains that included Bela Kovacs as the nefarious Prince Baccarratti, and Marvin Miller as Mr. Proteus.
Marvin Miller would go on to star in his own popular CBS Television series, The Millionaire (as Michael Anthony, Executive Secretary to the fabulously wealthy John Beresford Tipton, voiced off camera by Paul Frees), as well as enacting the voice of Robby The Robot in MGM’S Science Fiction extravaganza, Forbidden Planet. Indeed, Space Patrol may well have inspired the filming of the MGM classic in 1956, as well as NBC’s Star Trek series in 1966. William Shatner’s Captain James T. Kirk was, in many ways, a haunting reinterpretation of Kemmer’s Buzz Corry.
Ed Kemmer had been a heroic World War Two flyer whose P-51 fighter plane was shot down over France in 1944. He spent the next eleven months interred in a German P.O.W. camp, having escaped but later recaptured. It was the very same prisoner of war camp that inspired the popular Steve McQueen drama, The Great Escape. During his imprisonment, Ed would often stage plays for his fellow prisoners and, when the war ended, he embarked on an acting career.
Ed appeared from 1964 until 1983 as a featured player on such prominent soap operas as The Edge of Night, and All My Children. He also co-starred with Dorothy Malone in Too Much Too Soon, the story of actress Diana Barrymore. However, it was his affiliation with sci-fi that he is best remembered for. He co-starred with William Shatner (as the flight engineer) in Richard Matheson’s classic Twilight Zone episode, “Nightmare At Twenty Thousand Feet” in 1963 as well as playing the lead in Earth Vs. The Spider in 1958.
Here I am some years ago meeting my boyhood hero at last. Ed Kemmer was a delightful gentleman, actor, and war hero who, wonderfully, became a personal pal during the last years of his life. When I first met Ed, I gushingly told him that I’d loved him for fifty years. He said “You couldn’t possibly be that old.” I assured him, however, that I was. I corresponded with Ed during the last years of his life, and often sent him tape recordings of Frank Sinatra, whom he adored. Dick Darley, who had directed the entire run of Space Patrol, had later directed the Rosemary Clooney television program, and Ed would often visit the set, discussing Sinatra with Clooney.
Meeting Ed was, quite literally, a dream come true for me. Along with William Boyd as Hop-A-Long Cassidy, and Larry “Buster” Crabbe as Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers, Ed was one of my earliest, most cherished and remembered heroes. Ed suffered a stroke, and passed away on November 9, 2004. He was eighty-four years old.
The decades have separated us, but my memories remain as vital and clear as they were in 1950 when, in my innocence, I first heard announcer Jack Narz proclaim “High adventures in the wild reaches of space … Missions of daring in the name of interplanetary justice. Travel into the future with Buzz Corry, Commander in Chief of the … Space Patrol.”
By Steven Vertlieb: As ever, I am proud to be a voting member of The International Film Music Critics Association. Here are this year’s most worthy winners. I am particularly proud to announce that Tadlow’s stunning new recording of Samuel Bronston’s epic “King of Kings,” composed by Miklos Rozsa, produced by James Fitzpatrick, and conducted by Nic Raine, as well as the most remarkable visualization ever produced of a live John Williams concert, Deutche Grammophon’s “John Williams In Vienna”, have each won in their respective categories.
Also, winning recognition as Best Original Score For A Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror Film was the Wonder Woman 1984 music by Hans Zimmer.
Sincere congratulations to all of this year well deserved winners.