Frank M. Robinson, best-selling fiction author, editor, collector and sf historian died June 30 reports SF Site News. He was 87. His health was known to be in decline, as he had been unable to participate in person as Special Guest at last month’s SFWA Nebula Weekend.
Among his many novels, Robinson considered The Dark Beyond The Stars his best but said Waiting was the most popular. Several were made into movies: The Power, which starred George Hamilton and Michael Rennie, and two collaborations with Thomas N. Scortia, The Glass Inferno, produced as The Towering Inferno and starring everyone in Hollywood from Paul Newman to O.J. Simpson, and The Gold Crew, retitled The Fifth Missile for the screen.
Robinson received the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award in 2001, and was voted First Fandom’s Moskowitz Archive Award for excellence in science fiction collecting in 2008. When he auctioned off his cherished pulp magazine collection in 2012 it fetched over a half million dollars.
He was an editor for Family Weekly, Science Digest, Rogue, Cavalier, Playboy (where he was responsible for “The Playboy Advisor”) and Censorship Today.
He authored several coffee-table volumes including Pulp Culture: The Art of Fiction Magazines and the Hugo Award-winning Science Fiction of the Twentieth Century: An Illustrated History.
Robinson served as a Navy radar technician in World War II. After receiving his discharge he took a degree in Physics at Beloit College. He rejoined the Navy during the Korean War.
He had a bit part in The Intruder, which starred William Shatner years before he did Star Trek. He also made a cameo appearance in the feature film, Milk, for the excellent reason that Robinson had worked as Harvey Milk’s speechwriter and was one of his closest advisers. In 1977, Milk became the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California.
Robinson explained that the connection happened practically by coincidence. He was in San Francisco on a writing assignment in 1973, when Milk, who owned a Castro Street camera shop, was preparing his second bid for city supervisor. Said Robinson — “I used to walk down to the Castro every morning for breakfast and pass the camera store. One day I fell into conversation with Harvey, and it came up that I was a writer. He said, ‘Hey, why don’t you be my speechwriter?’”
Locus Online has done its usual meticulous job with Frank M. Robinson’s obituary apart from the surprising choice not to mention the Harvey Milk connection at all. Wonder what’s up with that?
Sad; I knew him well. We talked physics; he kept up!
He was one of the first people I met when I went to BYOB Con V in Kansas City in 1975. He took a wonderful Polaroid photo of my best friend and me, just because he thought we would look good in a photo and he was so pleased to be able to use his new camera.
I felt privileged. I never saw him again after that convention, but I’ll never forget him.
I was just getting to know Frank…truly he will be missed.
I met Frank at ByobCon V, too, and enjoyed his company at numerous conventions after that. A delightful man. For awhile I thought cameras were a permanent fixture on his body. He will truly be missed
I optioned the film rights of Frank’s story “The Wreck of the Ship John B” and did a script back in the 1980s. Met him a few times at conventions. Great story. Nice guy.