Bill Mills (1952-2022)

Bill Mills

Las Vegas fan Bill Mills died January 9 at the age of 69, less than a week after coming home from the hospital.

Mills was a musician, filker, collector of sf movie props, and a masquerader. He was a prolific maker of videos featuring his singing.

As a young actor Mills had an uncredited appearance in the Disney movie Follow Me Boys (1966). Later in life he had acting roles or stuntman credits in a half dozen low-budget film productions.  

First meeting at the original LASFS clubhouse in 1973. 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. Photo by Stan Burns.

After Mills found his way into fandom he joined LASFS in 1970. He and his friend Robert Short were the self-proclaimed world’s biggest Man from U.N.C.L.E. fans and amassed a fantastic collection that they displayed at Westercon 23 in 1970, filling an entire room with props, scripts and other materials used on the program, plus merchandising items from around the world.

They also were part of the T.H.R.U.S.H. squad put together by David McDaniel, an LA-area author of several U.N.C.L.E. media tie-in novels. He had obtained some T.H.R.U.S.H. logo patches from the studio, and everyone in the group sewed patches on dark suits and showed up together at a local theater where U.N.C.L.E. star Robert Vaughn was playing Hamlet. After the performance they stood politely in line to greet Vaughn, and equally politely insisted they were from the “Public Relations” department of T.H.R.U.S.H. There were several more “T.H.R.U.S.H. runs” to places where they could startle people who weren’t expecting a group of fictional villains to show up. The group included Barry Gold, Robert Short, Bill Mills, Evan Hayworth, Gail Knuth, and Charles Lee Jackson II, many of whom had been Tuckerized in McDaniel’s novels.

Years later he moved to Las Vegas and became active in the Vegrants. Around 2006 he created a new website, The Voices of Fandom, which hosted fannish podcasts, historic soundbites and classic filk music. An oral history page played short testimonials by various Las Vegrants in April 2006 about how they discovered fandom. Much of the material has been saved to the Internet Archive and can be accessed here. Bill’s tech expertise also led to him being part of the Corflu 25 committee in 2008.

In recent years, Bill has been active creating music videos for his YouTube channel.

He is survived by his wife Roxanne Mills.

Look for Bill Mills at Renovation

Las Vegas fandom’s own Bill Mills will be putting on a “Filk Concert” at Renovation. Bill says he and Roxie are hoping to see many old L.A. friends and SF fans in the audience. So if you’re coming to the Worldcon, please plan to spend time Saturday night starting at 9 p.m. listening to Bill perform his versions of classic filksongs like “Mary O’Meara,” “Shottle Bop,” “Ship of Stone,” “Bouncing Potatoes” — and some new ones too!

Bill will be doing programs throughout the con:

Thu 8pm – 9pm, Liar’s Panel (Game Show), A03 Reno-Sparks Convention Center (RSCC) Panelists attempt to come up with the most outrageous prevarications in an ongoing quest to best the other panelists.
Jay Lake, James Patrick Kelly, Bill Mills, Connie Willis

Fri 1pm – 2pm, Voice Acting (Panel), A16 Reno-Sparks Convention Center (RSCC), Voice acting is resurging with the explosion in audio books and podcasts. listen to a discussion among voice actors about the field.
Bob Kuhn, Ellen Klages, Bill Mills, Lloyd Penney

Sat 2:30pm – 3pm, Reading: Bill Mills, A15 Reno-Sparks Convention Center (RSCC), “No Exit” By Larry Niven and Jean Marie Stine. With introduction written and read by Jean Marie Stine

Sat 9:00pm – 9:30pm (possibly 9pm-10pm, this is still being decided) – Peppermill Hotel – Sorrento1 room, Filk Concert – Bill Mills

Two Recent LASFS Deaths Announced

The death of Ken Porter, a LASFS member since 1976, was announced at the December 10 meeting by John Hertz. According to Ken’s sister, he had missed a couple of appointments and a check of his apartment led to the discovery that he had died some time ago. The cause of death was not immediately known. Once authorities release his body it will be cremated.

People all remember Ken as friendly and easygoing, which he was, though I also remember he had a passion to help the club, and no patience whenever any injustice was done to his friends.

Like many LASFSians, Ken appeared in Niven, Pournelle and Flynn’s novel Fallen Angels – described on page 387 as a “heavy-set black man.” He participated on “Why Is Fandom So White?” panels run at several LA area conventions in years gone by.

Phil Castora, who joined LASFS in 1962, died during the summer. This was only learned in November when Charles Lee Jackson II went to his care facility intending to drop off some back copies of APA-L. Phil was a past secretary of the LASFS, and a truly funny writer. I loved his letters of comment to File 770 – they were gems.

Phil found a lot to laugh about and he was legendary for suddenly feeling something was so funny that he would laugh uncontrollably and collapse onto the floor. Bruce Pelz described this to several of us when I was a new club member, and answered that I hoped to see it. “No you don’t,” contradicted Bruce, who had already seen it quite often.

Back in the 1970s Phil made his living for awhile as a process server, which gave him an inexhaustible source of stories about the strange and ridiculous. His personal favorite was about the lawyer who had a lot of trouble properly filling out the necessary form to respond to lawsuit for malfeasance.

Interestingly, both Ken and Phil can be seen in their prime along with a lot of other LASFSians in Bill Mills video from the party hosted by Drew and Kathy Sanders on August 10, 1980. Ken is briefly visible at the 8:02, 9:24 and 10:46 marks. Phil appears at 5:52, 9:13 and 10:45. The video is hosted on Bill’s Voices On Video site.

Jack Jardine Dies

Appreciation by Bill Mills: Author and longtime L.A. area fan Jack Jardine (aka Larry Maddock) passed away April 14, 2009 after a long illness. In addition to ongoing cardiac problems, Jardine suffered a serious stroke in 2005 from which he never fully recovered. He was 78 years of age at the time of his death and is survived by his daughter and two grandchildren.

[See the rest of Bill’s news after the jump.]

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Snappy Valentine’s Day

Snapshots #17 brings you seven developments of interest to fans.

(1) Reminiscences about Forry Ackerman by two fans who knew him for years, Alan White and Bill Mills, are featured on “The Wasted Hour” episode #9, hosted by Arnie Katz and produced and directed by Mills. The ‘cast is available on several sites, including the Las Vegrants website, The Fan Video Network (along with all previous episodes), the podcasting communites and as an iTunes vidcast.

(2) The Los Angeles Times “Hero Complex Blog” carries an intriguing rumor about attempts to make a Jonny Quest movie:

One of the more intriguing popcorn-movie scripts floating around town right now is Dan Mazeau’s rollicking live-action adaptation of “Jonny Quest,” the savvy and sublime 1960s animated adventure series that felt like “Dr. No” for kids or a post-Sputnik version of “Terry and the Pirates.”

(3) This is as wild a piece of technological art as you would ever want to see. Check out the video of the Corpus Clock in action:

At first glance, it doesn’t look like a clock. There’s the giant fanged insect on top. And instead of hands, it uses glowing blue LEDs to tell the time. Called the Corpus Clock—it’s installed at Corpus Christi College in Cambridge, England—the timepiece was designed by John Taylor, an alumnus, clock collector, and lifelong inventor who wanted to blend 18th-century tech with a hypermodern aesthetic. The bug is called a Chronophage, or time-eater, and it’s actually a scarier version of the grasshopper escapement, a 1720s breakthrough that transformed clock making. But in this case the pendulum-driven heart is wedded to a silicon brain, which lets the device do surprisingly un-clocklike things—slow down, stop, even run backward. “I wanted a clock that would play with you,” Taylor says. How steampunkeriffic.

(4) I should verify this with Scott and Jane Dennis, but it sounds like Henry the Eighth only wore what we might today call fannish medium size:

Early in Henry VIII’s reign the Venetian Ambassador described him as “the handsomest potentate I ever set eyes on, with an extremely fine calf to his leg . . . and a round face so very beautiful that it would become a pretty woman.”

Six wives, one Reformation and a lot of feasting later, Henry had become, by the time of his death in 1547, larger than life.

The Royal Armouries show, Henry VIII: Dressed to Kill, will be built around five complete suits of armour from the Tower, the Armouries in Leeds and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, as well as incomplete ones. “It will be the one place where you see the king in three dimensions and get an idea of his immense physical presence,” Graeme Rimer, academic director of the Royal Armouries, said. “The armour tells us unequivocally that he was 6ft 1in and that he was pretty enormous but still vigorous at the end of his life.”

(5) Probably not the most romantic Valentine’s Day gift, but you can order a t-shirt captioned “And then Buffy staked Edward.”

(6) Vanessa Redgrave and her daughter Joely Richardson are among the star cast announced for the BBC’s new version of sci-fi classic The Day of The Triffids. “No word on who plays any of the triffids, though,” says Andrew Porter.

(7) Nebula Weekend Registration Now Online:

Some of the highlights include: a mixer with the WGA, Chuck Lorre will be the Keynote Speaker, Harry Harrison will receive the Grand Master Award, Janis Ian will be our Toastmistress and much, much more.

[For links included here, thanks to James Hay, Andrew Porter, Arnie Katz and Darlene Marshall.]

Corflu in My Ears

Bill Mills’ Voice of Fandom podcast #16 allows your ears to spend an hour at the recent Corflu Silver. Bill & Roxy Mills lead in with their experiences from the convention, followed by the Opening Ceremony. There’s a treasure trove of music: Bill’s “Goin’ To Corflu Blues” and his duets with Teresa Cochran; Nic Farey sings “Werewolves of Fandom,” and 90-year-old Art Widner sings the first filksong ever written. There’s even an excerpt from the performance of Andy Hooper’s play.  

Bill Mills Starts Virtual Fan Lounge

Bill Mills, encouraged by the success of last weekend’s Corflu Silver Virtual Con Suite, is launching a continuous Virtual Fan Lounge utilizing the same software.

According to Arnie Katz: “As with the Virtual Con Suite, the Virtual Fan Lounge will have live and re-broadcast video feeds when available and will feature slide shows of fannish photos, cartoons or other graphics when there’s no video to show.

“The first live video feed will occur on Saturday, May 3. The Vegrants invite you to join them for their meeting, which is likely to include music by Bill Mills and Teresa Cochran and discussions featuring some of the Vegrants. The approximate starting time is 8:00 p.m. PDT (but it wouldn’t hurt to check in earlier). The Virtual Fan Lounge will have a live feed from the club on the first and third Saturdays of every month.”

To visit The Virtual Fan Lounge go to Select “Virtual Fan Lounge” from the menu. That will take you to a page of information about the chat room which includes a link to the Virtual Fan Lounge. Registration and sign-in is only required to participate,  not to read.

Update 5/2/08: Corrected registration requirement to match what it says at the site.