R.I.P. Ray Bradbury, Author of Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles
Ray Bradbury — author of The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and many more literary classics — died this morning in Los Angeles, at the age of 91.
His grandson, Danny Karapetian, shared these words about his grandfather’s passing: “If I had to make any statement, it would be how much I love and miss him, and I look forward to hearing everyone’s memories about him. He influenced so many artists, writers, teachers, scientists, and it’s always really touching and comforting to hear their stories. Your stories. His legacy lives on in his monumental body of books, film, television and theater, but more importantly, in the minds and hearts of anyone who read him, because to read him was to know him. He was the biggest kid I know.”
Ray Douglas Bradbury was born on August 22, 1920, in Waukegan, Illinois. He was the third son in the family. His father, Leonard Spaulding Bradbury, was a telephone lineman and technician. His mother, Esther Marie Bradbury (nee Moberg), was a Swedish immigrant. His grandfather and great-grandfather were newspaper publishers. In 1934 his family settled in Los Angeles, California. There young Bradbury often roller-skated through Hollywood, trying to spot celebrities.
Bradbury shot to international fame after publication of his short story collection “The Martian Chronicles” (1950), which was partially based on ideas from ancient Greek and Roman mythology. Then he followed the anti-Utopian writers Yevgeni Zamyatin and Aldous Huxley in his best known work, “Farenheit 451” (1953). He wrote the original manuscript on a rented typewriter in a public library, from handwritten notes and outlines. It first appeared in print in a shortened form (of about 25,000 words) in Galaxy magazine and later in its present length but in serial format in the just starting out Playboy Magazine. The 1966 film adaptation (Fahrenheit 451 (1966)) by director Francois Truffaut’ , starring Julie Christie, received several nominations.
He had a series of short stories which his publisher said would never sell, so he linked the stories together and created the novel “The Martian Chronicles.” He was paid just $500 for the story. Bradbury was not happy with the 1980 TV adaptation (“Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles” (1980)) starring Rock Hudson. His other novels and stories also have been adapted to films and television, as well as for radio, theatre and comic books. Bradbury has written episodes for Alfred Hitchcock‘s TV series, as well as for many other TV productions. His total literary output is close to 600(!!!) short stories, more than 30 books and numerous poems and plays. In 1950, he discovered that comic book publisher William M. Gaines (later famous for producing Mad Magazine) had published several of his stories without his permission. Bradbury wrote Gaines a letter praising the artwork and treatment of his story, and politely asked for his royalty payment. He got it! (How times have changed!)
In 2004 Bradbury received a National Medal of Arts. He was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6644 Hollywood Blvd. An asteroid is named in his honor, “9766 Bradbury”, and the Apollo astronaut named a crater on the moon “Dandelion Crater“, after his novel, ‘Dandelion Wine’. Bradbury also received the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Grand Master Award from Science Fiction Writers of America, an Emmy Award for his work as a writer on ‘The Halloween Tree’, and many other awards and honors. His works were translated in more than 40 languages and sold tens of millions of copies around the world.
He never drove.