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Overview for Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury



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Also Known As: Died: June 5, 2012
Born: August 22, 1920 Cause of Death: Undetermined
Birth Place: Waukegan, Illinois, USA Profession: Writer ... screenwriter novelist


o of his most enduring works, Dandelion Wine (1957), a semi-autobiographical accounting of his childhood set in the fictional Green Town, IL, and Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962), a fantasy-horror novel about a traveling circus that lures unsuspecting customers with the promise of fulfilling offers to live out their most secret fantasies. The novel was highly praised by critics, who dubbed it an instant classic of the genre, while becoming heavily influential on future horror writers like Stephen King. Also that year, he penned the 100th episode, "I Sing the Body Electric," for "The Twilight Zone" (CBS, 1959-1964) TV series. Based on his short story of the same name, the episode was poorly received by reviewers, some of whom later deemed it one of the most disappointing of the entire series. Though it would be another 10 years before he published another novel, Bradbury continued to churn out short stories like "The Man in the Rorschach Shirt" (1964) and "The Lost City of Mars" (1967), as well as numerous story collections. Meanwhile, his stories were routinely adapted for film and television, including "The Illustrated Man" (1969) and "The Screaming Woman" (ABC, 1972).

In the 1970s, Bradbury began to venture into other forms of expression; most notably poetry and plays. After publishing the novel The Halloween Tree (1972), which he later adapted into an Emmy Award-winning television movie in 1993, NBC adapted "The Martian Chronicles" (1980) into a three-part miniseries starring Rock Hudson, Roddy McDowall and Bernadette Peters. Bradbury later remarked that he thought the adaptation was "boring." He next had "The Invisible Boy" adapted into "Robbers, Rooftops and Witches" (CBS, 1982), while his play "Any Friend of Nicholas Nickleby is a Friend of Mine" (PBS, 1982) was made into an "American Playhouse" special. Following a successful big screen adaptation of "Something Wicked This Way Comes" (1983), Bradbury began writing and hosting "The Ray Bradbury Theater" (HBO/USA, 1985-1992), an anthology series that consisted of episodes based on novels or short stories he had written. The author penned each episode himself, while the series attracted a wide array of actors, including William Shatner, Drew Barrymore, Elliott Gould and Shelley Duvall. He also wrote one of his most influential and popular non-fiction works, Zen in the Art of Writing, which was a collection of essays that he wrote about his love of the art form that had made him famous.

Once the series was over in 1992, Bradbury focused his attention more on his prose than with occasional returns to the screen, though he may have been better off staying away from the dismal television movie "It Came from Outer Space II" (Syfy, 1996). Meanwhile, Bradbury remained busy on the lecture circuit while also serving as a consultant for numerous different corporate ventures, including helping to design the original Epcot Center for the Disney and lecturing NASA astronauts at Cape Canaveral. As he got on in years, Bradbury showed no signs of slowing down and in some instances even increased his output with several collections, including One More for the Road (2002) and The Cat's Pajamas: Stories (2004), and the novels Let's Kill Constance (2002) and Farewell Summer (2006). In 2005, he criticized filmmaker Michael Moore for titling his critical look at the George W. Bush presidency "Fahrenheit 9/11," which he did strictly for literary, not political reasons. The year before, ironically, Bradbury had received the National Medal of Arts from President Bush. Sadly, just prior to that happy occasion, Bradbury lost his wife of 56 years, Maggie, in 2003. But Bradbury continued his work unabated, publishing collections like Summer Morning, Summer Night (2007) and We'll Always Have Paris: Stories (2009). On June 6, 2012, the author passed away at age 91 in Los Angeles.1942), in which he discovered his distinctive style that would provide the 22-year-old enough confidence to quit selling newspapers and to become a fulltime writer.

For the next several years, Bradbury focused on churning out short stories; most notably "The Watchers" (1945), "Invisible Boy" (1945) and "The Small Assassin" (1947). In 1946, Bradbury met the love of his life, Maggie McClure, while scouring the shelves of the bookstore where she worked, and married her a year later. Also that year, he published his collection of short stories, Dark Carnival (1947), which for many ensuing years Bradbury refused to have reprinted. But it was The Martian Chronicles (1950) that proved to be his breakthrough. The collection of short stories about the colonization of Mars by humans fleeing a self-destructing Earth was a breath of fresh air for science fiction, which till then had been plagued by overly-technical stories high on jargon and gadgets, but lacking in literary merit. Bradbury's collection bucked sci-fi tradition and dared to employ metaphor, rich characters and an unbridled enthusiasm for storytelling. Bradbury owed the book's success to acclaimed novelist, Christopher Isherwood, whom he met in a Santa Monica bookstore and unabashedly approached to give the author a signed copy of his novel. Isherwood soon published a glowing review of The Martian Chronicles, turning it into a bestseller and changing the course of Bradbury's life.

With The Martian Chronicles, Bradbury single-handedly change sci-fi novels forever and elevated himself into the same league as Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, all of whom were trying to bring literary respectability to a genre considered to be a refuge for hacks. A mere three years later, he published what proved to be his seminal novel, Fahrenheit 451 (1953), a dystopian satire about a hedonistic, anti-intellectual American society set in the future where books have been outlawed and subject to burning by so-called firemen, who are called in to torch collections being held by secret readers. Part satire of current events; park dark warning of what the future might hold, Fahrenheit 451 - which was named after the temperature at which books burn - was the novel that propelled Bradbury past being a mere sci-fi writer into the echelon of great literary novelists. Following its publication, the novel was serialized in 1954 in Playboy magazine and was turned into a rather disappointing film by Francois Truffaut in 1966. Most importantly, however, Bradbury wrote a novel that became synonymous with dystopian future in much the same way as George Orwell's 1984 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.

Meanwhile, Bradbury turned to writing for the screen, penning the story for the science fiction classic, "It Came from Outer Space" (1953), and several episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (CBS/NBC, 1955-1965). Returning to film, Bradbury had what he later described as "the worst six months of my life" when he adapted Herman Melville's Moby Dick for John Huston in 1956. Starring Gregory Peck as the brooding and obsessive Captain Ahab, Bradbury's adaptation of the novel stayed true to Melville's allegorical tale, though his success came at a price. Bradbury was wooed by a charming Huston, who lured the writer to Ireland to write the script, and proceeded to berate and browbeat the sensitive writer for the next six months. So cruel was Huston's treatment of Bradbury that the writer wanted to quit; only his love for Melville's novel and his appreciation for the opportunity kept him from there. He later recounted the experience in the fictional account Green Shadows, White Whale (1992), which he was inspired to write after reading Katherine Hepburn's rather dull book about the filming of "The African Queen" (1951).

Despite his forays into the high-profile world of screenwriting, Bradbury continued to find solace in writing novels. He next published tw

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