Friday, September 24, 2021


From the team that brought you The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom celebrates the centennial of Ray Bradbury’s birth with the publication of a unique volume of his earliest writing as a science fiction fan. Fans of Ray Bradbury will find this book a real treat (tho, not without an expensive price for the hardcover edition). 
Like iconic predecessors Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, Bradbury's work has stood the test of time. A virtuoso composer with language, he sang the bodies electric and human. His stories reached beyond the mainstream of science fiction, earning him recognition with the National Medal of Arts and a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation.

But you know all this. 

What you may know less well is that Bradbury began his life in science fiction as a fan, actively immersed in the nascent community of fans in the late 1930s who would shape the genre for the next several decades. Bradbury fell in with Forrest J Ackerman and the Los Angeles Science Fiction League (LASFL) in October 1937 at the age of 17. Just four months later, his first published science fiction story appeared in the January 1938 issue of the club’s organ, Imagination!

THE EARLIEST BRADBURY fills some important some gaps in that history. Here, readers will have a unique opportunity to experience some of Bradbury’s earliest steps on his road to mastery. A treasure trove of Bradbury's articles and stories from 1937 - 1941 are reproduced in full facsimile form, as they were originally published in amateur fanzines. These are not the short stories that appeared in anthologies and short story collections over the decades. Most of these artifacts have never been available outside the musty archives of fanatical collectors of early fan history. Letters, brief snippets of story ideas and proposals and other goodies make up this lavish coffee table book.

You can visit the publishers' website and order a copy today. The hardcover edition is limited to a printing of 100. Also, you can flip through the pages of the book virtually to look inside (a really cool feature).

“Ray Bradbury was a time traveler, his fantastic imagination replenished by memories of a childhood immersed in wonder. THE EARLIEST BRADBURY is itself a time machine, transporting us to the fulcrum point of Bradbury’s life when the ardent fan became a published writer. Through an excavation of rare publications, evocative photos and revealing illustrations, the book recreates a genuinely magical period of Bradbury’s life that continued to inform his later career. This is an essential work to understand his artistic development, and that of American fantasy in general.”
                — Michael Saler, Professor of History, University of California, Davis
                Author of As If: Modern Enchantment and the Literary Prehistory of Virtual Reality

“The Earliest Bradbury represents the first comprehensive effort to bring together the full visual spectrum of Ray Bradbury’s interactions with the many fanzine editors who constituted the First Fandom universe across America in the late 1930s and early 1940s. These archival images from original publications breathe life into the elusive record of the young Ray Bradbury satirizing, imitating, and experimenting with the craft of writing on the eve of beginning his seven-decade professional career.”
                — Jonathan Eller, Chancellor’s Professor and director of 
                The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University

Thursday, September 16, 2021


Great news! The great character actor Nehemiah Persoff recently finished his memoirs. If the name is not familiar, his face and voice would be. Anyone who has ever watched classic TV shows and movies knows the man... and here we have the opportunity to reach into the mind of the author... revealing (with poignancy and humor) his cultural and ethical clash with Broadway and Hollywood.


Born in 1919 in Jerusalem, Nehemiah Persoff immigrated with his family to America in 1929. Following schooling at the Hebrew Technical Institute of New York, he found a job as a subway electrician doing signal maintenance until an interest in the theater altered the direction of his life.

He joined amateur groups and subsequently won a scholarship to the Dramatic Workshop in New York. This led to what would have been his Broadway debut in a production of "Eve of St. Mark", but he was fired before the show opened. He made his official New York debut in a production of "The Emperor's New Clothes" in 1940.

WWII interrupted his young career in 1942, returning to the stage after his hitch in the Army was over, three years later. He sought work in stock plays and became an intern of Stella Adler  and, as a result, a strong exponent of the Actor's Studio. Discovered by Charles Laughton and cast in his production of "Galileo" in 1947, Persoff made his film debut a year later with an uncredited bit in THE NAKED CITY (1948).

Persoff as the cab driver in ON THE WATERFRONT (1954).


Short, dark, chunky-framed and with a distinct talent for dialects, Persoff became known primarily for his ethnic villainy, usually playing authoritative Eastern Europeans. In a formidable career that had him portraying everything from cab drivers to Joseph Stalin, standout film roles would include Leo in THE HARDER THEY FALL (1956) with Humphrey Bogart, Gene Conforti in Alfred Hitchcock’s THE WRONG MAN (1956), Albert in THE SEA WALL (1957) and gangster Johnny Torrio in AL CAPONE (1959). 

Nehemiah Persoff on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND

It was that same year he played another gangster, the small role of Little Bonaparte, in SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959), alongside Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe. He was a durable performer during television’s “Golden Age” as he made guest appearances on six episodes of GUNSMOKE, MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE, THE WILD, WILD WEST, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., THE UNTOUCHABLES, PLAYHOUSE 90 and THE TWILIGHT ZONE. In recent years he appeared on CHICAGO HOPE, MURDER SHE WROTE and LAW AND ORDER, playing hundreds of intense, volatile and dominating characters.

"Judgment Night" episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE. 

In later years, his characters grew a bit softer as Barbara Streisand’s Jewish father in YENTL (1983) and the voice of Papa Mousekewitz in AN AMERICAN TAIL (1986) will attest. Later stage work included well-received productions of "I'm Not Rappaport" and his biographical one-man show "Sholem Aleichem."

After declining health and high blood pressure forced him to slow down, Persoff took up painting in 1985, studying sketching in Los Angeles. Specializing in watercolor, he has created around 100 works of art, many of which have been exhibited up and down the coast of California. He celebrated his 100th birthday in 2019.

To order his book, click here:


Friday, September 10, 2021

Silent Vignettes by Tim Lussier

More than two decades ago Anthony Slide wrote a magnificent book titled Nitrate Can't Wait, featuring documentary write-ups about silent movies that have since become lost due to lack of preservation. Slide not only documented what was considered a "lost" silent gem, but helped preserve some of those films we will never see. Flash forward to today and we have Tim Lussier carrying the torch. For almost three decades, Tim posts on a regular basis an essay (or news brief) about films and film stars from the silent era before the major motion pictures switched to synchronized sound. 

Silent movies are Tim's pill of choice... and an addiction. Tim is more than a collector -- he is a collector, educator, and writer with enthusiasm for silent movies. His insightful articles on actress Virginia Lee Corbin (written with the full cooperation of Virginia's surviving sons) led to the publication of the first-ever biography on that quintessential flapper, Bare Knees Flapper: The Life and Films of Virginia Lee Corbin, published by McFarland in 2018. So dedicated was he to the subject, in fact, that he personally paid to restore one of Corbin's feature films, Headlines (1925), held at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. and eventually released to the silent film video market. 

So it comes as no surprise that he authored a new book of lively essays about various silent screen actors, from Pickford, Chaplin, Keaton and Garbo -- as well as profiles on Reginald Denny, Francelia Billington, Virginia Brown Faire, Harold Lockwood, Viola Richard, George Fawcett and Anita Garvin. There is also a three-part dissertation on the beautiful Novak sisters, Jane and Eva. In his book, Silent Vignettes, Tim reveals how much water played a role in many of Keaton's stunts, the incomparable Betty Compson, the rise, reign and requiem of the Lubin Manufacturing Company, the mysterious death of Olive Thomas, a chapter on the stuntmen who risked their lives, the war-themed movies and bond drives of Mary Pickford, the silk hat comedian known as Raymond Griffith, and the silent ladies of Chaplin's films.

As you might surmise, these are not just biographies of silent screen actors and actresses. Let us be honest, there are plenty of books that serve that purpose. (I have a few on my bookshelf.) This book documents various aspects of silent screen stars and studios that make this book worth reading. If you love silent movies, this is a must-have for your bookshelf.

To order a copy of the book, click here:

If you want to check out his website, visit

Friday, September 3, 2021

DIAL 999: A Television Review

A few months ago I purchased a DVD set for a television program titled DIAL 999. Starring Robert Beatty in the lead role as a modern-day Canadian Mountie who ventures to England to help assist Scotland Yard with cleaning up the crime in the streets, this series ran one full year in the late 1950s. Based on the files of Scotland Yard, the stories were abound with detective work and explosive entertainment. Shrewd maneuvers to thwart the desperate, dangerous quarry are found in every episode. To sum up an accurate description of this series, I consider this the British equivalent of America's Dragnet

Along the way I saw some familiar faces such as William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton, but also the screen debut of Barbara Steele. But the real star is Robert Beatty as Detective Inspector Mike Maguire. He was born in Canada (so his Canadian accent is authentic) and he served for a time as a British Police Constable during World War II. If the actor's name is not familiar, his face may be. He played supporting roles in Odd Man Out (1947) with James Mason, Man on a Tightrope (with Frederic March), and in Something of Value (with Rock Hudson and Dana Wynter). 

The DVD set was issued in England and while the print transfers are drop dead gorgeous, the format is in PAL. If you do not have a region-free DVD player, you will not be able to play these. But if you do have a region-free DVD player, do yourself a favor and buy this. A couple friends of mine followed my advice and both, later and separately, called to tell me out of the blue that they appreciated the recommendation because they enjoyed this series very much.