Library Honors Ray Bradbury with a Special Collection for its Ray Bradbury Conference Room
by Steve Fjeldsted, Library Director
The Library and the Friends of the Library screened the 50s Sci Fi classic “It Came From Outer Space” for a large, appreciative audience on October 18. The remarkable film, Ray Bradbury’s first, followed closely on the heels of the masterpieces “The Martian Chronicles” (1950) and “Fahrenheit 451” (1952). Before those two books, Ray had been making his living writing stories for pulp magazines, often only for $200 each.
“It Came from Outer Space” marked Bradbury's initial writing for movies. Ray wrote a story treatment entitled "The Meteor" and submitted it to Universal which hired him to expand it. The relatively low budget film was a sensation at the box office and in theaters where many moviegoers donned 3-D goggles for the first time. It is said to have been highly influential at the times to two youngsters by the names of John Carpenter and Steven Spielberg who grew up to become world famous directors and filmmakers.
Ray Bradbury’s achievements are awe-inspiring and far too numerous to be recounted here, but they include an Emmy, an Oscar nomination for one of his short films, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. An asteroid’s been named after him and a moon crater was dubbed Dandelion in his honor. In 2004 he was given the National Medal of Honor by President George W. Bush and in 2007 he received a special citation from the Pulitzer Board for his influential career. In his book Danse Macabre, none other than Stephen King stated that his first experience of real horror came from Ray Bradbury.
Ray Bradbury Autographs a book for a fan in Library Conference Room in 2010
The South Pasadena Public Library continues to honor Ray Bradbury, who passed away in 2012 in LA at age 91. Ray has left an amazing literary legacy career of more than 70 years that encompasses over 50 books and 600 short stories. Ray also wrote an incredible wealth of essays, poems, plays, articles, and screenplays. Ray was also a pinpoint futurist whose works predicted, earbuds, Bluetooth headsets, Facebook-style social interaction, self-driving cars, electronic surveillance, ATMs, and the news media’s sensationalizing of events.
Since the passing of Ray Bradbury, the Library and the Friends have partnered with a number of other organizations to present a number of tribute events, including the screening of Bradbury’s “The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit,” with star Joe Mantegna and director Stuart Gordon offering introductions. The Library and Friends have also presented “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” “The Halloween Tree,” and “Fahrenheit 451,” the latter as part of its city-wide One Book reading project that focused on the Bradbury novel of the same name.
Ray with Fahrenheit 451 Cast Members at Fremont Centre Theatre
The Library has also been continuously developing its Bradbury collection since his passing. It now consists of more than 100 checkout books and DVDs and a special ‘reference only’ collection for the Ray Bradbury Conference Room. The special collection has received about 200 very special donations that are starting to appear in its locked cases. Wonderful donations have come from Bradbury friends and colleagues John King Tarpinian and Robert Kerr, as well as local library supporters Carl von Bibra and Craig and Patti Graham.
Dave Marchant of Alhambra, a friend and associate of Bradbury’s, who was once a resident of South Pasadena, met the author more than 20 years ago. Marchant was already an avid Sci Fi buff who knew and admired accomplished writers Forrest Ackerman and George Clayton Johnson. Dave was writing stories that eventually were inspired by Bradbury’s encouragement. Marchant and Bradbury soon became friends and Dave at times “chauffeured” Ray to his appearances at bookstores and libraries, becoming a serious Bradbury collector in the process. Today, Dave Marchant is a frequent user of the South Pasadena Library and has so far donated more than 100 rare books, DVDs, audios, press kits, posters, and more in honor his friend and mentor.
Library Donor Dave Marchant Gives a Nod to His Friends and Mentor (Photo credit: Steve Whitmore/South Pasadena Review)
The Library is already looking forward to presenting a big Ray Bradbury Centennial Birthday event on August 22, 2020 and developing other tribute projects to the remarkable author who was considered by many to be the “Greatest Living Science Fiction Author” as far back as the 1970s and the “Greatest Living California Author” long before he passed away. His magnum opus “Fahrenheit 451” still sells 50,000 copies a year in the United States alone.
Dave Marchant shows some of his donations for the Ray Bradbury Conference Room