Wanted to chime in with some more fun details about my visit with Ray Bradbury a few weeks back.
One of Ray’s great friends was the brilliant actor Charles Laughton. Ray recalled that the first time Laughton came over to his house, he towered over one of Ray’s young daughters.
“I’m very fat!” Laughton said to her.
“Yes, you are!” she replied.
Ray told me that one time he was over at Laughton’s house, soaking in the swimming pool with him. Laughton was about to play King Lear, and he asked Ray’s opinion on a number of questions relating to the play.
“Why are you asking me that?” Ray asked. “I’m not an expert on Shakespeare.”
“I know,” Laughton replied, “but you’re my ricochet board.” He was using Ray to test some of his own thoughts and ideas.
Laughton is a phenomenal actor, and if you’ve never seen his performances I urge you to check out such films as RUGGLES OF RED GAP, ISLAND OF LOST SOULS and THE CANTERVILLE GHOST. Then of course there’s NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, the only film Laughton directed, which is just spectacular.
Ray and I first became friends, by the way, when I made an audio version of MOBY DICK comparing the best performances from the film of it Ray wrote for John Huston in the Fifties, the miniseries of the Nineties, and an amazing LP recorded in the Fifties with Laughton doing a phenomenal turn as Ahab. You can hear it on www.zicree.com
When I saw Ray that day a few weeks back it was around the time of the Oscars. Ray and I generally meet in the back room of his house that serves as his office and meeting room. It’s crammed with all manner of items from his fabulous career – original art from his books, numerous editions of his work from around the world, other magpie accretions from his storied life.
Sitting smack-dab in the middle of all this is the Emmy he won for the television adaptation of his book THE HALLOWEEN TREE. But at one point I also noticed an Oscar sitting within arm’s reach.
“What this for?” I asked. I didn’t remember his winning the Emmy, although he has snagged any number of Pulitzers, National Book Awards, Hugos and even is a Commander in the French Legion of Honor.
“Oh, a neighbor gave me that. He won it years ago.”
I asked Ray if he’d mind me getting a photo with it. “Be my guest.”
What great fun… and what a wonderful friend (with a wonderful neighbor!).
All good thoughts your way,