Harlan Ellison

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(May 27, 1934 – June 28, 2018)

Harlan Jay Ellison was one of the sf community’s most notorious figures.


He entered fandom in the Cleveland area and was an actifan in the 1950s, attending Midwestcon 1, a member of the Cleveland Science Fantasy Society (for which he edited Science Fantasy Bulletin), regular contributor to Science Fiction Five-Yearly. He was a member of The Terrans and the N3F.

7th Fandomites Bill Dignin, John Magnus and Harlan Ellison, from left, at Clevention in 1955. Photo by Howard DeVore.

He rallied the Phony 7th Fandomites at HEcon in his apartment and led them, wielding the scarlet Birdbath, to Midwestcon 4. The jeering reception these antics received had him ranting, “The mad dogs have kneed us in the groin...!

Just about every fan who ever knew him (and some who did not) has a Harlan Ellison Story. Legends have grown around him, such as the Midwestcon Door Incident, the Jellybeans, the St. Louiscon Movie Screen Affair and the savage, sullen, defiant and contemptuous tale of Cheech. He once tried to auction off a pregnant Carolyn Hickman on a street corner in Bellefontaine, Ohio, and he attempted to stop mere fans from being Hugo nominators at Pacificon II.

Ellison at Midwestcon 3, 1952.

Driving cross country to SFCon, the 1954 Worldcon in San Francisco, with Roger Sims and George Young, Harlan, behind the wheel, made an error in judgment, and they were chased by police. "Change seats!" Harlan ordered. "I don't have a license!" Barreling down the road, with the cops still pursuing, he and Roger traded spots, and Roger was able to talk his way out of the ticket.

Fanzines include Ellison Wonderland (a title he would reuse for a short story collection and as the name of his house in Sherman Oaks, CA), Seventh Fandom, The Kong Papers (with Bill Rotsler), Dimensions, An Invitation, A Statement of Posture (with Al Lewis for FAPA), and Vector (with Jim Schrieber).


In the late 1950s, he started writing professionally and by the ’60s was in Los Angeles area, writing scripts for Hollywood, media nonfiction and sf. His sf quickly established him as one of the most talented short-fiction writers in the field. (At 5-foot-2½, he was a was a short fiction writer, too.) He belonged to the Hydra Club and the MWA.

He used the pseudonym Cordwainer Bird to alert the public when he felt his creative contribution to a project had been mangled. Other pennames: Phil "Cheech" Beldone, Jay Charby, Sley Harson, Ellis Hart, John Magnus, Paul Merchant, Pat Roeder, Ivar Jorgenson, Derry Tiger, Harlan Ellis and Jay Solo.

He was GoH at Iguanacon II, the 1978 Worldcon, where he spent the convention living in a camper because of his opposition to Arizona's refusal to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.

Possibly his most famous project is the (never finished) Last Dangerous Visions.

Personal Life[edit]

He was a notorious skirt chaser, and often crude about it. When he grabbed Connie Willis’ left breast on stage at the 2006 Hugo Awards ceremony and later claimed, “there was the slightest touch. A shtick, a gag between friends, absolutely NO sexual content,” this history did him no favors in fannish opinion.

He was married five times; all but the last marriage brief and ending in divorce: Charlotte B. Stein (1956–1960)​, Billie Joyce Sanders ​(1960–1963)​, Loretta (Basham) Patrick (1966–1966)​, Lori Horowitz (1976–ca. 1977)​, Susan Toth (1986–his death 2018)​.

Ellison was frequently abrasive and argumentative, and he generally agreed with that characterization. Despite his own fannish background, he tended to be especially rude to and about fans and fandom. He was also quite litigious. And sometimes violent -- among other incidents, he slugged Charles Platt at the 1985 Nebula Awards.

A good friend of Ellison’s, Robert Bloch, spoke at a roast for him, saying that other people take infinite pains; "Harlan gives them."

More reading:

Fanzines and Apazines:

Awards, Honors and GoHships:
Hugo Award wins:

Hugo Award nominations: 1956 Most Promising New Author Hugo, 1967 Best Short Story Hugo, 1968 Best Fan Writer Hugo, 1968 Best Novelette Hugo, 1970 Best Novella Hugo, 1971 Best Short Story Hugo, 1971 Best Novella Hugo, 1973 Best Novelette Hugo, 1976 Best Short Story Hugo, 1978 Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo, 1979 Best Short Story Hugo, 1981 Best Novella Hugo, 1985 Best Non-Fiction Book Hugo, 1986 Best Non-Fiction Book Hugo, 1988 Best Other Forms Hugo, 1989 Best Novelette Hugo, 1990 Best Non-Fiction Book Hugo, 1994 Best Novella Hugo

Person 19342018
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