(August 27, 1926 – )
Marianita Beatrice Wolf (briefly Graham and Snodgrass; sometimes also given as Marion Wolf), a Los Angeles fan and author, ran a fan column, "Fandora's Box" (also the name of her Hollywood apartment), for the Imagination from April 1951 to April 1956. Wolf wrote about SF and fandom, reviewed and ranked fanzines, and interviewed authors.
Fandora's Box was inspired by the "The Club House," column by Rog Phillips (pseudonym of Roger Phillip Graham, Wolf’s later husband) which appeared from 1948 to 1953 in Amazing and later in other SF magazines edited by Ray Palmer.
Several of Wolf's SF stories appeared in If, including the novella Homo Inferior (November 1953). She was first to use the abbreviation droid for a robot, in her July 1952 debut, "Robots of the World! Arise!"
In an autobiography in the March 1952 Imagination, she wrote that her family spent the first three years of her life in Ecuador and then in Laguna Beach, California. She’d wanted to be a writer since she was 5 years old and discovered SF in high school; her other major hobby was horse-riding. She majored in mathematics at UCLA.
Since college, I’ve done various things. I taught dancing for a while. I did some modeling. I spent a lot of time out at the stables. And I kept on reading science fiction. Eventually I became acquainted with Los Angeles fandom and became an Outlander.
Later recollection by Len Moffatt (recorded by Earl Terry Kemp) puts this as Wolf attending Westercon 3, organised by the Outlander Society in July 1950, where she made a good impression, a lot of friends, and was invited to join as a part of outreach to femmefans. By 1950, Wolf was also a the N3F member.
“Mari met Roger Phillips Graham at the convention, and it was love at first whatever... When I heard about Mari and Rog, I asked my old friend Stan Woolston what Rog was like. Stan said, ‘He reminds me of you.’ Rog and I would become friends — I never really hated him as we had never met until after his marriage to Mari.”
Wolf painted this differently in her profile:
Then I read in Rog Phillips’ Club House in Amazing Stories how much fun science fiction conventions can be, and I made up my mind to go to the one in Portland.
She met Phillips there on September 1, and married him in Chicago the next month; in his own column, he dates it Tuesday, October 24. Ray Palmer and Bea Mahaffey were their witnesses. The marriage lasted only a few years, though.
By 1955, Mari Wolf was working as a "calculating-machine operator" at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Moffatt's recollection, in the context of 1950, said "worked in wind tunnel design"). She remained active in fandom for several years, appearing in the program of the 1958 Solacon, "organized and run by the Outlanders". She also wrote a crime paperback, The Golden Frame (1961), but then her sf traces disappear.
Kemp summarized Moffatt's memories as "she gafiated and remarried". That November 1961 marriage, to mundane Frank S. Snodgrass, lasted until at least 1964 based on a voter record naming her Mari W. Snodgrass; no later records using that name have been found. In 1976 she (or they) bought a house in Norco, nicknamed "Horsetown USA", where she lived until a court-appointed conservator sold it for her in 2009.
More Reading and Photographs
- "Introducing the author: Mari Wolf", Imagination March 1952, p. 2 and 76–7
- 1957 photo in The LASFS Album (1966).
- Solacon Final Report (2 MiB PDF; centerfold top middle) contains a small photo of Mari Wolf participating in the "Lysistrata panel"
- Entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.
- Works at Project Gutenberg.
- Reprint of Wolf’s story “Prejudice” (Destiny Winter 1953–4, with art by Julian May) and a reminiscence about her column by Ted White and another by Earl Kemp in e.I #5, 2002 (PDF, HTML)
- “Intelligence Test” by Mari Wolf, Vega 5 (December 1952, p. 4).
- Birth record index at FamilySearch (free account required; the place given as San Bernardino, California, mother's birth surname as Murray); see also the marriage record below. Nota bene that earlier sources dated this as 1927, starting at least with Donald H. Tuck's Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy Volume 2, Who's Who: M–Z, 1978. It remains to be seen whether her age was ever mentioned in her columns or story introductions.
- Earl Terry Kemp, "Len Moffatt: A portrait of a fan", in e*I vol. 6 no. 1 (whole no. 30), February 2007
- Amazing March 1951 p. 146. Wikipedia claims Wolf's column was a wedding gift – Imagination editor William L. Hamling was among the guests. Phillips only hinted that Mari "refuses to be relegated to assistant conductor of the CLUB HOUSE" and was starting her own. Somehow, the meeting and marriage are mis-dated to 1951 in Wolf's Imagination bio (possibly an erroneous editorial intervention as “Fandora's Box” in the issue was clearly written still in 1951, so she may have used "last year"), which several sources continue to mis-report, but Phillips' column, both its content and date of publication, makes this quite unambiguous. Marriage record on Family Search gives the place as Cook County, Illinois, and "Spouse's Age" as 24, also implying Wolf's birth in 1926.
- The exact date of the divorce is not known yet but Fantasy Times 248 reported that on 14 May 1956, Phillips married another Big Name Fan Honey Wood.
- “Keeping Posted: In the Jet Laboratory,” Saturday Evening Post March 5, 1955, p. 112 with an anecdote about her being "a science fiction writer." The following phrase "the science (sic!) writer, a lady named Mari Wolf" might suggest that the marriage was over by then, on the other hand she used the birth surname for writing throughout her career. It still remains to be researched whether the divorce was mentioned in any fanzines or even the couple's columns, or if something could be gleaned from matters like CoA. The ordering of Moffatt's and Earl Kemp's recollections might put it even before 1954; however Phillips's profile in Imagination March 1953 still mentioned "my wife (Mari Wolf)".
- Marriage record on FamilySearch (free account required): 4 Nov 1961 in Clark, Nevada
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