On today, what would have been his 95th birthday, here is an anecdote from my own life that I posted when science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury passed away at the age of 91 on June 5, 2012.
I met Ray Bradbury when I was 12, maybe 13 years old, in Fresno, California. He had just given some lecture to some literary society and I had used my big puppydog eyes to full-effect to charm my way in to the event, though I didn’t have a ticket.
It was after the event and he had been ushered off-stage (it was a theater, I remember, maybe at the university?), but I had sneaked my way behind the curtain.
He had a drink in his hand, of what, I don’t know. I introduced myself. I would like to be a novelist someday, too, I said.
When he was about my age, he began, young Ray Bradbury dreamed of someday meeting WC Fields. He was WC Fields’ biggest fan. As fate would have it, Bradbury didn’t live too far from the studios in Hollywood where Fields worked.
So one day the kid decided to sneak onto the lot. He did, he got caught, he implored the guard to let him meet Fields and finally – after employing his own puppydog eyes, no doubt – Bradbury won the recalcitrant guard to his side. But upon meeting Fields, the boy was overwhelmed. I’m your biggest fan, Ray told him. WC Fields took a long look at the boy.
After a silence, Fields said to young Bradbury: “Get outta here ya little shit, ya bother me.”
In my hand I held a paper flier for the event. Bradbury took it from me and signed it with a scribble. In a moment after a silence, he looked at this star-struck young would-be sci-fi novelist and said: “Now get outta here ya little shit, ya bother me.”
RIP Ray Bradbury 1920-2012
“My life has always been writing. I love libraries, I love bookstores. I love writing and I can’t stop. So until God hits me with a baseball bat, I won’t lie down.“