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Charles Beaumont

Charles Beaumont (January 2, 1929February 21, 1967) was a prolific U.S. author of speculative fiction and horror short stories, beginning in 1951. He frequently wrote for The Twilight Zone TV series, as well as the screenplay for 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, The Intruder and The Masque of the Red Death.

Life and work

Beaumont was born in Chicago as Charles Leroy Nutt to an abusive mother who frequently dressed him in girls' clothes and once killed one of his pets as punishment. He found solace in science fiction in his teens and dropped out of high school in tenth grade to join the army. He also worked as an illustrator, disc jockey, usher and dishwasher before selling his first story to Amazing Stories in 1950. In 1954, he sold a story to Playboy Magazine and also started writing for television.

Beaumont was an outgoing, spontaneous person, prone to taking trips out of the country at a moment's notice. An avid racing fan, he would often enjoy participating in or watching area speedway races with other authors tagging along.

Beaumont wrote the scripts for some of the Twilight Zone series' most memorable episodes, including an adaptation of his own short story, "The Howling Man", the filming of which starred John Carradine. Playboy published his short story, "The Crooked Man", an early (1955) portrayal of homosexuality in speculative fiction. He famously scripted the Queen of Outer Space from an outline by Ben Hecht, deliberately writing the screenplay as a parody.

Posthumously much admired and appreciated by colleagues such as Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison, his work has been rediscovered in recent years with three collections of short stories published: Best of Beaumont (Bantam, 1982), Charles Beaumont: Selected Stories (Dark Harvest, 1988) and A Touch of the Creature (Subterranean Press, 1999). In 2004, Gauntlet Press released the first of what will be two volumes collecting Beaumont's Twilight Zone scripts.

Illness and death

When Beaumont was 34 and overwhelmed by numerous writing commitments, he began to suffer the effects of a mysterious brain disease. His speech began to get slower, he seemed to age much faster than normal and his ability to concentrate and be creative quickly disappeared.. While perhaps Alzheimer's disease or Pick's disease, as commonly assumed, the disease may have been related to the meningitis he'd suffered as a child.

"He was never well," his friend and colleague William F. Nolan would later recall.. "He was always thin. He almost always had a headache. He used Bromo-Seltzer like somebody would use water." George Clayton Johnson, his friend and fellow Twilight Zone writer, noted in his Archive of American Television interview that Beaumont's physical ailments stemmed from an extremely lengthy addiction to Bromo Seltzer.

Many of his friends and fellow writers, including Nolan and Jerry Sohl, took to ghostwriting for Beaumont so that he could fulfill his many writing commissions, despite his illness. Privately, he insisted on splitting his fees with those authors who wrote the pieces for him. He died in Woodland Hills, California at the age of 38. Beaumont's last residence was in nearby Valley Village, California.

Twilight Zone Credits

The following is a list of episodes Beaumont had written for The Twilight Zone. The ones marked with an asterisk (*) are ghostwritten by Jerry Sohl.

Further reading

External links


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