A Night With Ray, Hef and Buzz: The Fahrenheit 451 Screening

Ray Bradbury celebrates his birthday with a little help from his friend, Hugh Hefner.

It’s not every day you see Mr. Playboy, the real-life Buzz Lightyear, and the greatest living science fiction author together in the same room.

It’s Ray Bradbury Week in Los Angeles, because one day just wouldn’t be enough to celebrate such a prolific author. A resolution by the city council made it official, thanks to the efforts of novelist and screenwriter Steven Paul Leiva, who organized the week’s festivities.

I was fortunate enough to attend a special screening of the 1966 film by Francois Truffaut of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, which also featured a conversation with Ray and Hugh Hefner, moderated by Geoff Boucher of the L.A. Times Hero Complex blog.

A year ago, when Bradbury was about to turn 89, Leiva wrote a column called “Searching For Ray Bradbury” that became the spark that lit the fire for celebrating Bradbury’s 90th in a fashion befitting the author’s stature.

Chatting onstage before the film, Hef recounted when Playboy magazine was just starting out how he contacted Bradbury about publishing Fahrenheit 451 in serial form. The novel ran in the magazine’s 3rd, 4th and 5th issues.

Hugh Hefner, Geoff Boucher and Ray Bradbury admire artwork created by Lou Romano in honor of the Bradbury's 90th birthday, held by Richard Stayton of Written By magazine.

Other luminaries were also in attendance to pay their birthday respects to Bradbury, including the co-director of The Lion King, Roger Allers, and astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

Check out the interview clips for Bradbury and Hefner’s comments about the genesis of Fahrenheit 451 and its publication in Playboy, plus Bradbury’s thoughts on how much he still loves writing every day (a new collection of stories, called “Juggernaut,” is set for publication by Christmas). Mr. Electrico touched young Ray Bradbury with his wand, making his hair stand on end, and yelled out "Live Forever!"

In closing, I’ll echo a carnival sideshow act called Mr. Electrico, who told Ray when he was just a boy, “Live Forever!”

Hugh Hefner and Ray Bradbury prior to the movie "Fahrenheit 451" (photo via Steven Paul Leiva's Ray Bradbury Week page on Facebook).

Buzz Aldrin with Ray Bradbury (and the back of some guy's head).

Life is good: Ray Bradbury gets bussed by a couple of Hef's bunnies.

“Libraries are more important than colleges or universities, because libraries are free. The important thing is knowledge should be free.” — Ray Bradbury

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2 responses to “A Night With Ray, Hef and Buzz: The Fahrenheit 451 Screening

  1. Great to see these pictures! One note: Dr. Edwin Aldrin did, some years ago, change his name legally to Buzz Aldrin. It’s no longer a nickname.

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