- Birth nameHarlan Jay Ellison
- Height5′ 2½″ (1.59 m)
- Author Harlan Ellison was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Serita (Rosenthal) and Louis Laverne Ellison. He had an older sister, Beverly. Harlan was married five times. He lived in Sherman Oaks at "Ellison Wonderland". He had the same address and phone number for decades, was a teetotaler, and never used drugs.- IMDb Mini Biography By: C. Riddle
- SpousesSusan Anne Toth(September 7, 1986 - June 27, 2018) (his death)Lori Horowitz(1976 - 1977)Loretta (Basham) Patrick(1966 - 1966)Billie Joyce Sanders(1960 - 1963) (divorced)Charlotte B. Stein(1956 - March 1960) (divorced)
- Outspoken abrasive personality
- Speculative fiction themes, usually involving cyborgs and machines
- Frequently works with Walter Koenig (Memo from Purgatory (1964), two episodes on The Starlost (1973) and several episodes on Babylon 5 (1993)). Harlan even based one of his stories, "Jeffty Is Five", on a misheard comment about Walter's son, Jeff.
- Ellison uses the pseudonym "Cordwainer Bird" for works where he considers that the producers have so tampered with the integrity of his original story that he wants the whole world to know it. Hence, if you see something credited to "Cordwainer Bird", you know that Ellison is so angry at his treatment that he's going to force the producers to publicly acknowledge the fact (via the credits) that he considers them rather worse than fools. It is also a reference to the great science-fiction writer Cordwainer Smith. "Cordwainer Smith", in turn, was the pseudonym of Dr. Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger (1913-66), a professor of Asiatic politics, expert on psychological warfare and advisor to President John F. Kennedy. Harlan has used this pseudonym for an episode of the "Flying Nun" and "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" as well as the entire series of "The Starlost".
- He was famous for not suffering fools gladly and for his outspoken nature, which has led to more than his share of high-profile feuds. The most famous was with Star Trek: The Original Series (1966) creator Gene Roddenberry, who had Ellison's famous television script (The City on the Edge of Forever (1967)) rewritten to fit with Roddenberry's vision. Roddenberry would not allow him to put his pseudonym "Cordwainer Bird" on the project. To add insult to injury, for the rest of his life Roddenberry took credit for having "saved" the story, which is consistently ranked as the best of the series by critics and fans and as one of TV's 100 greatest moments by "TV Guide" (July 1, 1995).
- In his book "Stalking the Nightmare", he recounts an incident that led to his being fired from Walt Disney Productions on his first day of work. At lunch in the studio commissary, he jokingly told fellow writers that they should "do a Disney porn flick", and proceeded to act out parts in the voices of various Disney characters, unaware that animation head Roy Edward Disney and other studio chiefs were sitting nearby. Ellison claims that when he returned to his office, he found a termination letter on his desk, and his name on his parking space had been painted over.
- When he first took a writing course, his teacher told him he was terrible and should give up writing. When he became successful, he sent the teacher a copy of every good review his work ever got.
- Following a lawsuit, his name was added to the credits of the movie The Terminator (1984). He claimed that the time travel and indestructible robot components in the movie were ripped off by James Cameron and never credited to him. Cameron, in turn, denies having ever been influenced by Ellison's work. However, Cameron's producers said that if he would lose the lawsuit, he himself would be responsible for the financial losses, giving Cameron no other choice than to begrudgingly settle the case out of court.
- Stephen King, in "Danse Macabre" describes the scene in the pitching sessions for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) where an executive kept rejecting ideas, saying, "No, we've got to think big!" Ellison tired of this and said, "How about this? The Enterprise travels light years out of the galaxy, breaks through the wall of the Universe, and there in front of them is the massive face of God. How's that?" The executive fidgeted for a moment then said, "No, that's still not big enough. We need an idea that's big." Ellison said, "Screw this. I'm a scenarist. I don't know what the hell you are".
- [his feelings about the term "science-fiction"] Call me a "science-fiction" writer and I'll come to your house and nail your pet's head to the table.
- For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered.
- [on working in Hollywood] This town is filled with weasels and wormers and people who will stab you in the front if they can't reach your back.
- [in 1980] There are fewer and fewer people reading today. Clearly. Obviously. Statistics prove it, and historically what we're doing is we're programming ourselves right into an illiterate no-no land. It's going to be crazier and crazier in this country as the years go by and it shows up in every kind of way.
- We're becoming sytematically driven into the ground. Bad taste becomes the order of the day, and people who object to it, schumcks like me, are suddenly spoilsports.
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