"Last week I turned 82. 82! When I look in the mirror, the person staring back at me is a young boy, with a head and heart filled with dreams and excitement and unquenchable enthusiam for life. Sure, he's got white hair--so what!"
-- Ray Bradbury, August 29, 2002
Green Town, Illinois is a mythical place in a Ray Bradbury novel only in the same way that Shermer, Illinois is a fictional suburb in a John Hughes movie. Green Town, Illinois can be visited today. It is called Waukegan. Shermer can also be found. In real life it's called Northbrook.
Ray Bradbury was born in Green Town, make that Waukegan, on August 22, 1920. From Waukegan to Mars and other worlds is a very long trip covering 86 years so far, but Ray is still excited about the journey.
But back on Earth in Illinois, the Green Town of legend and folklore is most vividly recalled in the magical childhood summers of 1928 and 1929--the last summers of the properous Roaring Twenties. That is before the stock market crash of October 1929 and before America turned into a cold, jobless, and hungry place for too many families.
Green Town is the idyllic small American town that is the backdrop for Ray Bradbury's autobiographical novel called Dandelion Wine. Dandelion Wine contained only a small plot device from the world of science fiction but it was one of three books planned for The Green Town Trilogy of stories to be set in Waukegan. Two have been published in full and one chapter of the third has been published.
Ray Bradbury is one of the most interesting science fiction authors of the last century. No one in Waukegan knew then that the fertile imagination of a young boy would one day bring readers adventures such as The Martian Chronicles (1950), Farenheit 451 (1953), Dandelion Wine (1957), Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962), The Halloween Tree (1972), and I Sing the Body Electric.
Ray only lived in Waukegan off and on for his first fourteen years with temporary moves to Arizona thrown into the mix of his childhood. The family moved to Los Angeles during the Depression and Ray went to high school there. But a fan cannot read an interview with Ray or Dandelion Wine and not understand that Ray will always regard Waukegan, Illinois as his hometown and that his Waukegan years as a youth were the best years of his life.
In 2003, Ray lost his wonderful wife of 56 years, Maggie McClure Bradbury, whose family founded McClure's Magazine. She was working in a book store in L.A. in 1946 when she met Ray.
In 2004, Ray Bradbury engaged in a dust up of legal letters back and forth with independent film producer Michael Moore who borrowed part of the title from one of Ray's most famous books and movies for the title of Moore's film critical of President Bush called "Farenheit 9-11."
Bradbury did not say if his political views were offended by Moore, only that he thought Moore was being deceptive to use a title so similar that it could be confused with a famous film Farenheit 451 from 1966 starring Oskar Werner and Julie Christie and directed by Francois Truffaut. That movie was based on Ray's 1953 book with the same title. Moore said he was trying to pay a tribute to Bradbury. Bradbury did not take it as a compliment. Ray had a legitimate stake in protecting the name of his book and film from confusion with Moore's film since the original Farenheit 451 is being re-made for release in 2007.
Last month in August 2006, Ray Bradbury celebrated his 86th birthday. His incurable optimism for space travel is still with him and he predicted humans will return to the moon and to Mars and to "other worlds."
"Our future is wonderful," he told Patt Morrison in an interview on KPCC, a Pasadena, California-based public radio station on Aug. 22, 2006.
For a list of movie and TV projects written by Ray Bradbury or based on his books, see the Ray Bradbury page on the Internet Movie Database.