For the British Olympic fencer, see Charles de Beaumont.
|Born||Charles Leroy Nutt|
(1929-01-02)January 2, 1929
|Died||February 21, 1967(1967-02-21) (aged 38)|
Woodland Hills, California
|Genre||speculative fiction, science fiction, horror fiction, social commentary, popular culture, short story, television, film, essay|
|Notable works||The Twilight Zone (various episodes)|
|Children||2 daughters, 2 sons|
Charles Beaumont (January 2, 1929 – February 21, 1967) was an American author of speculative fiction, including short stories in the horror and science fiction subgenres. He is remembered as a writer of classic Twilight Zone episodes, such as "The Howling Man", "Miniature", "Printer's Devil", and "Number Twelve Looks Just Like You", but also penned the screenplays for several films, among them 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, The Intruder and The Masque of the Red Death. Novelist Dean R. Koontz has said, "Charles Beaumont was one of the seminal influences on writers of the fantastic and macabre." Beaumont is also the subject of a documentary, Charles Beaumont: The Short Life of Twilight Zone's Magic Man, by Jason V Brock.
Life and work
Beaumont was born Charles Leroy Nutt in Chicago, the only child of Charles H. Nutt (an auditor of freight accounts for a railroad) and Letty Nutt, a homemaker who had been a scenarist at Essanay Studios. His father was 55 when Charles was born; Letty, his mother, was nearly 20 years her husband's junior. Letty is known to have dressed young Charles in girls' clothes, and once threatened to kill his dog to punish him. These early experiences inspired the celebrated short story "Miss Gentilbelle", but according to Beaumont, "Football, baseball and dimestore cookie thefts filled my early world."
School did not hold his attention, and his last name exposed him to ridicule, so Charles Nutt found solace as a teenager in science fiction. He dropped out of high school in tenth grade to join the army. He also worked as a cartoonist, illustrator, disc jockey, usher and dishwasher before selling his first story to Amazing Stories in 1950. During his time as an illustrator he briefly used the pseudonyms Charles McNutt (circa 1947/48) and E.T. Beaumont (inspired by the city of Beaumont, located in East Texas), before settling on the name Charles Beaumont from a character in Broadway. He soon adopted this name legally, and used it both personally and professionally for the rest of his life.
In 1954, Playboy magazine selected his story "Black Country" to be the first work of short fiction to appear in its pages. It was also at about this time that Beaumont started writing for television and film.
Beaumont was energetic and spontaneous, and was known to take trips (sometimes out of the country) at a moment's notice. An avid racing fan, he often enjoyed participating in or watching area speedway races, with other authors tagging along.
His cautionary fables include "The Beautiful People" (1952), about a rebellious adolescent girl in a future conformist society in which people are obligated to alter their physical appearance (adapted as an episode of Twilight Zone, "Number 12 Looks Just Like You"), and "Free Dirt" (1955), about a man who gorges on his entire vegetable harvest and dies from having consumed the magical soil he used to grow it.
His short story "The Crooked Man" (also published by Playboy, in 1955) presents a dystopian future wherein heterosexuality is stigmatized in the same way that homosexuality then was, with heterosexual people living furtively like pre-Stonewall gay and lesbian people. In the story, a heterosexual man meets his lover in a gay orgy bar; they try to have sex in a curtained booth (she dressed in male drag) and are caught.
Beaumont wrote several scripts for The Twilight Zone, including an adaptation of his own short story, "The Howling Man", about a prisoner who might be the Devil, and the hour-long "Valley of the Shadow", about a cloistered Utopia that refuses to share its startlingly advanced technology with the outside world.
Beaumont scripted the film Queen of Outer Space from an outline by Ben Hecht, deliberately writing the screenplay as a parody. According to Beaumont, the directorial style is not informed by his satiric intent. He penned one episode of the Steve Canyon TV show, "Operation B-52", in which Canyon and his crew attempt to set a new speed record in a B-52 accompanied by a newsman who hates Air Force pilots.
Beaumont was much admired by the well-known colleagues who outlived him (Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Richard Matheson, Robert Bloch, Roger Corman), and his work is currently in the process of being rediscovered. Many of his stories have been re-released in the posthumous volumes Best of Beaumont (Bantam, 1982) and The Howling Man (Tom Doherty, 1992), and a set of previously unpublished tales, A Touch of the Creature (Subterranean Press, 1999) is now available. In 2004, Gauntlet Press released the first of two volumes collecting Beaumont's Twilight Zone scripts.
Illness and death
In 1963, when Beaumont was 34 and overwhelmed by numerous writing commitments, he began to suffer the effects of what has been called "a mysterious brain disease". He began to age rapidly. His speech slowed and his ability to concentrate diminished.
"He was rarely well," his friend and colleague William F. Nolan would later recall. "He was almost always thin, and with a headache. He used Bromo-Seltzer like most people use water. He had a big Bromo bottle with him all the time." The disease also affected his work. "He could barely sell stories, much less write. He would go unshaven to meetings with producers, which would end in disaster. [A script writer has] got to be able to think on your feet, which Chuck couldn't do anymore; and so the producers would just go, 'We're sorry, Mr. Beaumont, but we don't like the script.'"
The condition might have been related to the spinal meningitis he suffered as a child. His friend and early agent Forrest J Ackerman has asserted an alternative, that Beaumont suffered simultaneously from Alzheimer's disease and Pick's disease. This claim was supported by the UCLA Medical Staff, who subjected Beaumont to a battery of tests in the mid-1960s that indicated that it might be either Alzheimer's or Pick's. Nolan recalls that the UCLA doctors sent Beaumont home: "There's absolutely no treatment for this disease. It's permanent and it's terminal. He'll probably live from six months to three years with it. He'll decline and get to where he can't stand up. He won't feel any pain. In fact, he won't even know this is happening." Nolan summed up what happened: "Like his character 'Walter Jameson,' Chuck just dusted away."
Several fellow writers, including Nolan and friend Jerry Sohl, began ghostwriting for Beaumont during 1963/64, so that he could meet his many writing obligations. Privately, he insisted on splitting these fees. By 1965, however, Beaumont was too ill to even create or sell story ideas. His last on-screen writing credit was for the 1965 film Mister Moses, officially a screenplay written with (but more likely written by) Monja Danischewsky.
Charles Beaumont died in Woodland Hills, California at the age of 38. His son Christopher later said that "he looked ninety-five and was, in fact, ninety-five by every calendar except the one on your watch." Beaumont's last residence was in nearby Valley Village, California. He was survived by his wife Helen, two sons and two daughters. One son, Greg, worked in sound on television and was nominated for a Grammy. Greg passed away from colon cancer at the age of 34. The other, Christopher, is a writer.
Twilight Zone credits
The following is a list of episodes Beaumont penned for The Twilight Zone (an asterisk indicates that the episode was credited to Beaumont, but ghostwritten by Jerry Sohl).
- “The Devil, You Say?” (Jan 1951, Amazing Stories, adapted for Twilight Zone)
- “The Beautiful People” (Sep 1952, If, adapted for Twilight Zone)
- “Fritzchen” (1953, Orbit #1)
- “Place of Meeting” (1953, Orbit #2)
- “Elegy” (Feb 1953, Imagination, adapted for Twilight Zone)
- “The Last Caper” (Mar 1954, F&SF)
- “Keeper of the Dream” (1954, Time to Come)
- “Mass for Mixed Voices” (May 1954, Science Fiction Quarterly)
- “Hair of the Dog” (Jul 1954, Orbit #3)
- “The Quadriopticon” (Aug 1954, F&SF)
- “Black Country” (Sep 1954, Playboy)
- “The Jungle” (Dec 1954, If, adapted for Twilight Zone)
- “The Murderers” (Feb 1955, Esquire)
- “The Hunger” (Apr 1955, Playboy)
- “The Last Word” (with Chad Oliver, Apr 1955, F&SF)
- “Free Dirt” (May 1955, F&SF)
- “The New Sound” (Jun 1955, F&SF)
- “The Crooked Man” (Aug 1955, Playboy)
- “The Vanishing American” (Aug 1955, F&SF)
- “Last Rites” (Oct 1955, If)
- “A Point of Honor” / “I’ll Do Anything” (Nov 1955, Manhunt)
- “A Classic Affair” (Dec 1955, Playboy)
- “Traumerei” (Feb 1956, Infinity Science Fiction)
- “The Monster Show” (May 1956, Playboy)
- “The Guests of Chance” (with Chad Oliver, Jun 1956, Infinity Science Fiction)
- “You Can’t Have Them All” (Aug 1956, Playboy)
- “Last Night in the Rain” / “Sin Tower” (Oct 1956, Nugget)
- “The Dark Music” (Dec 1956, Playboy)
- “Oh Father of Mine” / “Father, Dear Father” (Jan 1957, Venture)
- “The Love-Master” (Feb 1957, Rogue)
- “The Man Who Made Himself” / “In His Image” (Feb 1957, Imagination, adapted for Twilight Zone)
- “Night Ride” (Mar 1957, Playboy)
- “The Customers” (Apr 1957, “The Hunger and Other Stories”)
- “Fair Lady” (Apr 1957, “The Hunger and Other Stories”)
- “The Infernal Bouillabaisse” (Apr 1957, “The Hunger and Other Stories”)
- “Miss Gentilbelle” (Apr 1957, “The Hunger and Other Stories”)
- “Nursery Rhyme” (Apr 1957, “The Hunger and Other Stories”)
- “Open House” (Apr 1957, “The Hunger and Other Stories”)
- “Tears of the Madonna” (Apr 1957, “The Hunger and Other Stories”)
- “The Train” (Apr 1957, “The Hunger and Other Stories”)
- “A Death in the Country” / “The Deadly Will Win” (Nov 1957, Playboy)
- “Anthem” (Apr 1958, “Yonder”)
- “Mother’s Day” (Apr 1958, “Yonder”)
- “A World of Differents” (Apr 1958, “Yonder”)
- “The New People” (Aug 1958, Rogue)
- “Perchance to Dream” (Oct 1958, Playboy, adapted for Twilight Zone)
- “The Intruder” (1959, excerpt of chapter ten of the novel)
- “The Music of the Yellow Brass” (Jan 1959, Playboy)
- “The Trigger” (Jan 1959, Mystery Digest)
- “Sorcerer’s Moon” (Jul 1959, Playboy)
- “The Howling Man” (Nov 1959, Rogue, adapted for Twilight Zone)
- “Buck Fever” (Mar 1960, “Night Ride and Other Journeys”)
- “The Magic Man” (Mar 1960, “Night Ride and Other Journeys”)
- “The Neighbors” (Mar 1960, “Night Ride and Other Journeys”)
- “Song For a Lady” (Mar 1960, “Night Ride and Other Journeys”, adapted for Twilight Zone)
- “Gentlemen, Be Seated” (Apr 1960, Rogue, adapted for The Twilight Zone as a radio drama)
- “Three Thirds of a Ghost” / “The Baron’s Secret” (Aug 1960, Nugget)
- “Blood Brother” (Apr 1961, Playboy)
- “Mourning Song” (1963, Gamma #1)
- “Something in the Earth” (1963, Gamma #2)
- "Auto Suggestion" (1965, Gamma #5)
- "Insomnia Vobiscum" (1982, "Best of Beaumont")
- “My Grandmother’s Japonicas” (1984, Masques #1)
- “Appointment with Eddie” (1987, “The Howling Man”)
- “The Carnival” (1987, “The Howling Man”)
- “The Crime of Willie Washington” (1987, “The Howling Man”)
- “The Man with the Crooked Nose” (1987, “The Howling Man”)
- “To Hell with Claude” (with Chad Oliver, 1987, “The Howling Man”)
- “The Wages of Cynicism” (1999)
- “Adam’s Off Ox” (2000, “A Touch of the Creature”)
- “Fallen Star” (2000, “A Touch of the Creature”)
- “A Friend of the Family” (2000, “A Touch of the Creature”)
- “The Indian Piper” (2000, “A Touch of the Creature”)
- “The Junemoon Spoon” (2000, “A Touch of the Creature”)
- “Lachrymosa” (2000, “A Touch of the Creature”)
- “A Long Way from Capri” (2000, “A Touch of the Creature”)
- “Moon in Gemini” (2000, “A Touch of the Creature”)
- “Mr. Underhill” (2000, “A Touch of the Creature”)
- “The Pool” (2000, “A Touch of the Creature”)
- “Resurrection Island” (2000, “A Touch of the Creature”)
- “The Rival” (2000, “A Touch of the Creature”)
- “Time and Again” (2000, “A Touch of the Creature”)
- “With the Family” (2000, “A Touch of the Creature”)
- “I, Claude” (with Chad Oliver)
- “The Rest of Science Fiction” (with Chad Oliver)
Short story collections
Anthologies of short fiction
- The Magic Man (1965) – nine from Hunger, three from Yonder, six from Night Ride
- The Edge (1966) – three from Yonder, eight from Night Ride
- Best of Beaumont (Nov 1982) – four from Hunger, eight from Yonder, six from Night Ride, four never before anthologized
- Selected Stories (1988) – nine from Hunger, three from Yonder, eight from Night Ride, one from Best, eight never before anthologized
- The Howling Man (1992) – reprint of Selected Stories
- A Touch of the Creature (2000) – fourteen previously unpublished/unfinished stories
- Perchance to Dream (2015)
- Run from the Hunter (1957, as Keith Grantland, w/ John E. Tomerlin)
- The Intruder (1959)
- Remember? Remember? (1956, essays on American pop culture between the world wars)
- Omnibus of Speed: An Introduction to the World of Motorsport (1958, with William F. Nolan)
- The Mystery of Whalers' Cove Mickey Mouse #43 (1955) [w/ William F. Nolan]
- The Mystery of Diamond Mountain Mickey Mouse #47 (1956) [w/ William F. Nolan]
- ^ abcdStefan R. Dziemianowicz, "Beaumont, Charles" in David Pringle, ed., St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers. London: St. James Press, 1998. (pp. 37-39). ISBN 1558622063
- ^ abcdefProsser, Harold Lee (1996). Running from the Hunter: The Life and Works of Charles Beaumont. Wildside Press. pp. 5–6. ISBN 9780893702915.
- ^Dangerfield, Katie (2017-09-28). "How a controversial sci-fi story put Hugh Hefner on the map for human rights". Global News. Retrieved 2017-10-15.
- ^ abcdeZicree, Marc Scott (1982). The Twilight Zone Companion. Toronto; New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-01416-1. OCLC 9022567.
Mr. Martin, and dozens of others like him, have a particular combination of cooking skills, ventriloquism and modesty that makes it possible not only to write in the voices of chefs, but to actually channel them as cooks.
“It’s like an out-of-body experience,” Mr. Martin said. “I know who I am as a chef, and I know who Rachael is, and those are two totally separate parts of my brain.”
Employing writers and recipe developers has long been routine; chefs, after all, have their own specialized skills, and writers are not expected to be wizards in the kitchen.
Ghostwriting is common among business leaders, sports figures and celebrities. But the domesticity and intimacy of cooking make readers want to believe that the food they make has been personally created and tested — or at least tasted — by the face on the cover. And that isn’t always the case, especially for restaurant chefs.
Food ghostwriters come in many different flavors, including the researchers who might spend days testing every possible method of cooking beans for Bobby Flay, the aproned assistants at the Food Network who frantically document everything that the “talent” does on camera in order to produce recipes for the Web site, and the (slightly) more literary work of writers who attempt to document a chef’s ideas, memories and vision in glossy cookbooks.
The rank beginners might be thanked in the acknowledgments of a book; the next step is being credited on the title page; at the very top of the profession, their names appear on the book’s cover. But getting up that pole can be a slippery business.
In the 1990s, when I was in the trenches, American chefs were not the thoughtful liberal-arts graduates who permeate the profession today. The idea that a chef would start an avant-garde literary food magazine, as David Chang did last year; create his own imprint at a publishing house, as Anthony Bourdain did; or appear on “Charlie Rose,” as Sean Brock of the restaurants Husk and McCrady’s in Charleston, S.C., did last week, would have been laughable.
Many were brilliant and creative, and all were incredibly hardworking. But usually, nothing of the chef’s oeuvre had been written down except perhaps a master recipe for stock, designed for a trained kitchen staff and made in 40-gallon quantities.
Still, it did not matter if the chefs had no story to tell about why and what they were cooking: every last one of them wanted to publish a cookbook.
Andrew Friedman, who is currently writing with the chefs Michael White and Paul Liebrandt, said: “I’ve had chefs tear up reading the introduction to their own books. The job is to get them to the point where they verbalize their philosophy about food — even the ones who say they don’t have one.”
Years ago, there was a quaint trust among cookbook buyers that chefs personally wrote their books and tested their recipes, and a corresponding belief among chefs that to admit otherwise would mean giving someone else credit for the tiniest part of their work — unacceptable, in those macho and territorial times.
Today, in a content-driven media environment, the role of the writer is given far more respect, and many chefs do not pretend that they do their own writing. Last week, when Grand Central Publishing announced the acquisition of a big new cookbook by Daniel Boulud, the name of his “collaborator,” Sylvie Bigar, was featured in the news release.
In most cases, the job of a ghostwriter is to produce a credible book from the thin air of a chef’s mind and menu — to cajole and probe, to elicit ideas and anecdotes by any means necessary.
J. J. Goode, who wrote the just-released “A Girl and Her Pig” with April Bloomfield, describes the process as “25 percent writing and 75 percent dating.”
And although each project begins as a love affair, it rarely ends that way; disillusion is part of the job.
“In every book, there’s a point where you just can’t stand the sight of each other,” a veteran writer said.
In his first assignment, another writer I know had to produce a book on Japanese cuisine based on two interviews with a chef who spoke no English.
“That,” he said, “was the moment that I realized cookbooks were not authoritative.”
“Write up something about all the kinds of chiles,” one Mexican-American chef demanded of me, providing no further details. “There should be a really solid guide to poultry,” a barbecue maven prescribed for his own forthcoming book. (After much stalling, he sent the writer a link to the Wikipedia page for “chicken.”)
At the most extreme level, a few highly paid ghostwriter-cooks actually produce entire books, from soup to nuts, using a kind of mind-meld that makes it possible not only to write in the voice of another human but actually to cook in his or her style — or close enough. One recent best-selling tome on regional cooking was produced entirely in a New York apartment kitchen, with almost no input from the author.
“Those are the cases where you are pretty sure the chef never even reads the book,” the writer said. Another ghost told me that sometimes the only direct input he gets for one chef’s books is a list of flavor combinations.
(The authors most likely to write and thoroughly test their own work are trained cooks who do not work in restaurants, like Molly Stevens, Deborah Madison and Grace Young, and obsessive hobbyist cooks like Jennifer McLagan and Barbara Kafka.)
Some chefs have great respect for the work of a writer.
“It’s not easy to find a good one,” said Mr. Flay, a chef who has worked with many writers, including me. “They have to put their ego in their pockets.”
“I consider myself an ‘author,’ in quotes, but not a writer,” Mr. Flay said. “I have skills in the kitchen, but the writers keep the project on track, meet the deadlines, make the editor happy.”
He added: “I know a lot of chefs who write their first book themselves. Then they say ‘I’ll never do that again.’ It’s just not worth it.”
But for other chefs, a writer-for-hire has about the same status as a personal trainer; the relationship is friendly but not always mutually respectful. I was frequently stood up, always kept waiting and once took dictation in a spa while the chef received a pedicure.
My previous job, in the genteel precincts of cookbook publishing, had prepared me for part of ghosting: bundling the voice, knowledge and vision of a chef between the covers of a book.
But I was unprepared for the chaotic reality of the job: the natural enemies, like paranoid restaurant owners who blocked me from kitchen meetings; resentful assistants, often offended at being deemed insufficiently literate for the job; chefs’ wives, who were generally not delighted by the sudden appearance of a young woman whose job it was to find their husbands fascinating and drink in their every word.
There is the uncomfortable fact that wherever you stand in a restaurant kitchen, trying to shrink into a fly on the wall, you are always in the way of someone with a more important job to do. There are impossible deadlines, hours of waiting around for tardy chefs and off-the-map assignments, like the two days I spent under armed guard in a walled compound in Bogotá, while the chef I was working with disappeared into the Colombian countryside. During those two days, with no cellphone or e-mail and only a Dora-the-Explorer ability to communicate in Spanish, I was essentially a prisoner, with plenty of time to think about my next career.
And although that was the scariest moment, it was not the lowest. That might have been the time a chef took my name off the cover of our book because, he explained, it would hurt his wife’s feelings.
There was also one rising culinary star, soft-spoken but elusive, whom I prodded into producing a book with me. Flushed with gratitude, he insisted on cooking at my forthcoming wedding, promised a space inside a New York City landmark and then — quite soon after the invitations had gone out — stopped answering the phone, forever.
Another young chef came to my rescue and catered the wedding. I then spent six months writing a proposal for his book — until he signed with the most notorious bullying book agent in the industry, who told me that a writer should be so honored to work on this project that money would not be a factor.
Because cookbook ghostwriting brings low pay, nonexistent royalties (most writers are paid a flat fee, or a percentage of the advance doled out by the publisher) and only a few perks, most ghosts don’t last long. When a ghosted book is successful, watching someone else get credit for your work is demoralizing. And when books do not sell, which is usually the case, it is tiresome to play and then repeat the roles required: muse, publicist and interpreter.
But it can also be a gateway to better things. Julia Turshen, who is writing a second cookbook with Gwyneth Paltrow after their collaboration on “My Father’s Daughter,” began as the ghostwriter for the ghostwriter on a book by Mario Batali, tagging along with a notebook as the chef filmed a culinary romp through Spain.
“The guy I was reporting for ended up off the project, and that’s how I got started,” she said. Ms. Turshen, like many younger ghosts, is generally thrilled to be paid for the combination of writing and cooking.
Oddly, one of the best qualifications for the job is ignorance: the tricky steps and specialized skills that a chef will teach the ghostwriter as they work together are the same ones the writer will have to teach to a home cook in the text of the book. The best ghosts are the ones who anticipate the reader’s questions.
“It actually helps to be an idiot,” Ms. Turshen said. “A hungry one.”Continue reading the main story