Harlan Ellison

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Harlan Ellison is widely regarded as one of the best speculative fiction writers of all time. Ellison demonstrated his bravery as a child by running away from home and taking on a range of odd jobs. Ellison is best known for his short stories, but he’s also authored screenplays, teleplays, comic book scripts, novellas, essays, and a wide range of criticism. He hasn’t stuck to the rules and has experimented everywhere he can, encouraging others to do the same. He’s also the editor of two groundbreaking science-fiction anthologies, for which he’s credited with encouraging contributors to write in unconventional ways. His refusal to allow his screenplays to be changed for commercial purposes caused him to drop out of a number of TV and film projects. When his works were altered, Ellison voiced his displeasure by refusing to offer his own name, instead opting for the alias ‘Cordwainer Bird.’ Ellison is adored and despised in equal measure, and he isn’t afraid to say what he thinks in the harshest of terms. However, there are no differing viewpoints on Ellison’s writings, as his enormous collection of work has entranced both fans and critics.

Childhood and Adolescence

Harlan Ellison was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Serita Ellison, a homemaker, and Louis Ellison, a dentist-turned-jewelry salesman. Harlan’s family relocated to Painesville, Ohio, where he was an outcast and endured tremendous discrimination as a Jew. After his father died, his family moved back to Cleveland. Ellison frequently ran away from home during his dramatic youth and adolescence, taking odd professions such as tuna fisherman, traveling crop-picker, bodyguard, truck driver, cook, lithographer, and book salesman, among others.

He also appeared in several plays at Cleveland’s ‘Cleveland Play House,’ a local theatre company. Ellison was a science-fiction and fantasy aficionado who contributed to the Cleveland Science-Fantasy Bulletin, an amateur publication published by the Cleveland Science-Fantasy Society. He had two pieces published in the local daily ‘Cleveland News’ in 1949 and sold a story to ‘EC Comics’ after a few years. Ellison attended Ohio State University for 18 months from 1951 to 1953 before being expelled for assaulting a creative-writing professor who had critiqued his work.

Career of Harlan Ellison

Ellison relocated to New York City in 1955 to seek a career as a writer, specializing in science fiction. Over the next few years, he published over 100 articles and short tales. Ellison intended to write about teenage gangs as soon as he arrived in New York, so he joined one surreptitiously in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn as part of his study. Harlan served as the gang’s war advisor for ten weeks, and the gang was known as ‘The Barons.’

This incident was included into Ellison’s novel ‘Web of the City/Rumble,’ the collection ‘The Deadly Streets,’ and the memoir ‘Memos from Purgatory.’ Ellison served in the United States Army from 1957 to 1959 before returning to New York. He wrote a number of pornographic pieces around this time, including ‘God Bless the Ugly Virgin’ and ‘Tramp,’ which were later reprinted in magazines.

He relocated to Chicago in 1959 to serve as the editor of ‘Rogue Magazine.’ He then became a book editor after being part in the founding of ‘Regency Books.’ He edited works by well-known authors including B. Traven, Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Bloch, and Philip Jos Farmer, among others. He relocated to California in 1962 and began his Hollywood career. He created screenplays for many TV shows, including ‘The Flying Nun,’ ‘Burke’s Law,’Route 66,’The Outer Limits,’Star Trek,’The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,’Cimarron Strip,’ and ‘The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.’

He authored a column for the ‘Los Angeles Free Press’ called ‘The Glass Teat’ in the late 1960s.  The column addressed political and social concerns that were broadcast on television.  He was hired as a writer by the well-known ‘Walt Disney Studios.’ On his first day, he was joking about about making a sexual film with Disney characters, which was overheard by CEO ‘Roy O. Disney,’ and he was fired the next day. Ellison continued to produce short writings in various venues. “Harlequin, repent!” His best-known short stories include ‘Said the Ticktockman,’ ‘I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream,’ and ‘A Boy and His Dog.’

He curated ‘Dangerous Visions,’ a collection of science-fiction short stories that included included biographies of the authors. He worked on ‘The Twilight Zone’ and ‘Babylon 5’ as a ‘Creative Consultant.’ He also provided commentary for a number of films and television series. Ellison began anchoring the ‘Hour 25’ radio show on ‘Pacifica Radio’ in Los Angeles in 1986. Harlan had previously been a regular and well-liked guest on the show. He composed a short narrative called ‘The Hour That Stretches’ based on his experience as the host.

In the 1990s, he provided commentary for the ‘Sci-Fi Channel’ program ‘Sci-Fi Buzz.’ He has contributed his voice to audiobooks by himself and other authors. In the 2012-2013 seasons of ‘Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated,’ ‘The Shrieking Madness,’ and ‘Come Undone,’ Ellison voiced his own character. In an episode of the TV show ‘The Simpsons,’ he voiced his own character once more.

Major Projects of Harlan Ellison

Many of the best science-fiction short stories have been penned by Harlan Ellison. ‘”Repent, Harlequin!”‘ Said the Ticktockman’, a satire that promotes civil disobedience against authority, and ‘I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream,’ a post-apocalyptic adventure thriller, are two of his most famous stories.

Ellison curated ‘Dangerous Visions,’ a groundbreaking anthology of science-fiction stories, and is often credited with inspiring authors to defy established science-fiction norms. Harlan Ellison’s screenplay for Star Trek: The Next Generation’s episode “The City on the Edge of Forever” is usually regarded as the best of the series’ 79 episodes, for which he received widespread acclaim.

Achievements & Awards

For his satirical short tale “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman,” Ellison earned a ‘Hugo Award’ in the ‘Best Short Fiction’ category in 1966. In 1968, he won another Hugo Award in the category of ‘Best Short Story’ for his short story ‘I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream.’ In 1969, he earned a ‘Nebula Award’ in the ‘Best Novella’ category for his work ‘A Boy and His Dog.’

For his short tale ‘The Whimper of Whipped Dogs,’ Ellison received the ‘Edgar Allan Poe Award’ in the area of ‘Best Short Story’ in 1974. In 1977, he was nominated for another ‘Nebula Award’ in the category of ‘Best Short Story’ for his story ‘Jeffty is Five,’ which follows the life of a child named ‘Jeffty’ who never gets older than the age of five. For his compilation, ‘The Essential Ellison,’ he received a ‘Bram Stoker Award’ in the area of ‘Best Collection’ in 1987.

Personal History and Legacy

Throughout his writing career, he has utilized various pseudonyms, the most well-known of which being ‘Cordwainer Bird.’ When his work has been altered without his permission, Ellison employs this pen name. Harlan Ellison has been married five times and is currently married to ‘Susan Toth.’ His marriages ended in divorce on two occasions. Ellison has no children from any of his previous marriages.

Ellison has been an outspoken supporter of civil rights. In 1965, he marched from Selma to Montgomery in the ‘Bloody Sunday March,’ a protest march in support of the ‘American civil rights movement,’ led by ‘Martin Luther King, Jr.’.

Throughout his career, Ellison has been involved in problems stemming from his vulgar and confrontational demeanor. Defamation litigation, copyright suits, personal feuds, and boycotting any work that does not allow him artistic freedom are just a few of the challenges he is dealing with.

Estimated Net Worth

Harlan Ellison was an American writer who was born in Cleveland, Ohio on May 27, 1934. Harlan Ellison has a $10 million dollar net worth. Serita and Louise Laverne Ellison had a son named Harlan Ellison. He worked as an actor in various Cleveland Play House performances when he was younger.


This well-known science-fiction author was kicked out of ‘Ohio State University’ after striking a professor who had critiqued his work. Over the next 40 years, the writer submitted a copy of every tale he published to that professor.