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Ray Bradbury's biographer: FBI spied on the author's kids

Author Ray Bradbury takes a break from signing his new book
Author Ray Bradbury takes a break from signing his new book "Quicker Than The Eye", Wednesday, Jan. 29, 1997 in Cupertino, Calif.
Steve Castillo/AP
Author Ray Bradbury takes a break from signing his new book
This Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015, photo, shows a house being demolished that science fiction writer Ray Bradbury lived in, in the Cheviot Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. It was the house where Bradbury wrote "Something Wicked This Way Comes," and when the bulldozer came to knock it down literary scholars and preservationists were aghast. The bright yellow home with the big bay windows where the author lived and worked for 54 years wasn't the first Los Angeles landmark to be flattened of course. The statuesque Ambassador Hotel, where Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, is now the site of a public-school complex.
Nick Ut/AP
Author Ray Bradbury takes a break from signing his new book
Ray Bradbury's star on the Walk of Fame.
Vince Bucci/Getty Images

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Ray Bradbury's biographer, Sam Weller, says he was shocked by the FBI's incompetence and perfidy.

First, they got Bradbury's name wrong in their documents, consistently calling him "Raymond," when his given name was "Ray." And the FBI reported that Bradbury made repeated trips to Cuba, when he never went there in his life.

But the Red File, which Weller obtained through a Freedom of Information Request, also shows that FBI agents were parking their cars at night on Bradbury's street in Cheviot Hills, watching his children.

Bradbury, Weller says, "was quite startled by that. He was a pack rat, so he took that file out of my hand immediately and said, 'Mine! Mine!' He wanted to keep it."

Weller speaks Monday at the Central Library and promises to share Bradbury documents, photos, and letters the public has never seen before, including the Red File but also some of Bradbury's huge collection of celebrity photos. "He arrived in Hollywood (from Illinois) in April of 1934," Weller says, "and when he got there, he was this devotee of cinema, and he stalked the celebrities." So there are photos of Bradbury with George Burns, Marlene Dietrich, and Ida Lupino, among others.

And the movies affected his books. "I argue that Ray Bradbury is the first great literary writer to have his sense of narrative shaped by cinema. He was born in 1920, he started seeing movies when he was 3 years old, and they were vital to his sense of imagination."

Sam Weller is the author of "The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury," and "Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews." Weller will be lecturing on Bradbury Monday, June 15, at noon, in Meeting Room A of the LA Public Library.