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Charles Beaumont: The Short Life of Twilight Zone’s Magic Man

Not long ago I was given the opportunity by JaSunni Productions to watch a review/screener copy of the new documentary Charles Beaumont: The Short Life of Twilight Zone‘s Magic Man. The film tells the story of Beaumont who was a part of an elite group of science fiction writers that helped put the genre on the map, and who made possible the plethora of science fiction stories, books, television programs, and films fans often take for granted. This documentary describes the life of a brilliant and gifted writer who, like many of his contemporaries and colleagues, including Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Harlan Ellison, and Robert Bloch, struggled initially to survive financially as a writer, but who persevered until receiving due recognition. For Beaumont his first break came through the publication of one of his stories in Playboy magazine. He would later go on to write for television and film including some of the best known and loved Twilight Zone episodes (writing 22 in all), The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, One Step Beyond, Thriller, Roger Corman’s adaptations of Poe’s Masque of the Red Death and Premature Burial, Burn, Witch Burn!, and 7 Faces of Dr. Lao among many others. A listing can be found at the Internet Movie Dabase.

Sadly, Beaumont’s life was cut tragically short at the age of 38 by a mysterious illness. Friends in the documentary speculate that this may have been due to a combination of factors, beginning with his childhood spinal meningitis, which may have led to a combination of early onset Alzheimer’s and Pick’s Disease as an adult.

I found the documentary informative, and obviously a labor of love not only for those associated with JaSunni Productions, but also for Beaumont’s friends and colleagues who reflect fondly on his talent. On the downside, and I can comment self-critically here as a fellow documentary format video producer, this documentary suffers visually from a lack of a unified or coordinated background for the various interviews, and the sound quality varies, at times being very difficult to hear which can provide an unfortunate distraction from the content. In addition, my review copy had some video problems as well, a situation that I hope will be rectified as the film is released.

You can order a copy of Charles Beaumont: The Short Life of Twilight Zone‘s Magic Man at the JaSunni Productions website.

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There are 5 Comments to "Charles Beaumont: The Short Life of Twilight Zone’s Magic Man"

  • Thanks for spreading the word about this documentary, which I am very eager to see myself. Beaumont’s role as not only a writer but also a friend and inspiration to the other members of his literary circle is worthy of much greater scrutiny, and it is to be hoped that this film will inspire fresh interest in him. It’s interesting to note the many ways in which his career paralleled and even intersected with that of Matheson: they wrote for many of the same magazines (PLAYBOY), shows (THE TWILIGHT ZONE), and studios (AIP), even collaborating on one feature film (BURN, WITCH, BURN) and several teleplays, and in addition to being close friends, they each had four children of roughly comparable ages. A book-length study of The Group, as they called it, and its interactions is long overdue.

  • admin says:

    Thanks, Matt. I think you’re just the one to write a book on The Group. I’ll be in touch soon regarding an interview on your book on Matheson.

  • Donald John Long says:

    I was a personal friend of film composer Herman Stein, who was a close personal friend of Charlie in the early 1960s when he was active working with Rod Serling on TWZ and with George Pal on Dr. Lao. He said the three of them – Herman, Charlie and Rod, would meet at Shelley’s Manne-Hole, a popular Hollywood jazz club owned by fam…ous jazz drummer Shelley Manne, for drinks, and then go bar-hopping to other well-known jazz clubs in L.A. because they all enjoyed West Coast Modern Jazz performed live. Herman said it was so tragic to see the former boyish Charlie age 40 years in just a few months and leave this world so young with the energy drained out of him. So sad!
    I honor his memory.

  • admin says:

    Donald, I am amazed by the people I am able to connect with through this blog and these topics. It’s great to meet someone with a connection to Beaumont.

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