Bill died on October 7, 2016, at age 73 (born April 26, 1943). He dedicated his books to his wife Beverly and she stood by him, and sat with him, till the very end, and it is to her we owe grateful affection and deep felt sympathy. I was born a month earlier in 1943; we saw all those great 50’s SF movies probably the same Saturday mornings. (We both went to library school but I believe he graduated from his.) My friend Don Glut (from 70’s Scarecrow Press days) alerted me—a month after McFarland was founded, April 1979—to a Big manuscript his buddy Bill was working on: It became Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties, published in two volumes (1950–1957 in 1982 and 1958–1962 in 1986); a deluxe, oversize, pricey, jacketed “21st Century Edition,” corrected, deepened, and greatly expanded, came out in 2009.
Over the 37 years, Bill and I forged a strong friendship—including two suppers in L.A. in the early 80’s, one in which Don Glut collected all our (including current McF president Rhonda Herman on her first plane trip) water/wine/beer glasses, filled them by eye to certain levels, then banged out upon them the Star Spangled Banner with a spoon. The Bill friendship had several memorable characteristics. True affection and respect, and unending arguments, often resembling an exasperated chief (Bill) barely restraining himself in lecturing a tolerable ignoramus (me) about such matters as “The” and “un-” versus “not” and capitalizing prepositions (he liked to). He got as good as he gave, I might add—which made our connection so lively if oft off. He followed a prescription I frequently tried to too with challenging authors: end your wroth-filled frothful letter with a smatter of sincere and jovial praise and thanks.
From a publishing business point of view, Bill’s most remarkable monument is this: His KWTS! book garnered more reviews (all raves) than any other of our almost 7,000 titles so far – AND the reviewers themselves (with lavish encomia) well outranked the usual (Harlan Ellison, John Landis, Joe Dante…).
Bill, we’ll keep Watching for you.
—Robert Franklin, founder, president emeritus and now editor-in-chief of McFarland.