The Best Celebrity Letters To Fans Of The '70s
Fandom back in the days of snail mail was a little different. Fans seeking to get closer to their idols -- be it Steve Martin, Iggy Pop, Gene Roddenberry or Stan Lee -- couldn't get the feeling of closeness through social media and online communities. But they could, and did, sit down and write fan letters to famous people. And some celebrities actually wrote back.
For the fanboy or fangirl, this would be a momentous event, like receiving a letter from Santa or Bugs Bunny. Here are the best celebrity letters ever sent. Some are funny; others are heartwarming, most fit the idea of said celebrity in our minds.
A Sincere David Bowie
Obviously, David Bowie became a massive star, a space man if you will. However, even though he reached the stars, he still took the time to sincerely answer fan mail. He was very genuine and even credits his fans with inspiring not only his efforts but his music. After sharing his appreciation of America, he tells her, "You know it is your letters and cards and applause after each show which makes me able to carry on," and finishes with "DON'T EVER STOP."
Ray Bradbury Tells Us To Fear People, Not Robots
Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, was not just a talented writer -- he was also a perennially enthusiastic futurist who always made time for his fans. In this letter from 1974, he tells Brian Sibley that it takes him awhile to get back because he doesn't have a secretary and thus writes his responses to fans -- more than 200 per week -- himself. That right there sounds like a full time job. Sibley's letter was evidently about Walt Disney and his amusement park properties, and Bradbury replies with unbridled praise for old Walt. Bradbury finishes, signs his name, then adds a post-script that runs longer than the body of the letter. Here he addresses Sibley's fear of robots, which he says is unwarranted. Bradbury's argument is essentially that robots, like books or cars or a movie projector, are tools humans use. It is the humans who are to be feared, he says:
I am afraid of Catholics killing Protestants and vice versa.
I am afraid of whites killing blacks and vice versa.
I am afraid of English killing Irish and vice versa.
I am afraid of young killing old and vice versa.
I am afraid of Communists killing Capitalists and vice versa.
But...robots? God, I love them. I will use them humanely to teach all of the above. My vo-ice will speak out of them, and it will be a damned nice voice.
Steve Martin Being Steve Martin
Naturally, the hilarious Steve Martin replied in a way only a comedian would dare. His “extremely” personal letter included handwritten fill-in the blank words. It’s like a mad lib for cherished celebrity letters.
If any other celebrity did this, it might not be taken as humorously. Since it’s Steve Martin, it’s immediately clear he’s dropping jokes with every self-important sentence. After all, who doesn’t love staring at rocks?
Charles Schulz Answers A Difficult Question
When a fifth-grade student wrote to the Peanuts author, he asked: “What does it mean to be a good citizen.” Despite being faced with such a nuanced question, Schultz answered in a way we should all look to as an example. He denounces the loud voices who decry the loss of “American Virtues” and extolls the importance of protecting the little guy or as he puts it “our smallest minorities.” Even though this letter was written in November of 1970, it’s a lesson we need today more than ever.
Gene Roddenberry Thinks There Might Be A 'Star Trek' Sequel, Someday
In 1973, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry replied to Miss Judy Thomases, apparently a fan still bummed out about the show's cancellation. In the text, he methodically addressed her concerns and questions about the show (and unfortunately, we don't have her original letter to him). Ihe final answer he discusses whether there will ever be a Star Trek sequel:
I would love to see STAR TREK revived under the proper conditions. All of us who worked on the show have a great affection for it. However, I am only a partial owner of STAR TREK which is also owned by Paramount and NBC. Paramount owns the copyright to it and the ultimate decision is really in their lap. They refer to their existing STAR TREK episodes being re-run as their "79 Jewels" and of course they think twice before putting a new one on if it would destroy the value of the ones they already have. I don't think it would, but this so far has been fear of their business people.
Of course, in 1979, Star Trek was revived as a film, with the original TV show cast. Then, in 1987, Star Trek: The Next Generation came to TV. While the old-school Trek fans might feel there's no substitute for the original, the success of the films and spinoff series (of which there were several more) cannot be denied.
Iggy Pop Responds Kindly, As You’d Expect
When a young fan from Austria sent his band’s mixtape along with a request, asking the Stooges star to sing with them, you might not think he’d answer. But, boy, did he ever. In true rockstar style, Iggy Pop dropped multiple F-bombs but in the kindliest way possible. After telling the young man he was from the American countryside but “who give a F#$K.”
While he politely declined to be featured in the young man’s garage band, he offered some salient advice. Apparently, the mixtape had “Some kind of good feeling to it, it's playing & i haven't wanted to turn it off yet, i'm on the third song now, i don't wanna sing on it, but—oh, that's pretty cool, the beginning of the 3RD song, i like that—or maybe that was the third song." He adds, as all musicians like to hear, “good f$#king luck.”
Stan Lee Keeps His Word
Stan Lee, the face of Marvel Comics, was around for a long time -- in fact, he was 95 when he died in 2018. In 1947, when he was a hotshot young comics writer in his 20s, he offered to evaluate any aspiring artist's work for the fee of $1.00. Some 25 years later, a hopeful named Russell Maheras sent Lee a parody comic called "Souperman," and included $2.00 (Lee's fee, adjusted for inflation). Lee was by then a hotshot middle-aged editor, having created the Marvel Universe with Jack Kirby and other artists.
But Lee kept his word. "A promise is a promise," he wrote. The critique of Maheras' work was honest but kind. But he did suggest that the young comics fan change course:
If you really wanna become a pro, you're kidding around too much. Nobody's impressed with "Souperman" takeoffs now. We were doing them 30 years ago. Do real serious stuff. For example, pick a character you think you could handle-- HULK for example. Then do a serious, no-kidding story about him ... That's the only way to really tell if you have the stuff or not.
Tags: Charles Schulz | David Bowie | Gene Roddenberry | Iggy Pop | Letters | Ray Bradbury | Stan Lee | Steve Martin
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