B-movie screenwriter and director Ib Melchior didn't make it see his one hundredth birthday today but he came close, passing away about two and a half years ago at age 97. Born and raised in Copenhagen, the son of famous opera tenor and actor Laurentz Melchior, Ib Melchior wrote or co-wrote such films as The Angry Red Planet, The Time Travelers, Robinson Crusoe on Mars, and Retilicus, and contributed to such television shows as The Outer Limits, Men Into Space, and 13 Demon Street. The classic B-movie Death Race 2000 was based on his 1952 short story "The Racer." In 1960 Melchior created an outline for a proposed television series; producer Irwin Allen lifted from Melchior's script to create the hit show Lost in Space. While Melchior never received onscreen credit from Allen for his idea, he was hired as a consultant for the 1998 Lost in Space film and was eventually paid $90,000 (in lieu of 2% of the films gross). In 1963, as a "gimmick" story for the science fiction magazine Gamma, Melchior used a number of lines from Shakespeare to create a Sf story, "Here's Sport Indeed!" -- making him probably the only author to co-write a SF magazine story with the Bard of Avon.
Science fiction was just a part of Ib Melchior's life. A decorated war hero, he served in the Army's Counterintelligence Corps, helped liberate the Flossenburg concentration camp, participated in the discovery of stolen gold and art at the Merkers-Kieselbach Cavern, and aided in the capture of a German Werwolf unit. In addition to receiving the Bronze Star from the U.S. Army, Melchior was also dubbed Knight Commander of the Militant order of Saint Bridget of Sweden.
In 1976, the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films gave him its Golden Scroll Award of Merit for Lifetime Achievement.
He won the 1982 Hamlet Award for best playwriting from the Shakespeare Society of America.
Melchior was never a major influence in science fiction, but he provided me and others of my generation many hours of entertainment. So, thank you, Ib Melchior, and rest in peace.
To celebrate his centennial, here's a clip from 9 Lives in 90 Years: The Ib Melchior Story:
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