The Carolina Science Fiction Society grew to about 15 members— all men except for one Jess Vines—who often met at Madle’s Plaza Shamrock bungalow. Of course, the club held trivia quizzes, discussed the latest scientific discoveries, and swapped opinions on science fiction literature and cinema. But they also introduced their passion to the wider community. In 1954, for example, the society co-sponsored a showing of The Thing From Another World at the Visulite Theatre. The convention would be better still: two full days of illustrious speakers, out-of-this-world exhibits, and best of all, an exclusive world premiere of the movie Forbidden Planet.
“MGM somehow found out that we had a club here,” Madle, now 100, tells me from his home in Rockville, Maryland. “And MGM had a screening room—it was a little neat little room, seated about 40 people—and it was just like Hollywood, only it was Charlotte.”
But this premiere was no black-tie event. Bombshell star Anne Francis didn’t spill out of a limo onto a red carpet on Tryon, and no one else from the production was there, either. It didn’t matter. “Just the idea of premiering Forbidden Planet was something special,” Madle wrote later, “but then so was the movie— we all thought it was fantastic, no pun intended.”
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