Forbidden Planet, Forgotten History
Charlotte Magazine|December 2020
In 1956, the movie that redefined science fiction cinema premiered in uptown Charlotte
ALLISON BRADEN

ON A BALMY LATE WINTER FRIDAY IN 1956, The Charlotte Observer announced that electronic “brains” would be on display at Hotel Charlotte that weekend. The exhibit was part of the second annual Southeastern Science Fiction Conference, an early ancestor of today’s popular “cons.” Organizer Robert Madle, who moved to Charlotte and founded the Carolina Science Fiction Society in 1953, had helped host Philadelphia’s worldcon, which made that city a scifi mecca. Now he was determined to bring the fandom south.

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.”

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM CHARLOTTE MAGAZINEView All

Head First

Guyana native Akash Prasad conceived a crown-inspired jewelry line in his adopted hometown

2 mins read
Charlotte Magazine
March 2021

MORE SIZZLE IN SOUTHPARK

Steak 48 is worth the buzz—and the splurge

2 mins read
Charlotte Magazine
March 2021

FRESH PICKS

Plan a Charlotte dining day with stops at these recently opened restaurants from our 2021 list of the city’s best (and enjoy a few treats in between)

2 mins read
Charlotte Magazine
March 2021

KOUNTER HONORS THE FRIENDSHIP NINE

Chef Rob Masone brings something new to Rock Hill’s culinary scene—without losing sight of the past

3 mins read
Charlotte Magazine
March 2021

FORM AND SUBSTANCE

Three-dimensional public art is forging a new landscape

2 mins read
Charlotte Magazine
March 2021

Plaza Midwood's Fertile Storefront

Not one but two Fortune 500 companies took root at nondescript 1508-1510 Central Ave.

3 mins read
Charlotte Magazine
March 2021

Birder's-Eye View

When the pandemic struck, thousands discovered the physical, mental, and ecological benefits of birding. Spring migration is the perfect time to join the flock

6 mins read
Charlotte Magazine
March 2021

The Case for Charlotte Music, Post-COVID

Just as Charlotte began to lay a foundation for something it’s notoriously lacked over the years—the ability to sustain a vibrant, distinctive local music scene—the pandemic snatched it away, as it did so much else. Was it a lethal blow? This magazine’s longtime editor, now a driver of a local music initiative, grabs the mic to argue: Hell, no

10+ mins read
Charlotte Magazine
March 2021

BUNNY GREGORY

Art changed Bunny Gregory’s life. She hopes it can change her community, too

5 mins read
Charlotte Magazine
March 2021

Bem-vindo!

The stretch of Monroe Road where you can find little pieces of Brazil

1 min read
Charlotte Magazine
March 2021
RELATED STORIES

MATCH GRADE MACHINE THOMPSON/CENTER BARRELS

MOSTLY LONG GUNS

5 mins read
Rifle
July - August 2021

BUFFY & HER PUPPY!

The Akita to Happiness Los Angeles, April 21

1 min read
Star
May 17, 2021

Belinda Carlisle on the Best (and Worst) of The Go-Go's

IN 1982, the Go-Go’s became the first and only (yes, still) all-women band who wrote their own songs and played their own instruments to have a No. 1 album on the Billboard charts with 1981’s Beauty and the Beat.

4 mins read
New York magazine
March 29 - April 11, 2021

MONEY TO BURN!

How twisted Tyson blew through $1.1M in just 90 MINUTES

2 mins read
Globe
January 11, 2021

The Great Vegas Meetings Magic Act

The city is working hard to conjure up events and make millions of visitors reappear

9 mins read
Business Traveler
December 2020/January 2021

Golden Present

Memories of Gold Dollars for the Holidays

9 mins read
COINage Magazine
December 2020 - January 2021

Great Expectations

Look to new luxury properties opening soon for your 2021 travel inspiration.

5 mins read
Global Traveler
Class Act 2020

The New Reality

AFTER A NEARLY TWO-DECADE HIATUS, ECO-CHALLENGE MAKES A COMEBACK ON AMAZON PRIME AT JUST THE RIGHT MOMENT

2 mins read
Outside Magazine
September/October 2020

Was Charlotte Dod the Greatest Athlete Ever?

The remarkable career of a Victorian athletic phenom—and the legacy that wasn’t

9 mins read
The Atlantic
October 2020

NORDSTROM'S BEAUTY DISCOUNTS ARE NEXT-LEVEL—THESE PRODUCTS WILL SELL OUT FIRST

You know that thing that happens when a dog sees a squirrel? Perked ears; alert, practically rabid eyes; stiffened, statue-still stance?

2 mins read
MODEL WORLD MAGAZINE
September 2020