The great Ib Melchior sits in his office in Los Angeles, CA, July 2012. Photo by Brett Homenick.
This morning I woke up to some terrible news. Ib J. Melchior, the 97-year-old, Danish-born writer and filmmaker, passed away in Los Angeles. Ib's work has been prevalent in my life ever since I was a child. I remember seeing Reptilicus (1961), a film for which he wrote the screenplay and worked on the American version, in my early years. Later on, I'd see more of his sci-fi efforts, including The Angry Red Planet (1959), which is perhaps his best-known film. He was also the son of famed opera singer Lauritz Melchior.
Ib Melchior addresses guests at a party held at the home of one of his many friends, July 2012. Photo by Brett Homenick.
I first contacted Ib via his short-lived official Web site in 2007. Given his involvement in some of my favorite Western monster movies, as well as his participation in the screenplay of The Volcano Monsters, I was eager to speak with him. It wasn't until a few months later (in 2008) that I received an apologetic response. Ib told me that he had only just received my inquiry and joked that it must have gotten lost in the Twilight Zone.
In short order, the interview was arranged, and I was quickly learning some very interesting information about everything from the abandoned Volcano Monsters project to Reptilicus. Perhaps much of this information was already known to other movie researchers at the time, but hearing directly from the man who made it all happen was a true joy. After the interview came out, Ib and I stayed in touch, and I always looked forward to our telephone conversations.
Yours truly with Ib Melchior at his home, right behind the legendary Chateau Marmont in Los Anegeles, July 2012.
Around this time, Ib came out with a new book, Melchior A La Carte, which I was very happy to review. After the review was published and sent to Ib, he wrote me a message, thanking me for my review, and offered to put me up for the night should I choose to visit L.A. I was surprised to receive such an offer, and naturally there was no way I could turn it down. So, when I came to L.A. in September 2009, I made plans with Ib, and I was able to spend the night at his house.
I would get to know Ib very well and would see him often until March 2011, which is when I moved to Japan. In fact, when I told Ib about my plans to move, he sent me an extremely encouraging message in response. Given that it would be my first time living in another country, his words proved to be a big help.
While I could no longer see Ib in person, we did exchange Christmas cards and phone conversations. When I came to visit L.A. for about a week in July 2012, I stayed with the Melchiors the whole time. They were always such gracious hosts.
A familiar poster hangs in Ib Melchior's home. Photo by Brett Homenick.
When his wife Cleo died last October, I knew it would be a devastating blow to Ib. He loved her with all his heart, and losing a spouse, especially at such an advanced age, would be unfathomably painful for anyone to handle. I mailed Ib a condolence card and later a Christmas card. But I did not call him until January. When I spoke with him, he seemed to be doing fairly well under the circumstances, but the wind was clearly taken out his sails. He told me it would be a long time before he would have any motivation to resume any of the writing projects he had been working on. Despite that, we did joke a bit on the phone and had a pleasant chat. I'm glad our last conversation ended on a high note.
When I last visited Ib in 2012, he wanted to show me his favorite movie, Around the World in 80 Days (1956). Unfortunately, a glitch in the VHS tape prevented us from watching it, and ever since then I was hoping for a chance to see the movie along with Ib, who was probably its greatest champion. Now I will have to watch the film in his memory.
Rest in peace, Ib. Your kindness knew no bounds, and I will be forever grateful. Thank you.