Playhouse prize includes date with O’Neill, Mancini

by: Guy D'Astolfo

You don’t have to be a theater-lover to be interested in the Youngstown Playhouse’s current fundraiser.

It’s a raffle with a unique prize: A trip for two to Los Angeles that includes a TV studio tour and dinner with Ed O’Neill and Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini.

The prize includes flight, two nights in a hotel and car service.

Tickets are $25 and are available at or by calling 330-788-8739. Because the Playhouse is a non-profit organization, the purchase price is tax-deductible.

Playhouse pillar John Cox put together the raffle prize with two goals in mind: Keep it inexpensive but appealing to all.

The trip is tentatively set for Feb. 5-7 but is contingent on O’Neill’s shooting schedule for “Modern Family.”

The fundraiser has been dubbed Hollywood Goes Youngstown. O’Neill and Mancini, of course, are two of this city’s top exports to Hollywood.

The winning couple will not only have dinner with the two at Il Forno restaurant in LA, but also get a VIP studio tour that will include the ABC sitcom “The Neighbors.”

two new books compile tales of sci-fi pioneer edmond hamilton

Two beautiful hard-cover compilations of short stories by sci-fi pioneer — and Youngstown native — Edmond Hamilton are now available.

“The Collected Captain Future, Volume Three” (698 pages, $40) and “The Reign of the Robots: The Collected Edmond Hamilton, Volume Four” (696 pages, $40) were published last week by Haffner Press of Michigan. To order, go to

Hamilton was a futuristic storyteller, and a regular contributor to pulp magazines — including the legendary Weird Tales — in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. It was their heyday.

His early stories of terrestrial doom and interstellar destruction led to his nickname of “World Wrecker” Hamilton.

He is considered one of the pioneers of the “space opera” genre of science fiction, characterized by high-tech adventures in outer space. It’s a field that laid the groundwork for the likes of “Star Wars.”

The tales collected in “Reign of the Robots” represents the earliest writings of Hamilton, including some forays into horror.

“Captain Future” comprises the later stories of Hamilton’s space-faring hero.

Captain Future roamed space with an entourage of three companions: Grag, a sentient robot; Otho, a synthetic android; and Simon Wright (aka, “the Brain”), a disembodied brain kept alive in a serum-case. Together they protected the solar system from a variety of interstellar menaces.

Sound familiar, “Star Trek” fans?

In addition to his output for pulp magazines, Hamilton also wrote scripts for such DC comics as Superman, Batman and The Legion of Super Heroes.

In 1946, with sci-fi great Ray Bradbury as his best man, Hamilton married fellow genre writer Leigh Brackett. The couple divided their time between a restored farmhouse in Kinsman, Trumbull County, and a retreat in the California desert.

Brackett wrote many screenplays, including the first draft of “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.”

Hamilton died in California in 1977.

Incidentally, he was the younger brother of Esther Hamilton, the late Youngstown Vindicator journalist whose columns were part of the local landscape from the 1930s through the 1980s.

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