Friday, August 7, 2015

Cele Goldsmith Lalli

Michael and Cele Goldsmith Lalli at a 1980s LunaCon.
Photo by and Copyright © Andrew Porter; all rights reserved.
And here's the obit I wrote for the April 2002 issue of Science Fiction Chronicle:

Cele Goldsmith Lalli, 68, former editor of Amazing and Fantastic and later editor-in-chief of Modern Bride, died January 14th [2002] in a car crash near her Newtown, Conn., home when she apparently lost control of her car and hit a tree. She is survived by her husband Michael Lalli, daughters Francesca Morrissey of New Milford, Conn. and Erica L. Sullivan of Stamford, and five grandchildren. 

Four decades ago, Cele Goldsmith took Amazing and Fantastic, two digest-size magazines which were practically moribund during the 1950’s, into the forefront of SF and fantasy publishing. Her reign lasted from Amazing and Fantastic’s December 1958 to their June 1965 issues. To honor her, she received a Special Hugo Award for her efforts, at the 1962 World SF Convention. During her tenure, and working with a shoestring budget, Amazing and Fantastic published stories by a pantheon of SF’s greats: J.G. Ballard, James Blish, John Brunner, Avram Davidson, Philip K. Dick, Thomas Disch, Harlan Ellison, Philip Jose Farmer, Frank Herbert, Keith Laumer, Ursula K. Le Guin, Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, Cordwainer Smith, Jack Vance, James White, Roger Zelazny and many others. She bought the first stories of a number of authors, including Zelazny and Le Guin. In Amazing, under her editorship Sam Moskowitz reprinted numerous long-forgotten stories, with background material, and Lester del Rey and Ben Bova ran nonfiction articles. 

Faced with falling sales, in 1965 owner Ziff-Davis, publisher since 1938, sold them to Sol Cohen, ending this intensely creative period. Goldsmith, now Cele Lalli following her marriage to Z-D assistant controller Michael Lalli, moved to Z-D’s Modern Bride, where she remained for another 33 years, retiring as editor-in-chief in 1998. Her years at Modern Bride made her one of the longest tenured editors of any major consumer magazine. She had converted to Catholicism upon her marriage to Lalli, which, according to associates, gave her insights into the wedding traditions of both Jewish and Catholic brides. Ironically, she died within a few hours of Modern Bride’s sale to Conde Nast for $52 million. 

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction stated, “Under Cele Goldsmith’s editorship Amazing improved dramatically, publishing good work by many leading authors... Zelazny was one of several writers whose careers were aided in their early stages by Goldsmith; others include Ben Bova, David R. Bunch, Thomas M. Disch, Ursula K. Le Guin and Robert F. Young”.  And The Encyclopedia of Fantasy noted, “In the period 1960-65 Fantastic was the premier fantasy magazine”.

Todd Mason: That last judgement isn't wrong, but I'd suggest that Mike Ashley, who made it, is more sweeping in putting Fantastic ahead of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Science Fantasy than he might be...all three together, with some not insignificant contributions from the Magazine of Horror and others mentioned recently and over the years on this blog, made the early 1960s a good time for fantasy short fiction in magazines. Among her other discoveries: Keith Laumer (see the interview, link below).

Previous Cele Goldsmith Lalli posts:

2 comments:

Walker Martin said...

Cele Goldsmith Lalli was also responsible for publishing the art of Lee
Brown Coye in FANTASTIC. He was one of the best of the old WEIRD TALES artists and I have a double page preliminary piece that was used in FANTASTIC, February 1963 for "Titans in the Crypt". Coye did many interior illustrations for FANTASTIC during this period. Recently 3 books have been published about his art and there will be a discussion about him at Pulpfest during August 13-16, 2015.

Todd Mason said...

Cool...his work for WEIRD TALES was often more tailored to his strengths, as was his later work for WHISPERS, but he certainly did good work for FANTASTIC as well.