Sunday, May 14, 2017

Bruce Bryan (1906-2004)

Leslie Bruce Bryan
Author, Editor, Archaeologist, Anthropologist
Born January 16, 1906, Washington, D.C.
Died September 16, 2004, North Hollywood, California

Dudley S. Corlett's collaborator on the story "The Dancer of Quena" (Oriental Stories, Spring 1932) was another adopted Angeleno, writer, archaeologist, and anthropologist Bruce Bryan. Born Leslie Bruce Bryan on January 16, 1906, he was a native of Washington, D.C. His father was Paul M. Bryan, a government worker. His mother was Ethel (Hughes) Bryan. In 1947, Bruce Bryan earned himself some notoriety by throwing his mother out of their North Hollywood home, on Mother's Day no less. I'm not sure how that all turned out, but Bruce R. Bryan, son of Bruce Bryan, also evicted that day, later died in an automobile accident. You can read about the whole mess on the blog 1947project: The original Los Angeles time travel blog, hereBruce Bryan was first married to Charlotta R. Bryan, maiden name unknown. His second wife was (Mary) Katherine Fahrenwald, whom he wed on November 25, 1936, in Washington, D.C. Bruce R. Bryan, the son, was Charlotta's child, not Katherine's. That might have made the eviction a little easier on the boy, but hardly by much, I imagine.

Despite his successes as a writer, Bruce Bryan was known as an archaeologist and anthropologist. He started in his career as the first staff archaeologist with the County Museum of Natural History, Science, and Art (now the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History) in 1926. In that capacity, he carried out investigations on San Nicolas Island, one of the Channel Islands, in October-December 1926. Soon after that, he went to the Southwest Museum of Los Angeles, where he eventually became archaeological curator. In the 1930 census, he listed his occupation as staff writer for a trade magazine. That may have been for the magazine of the museum, called The Masterkey. Bryan was also editor of that magazine at some point. Further expeditions followed his first, to Carpinteria in about 1930 and to the Dragoon Mountains of southeastern Arizona in 1932. Bryan left the museum to return to Washington, D.C., and to work in public service. He was once again with the Southwest Museum from 1959 until his retirement in 1983. He carried out further archaeological explorations of San Nicolas Island in 1958 and 1960.

Bruce Bryan had a respectable career as a writer for popular magazines and newspapers. He had five stories in Oriental Stories and Weird Tales, plus a dozen letters in those two titles and in Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror and The Magic Carpet Magazine. All were printed in the period 1932 to 1939. Like his collaborator Dudley S. Corlett, Bryan wrote about movies for Art and Archaeology. His article "Movie Realism and Archaeological Fact" was published in that magazine in the October issue of 1924. I have also found a story, "Shakespeare Said It!", in Parade of Youth for June 26, 1938, and mention of an unpublished book called The Archaeology of San Nicolas Island. In 1970, Bryan published a version of his research in the book Archaeological Explorations on San Nicolas Island. Readers of children's literature will remember San Nicolas Island as the setting for Scott O'Dell's wonderfully good novel Island of the Blue Dolphins (1960).

After a very long life and career, L. Bruce Brian died on September 16, 2004, in North Hollywood, California, at age ninety-eight.

Bruce Bryan's Stories in Oriental Stories and Weird Tales
"The Dancer of Quena," with Dudley S. Corlett, in Oriental Stories (Spring, 1932) 
"The Ho-Ho Kam Horror" in Weird Tales (Sept. 1937)
"The White Rat," with Earl Pierce, Jr., in Weird Tales (Sept. 1938) 
"The Sitter in the Mound" in Weird Tales (June/July 1939)
"Return from Death" in Weird Tales (Aug. 1939)

Bruce Bryan's Letters to Weird Fiction Magazines
Oriental Stories, Spring 1932
Oriental Stories, Summer 1932
Oriental Stories, Winter 1932
Weird Tales, Feb. 1932
Weird Tales, Apr. 1932
Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror, Oct. 1932
The Magic Carpet Magazine, Apr. 1933
The Magic Carpet Magazine, Jan. 1934
Weird Tales, Nov. 1936
Weird Tales, Feb. 1937
Weird Tales, July 1937
Weird Tales, Oct. 1937

Further Reading
"History of Archaeological Research," Natural History Museum, here
Obituary of Bruce Bryan, here.

From the Los Angeles Times, October 14, 1969, part II, page 1. In the same crime, the burglars made off with poison darts. That sounds like the beginnings of a weird tale . . . 

Happy Mother's Day to All Moms!
(Including Mrs. Bryan)

Text copyright 2017 Terence E. Hanley

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