Typewriter of the moment: Harlan Ellison and his Olympia SG3

Harlan Ellison, his Olympia SG3, and other stuff - photo credit to MAX KATZ and KAREN FRIEDRICH
Harlan Ellison and his typewriter.  According to Richard Polt, the machine pictured is probably the Olympia SG3. Photo credit to Max Katz and Karen Friedrich.

Writers and their tools, in their workspaces.  We could probably date this photo by the stuff in Ellison’s office — the Cheshire Cat cutout?  Wasn’t that from an Edward Gorey-illustrated version of the Alice in Wonderland story?  What year was that?  The telephone on the wall, the desk scissors design . . . none of those fall into any expertise I have.  Someone else will have to date it.  My TinEye search didn’t shed any useful light.

I found the photo at Richard Polt’s fun site at Xavier University, The Classic Typewriter Page.  Polt is clearly working toward a MacArthur Foundation genius grant with this material.  Well, he would be, were I a judge.  (Who should get credit for the photo?  I don’t know — can you help identify who gets credit? See comment from Mr. Ellison:  ” . . .  image was captured for my 1974 STORY collection, APPROACHING OBLIVION, by MAX KATZ and KAREN FRIEDRICH.”  Credit for the photo gleefully acknowledged here.)

Oh, by the way, stay tuned:  Ellison is trying to sell his first typewriter.  That is a topic worthy of its own post.

Tip of the old scrub brush to the unfortunately moribund The Wit of the Staircase.

5 Responses to Typewriter of the moment: Harlan Ellison and his Olympia SG3

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    For fun, read Jude’s comment below, the response from Harlan Ellison (also below), and then go look at the lists here.

    Great lists to get lost in.


  2. […] Earlier note at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, on Ellison’s typewriter (it has sold, well) Share this:TwitterStumbleUponDiggRedditFacebookEmailLinkedInPinterestTumblrLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]


  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Happy to reunite the credit with the photo; unsure if more is asked.


  4. If the e.thief you suggest as worthy of a MacArthur Foundation Genius grant were one one-billionth as accomplished an historian as he is a practitioner of copyright infringement, he would easily have spotted, as condignly discovered (by the credit line running alongside the photo), that the image was captured for my 1974 STORY collection, APPROACHING OBLIVION, by


    Max was, at the time, a successful and well-known film and tv director; Karen was a much-lauded high-fashion model and photographer. They came out from NYC to do the session for Walker Books. Photos were taken for front and back dust jacket, the former to be combined with artwork by Leo & Diane Dillon, multipled Caldecott Award winners.

    For the lady who was surprised at our relative height, as the discharge certificate from the US Army Armor Center, on the wall just to the right of the Cheshire Cat in the photo attests, as of 1959 I was –and remain to this day, at age 76 — 5’5″ in stature.
    However, as Copernicus (or somebody else over 5 feet tall) has written, “We judge a man’s height from the top of his head to the height of the stars.”

    Apparently, for such women as the one who wasn’t smart enough to hang onto that copy of PAINGOD, we judge such persons’ height from the minginess of their soul to the height of the tarmac.

    As for your slavishly adoring estimation of Richard Polt, advise him he’s a preening thief, in my view.

    All you whirling absconding-with deniers of copyright are no more worthy of a MacArthur (which, oddly enough, I was partially responsible–as a judge–for
    actually awarding, several times) than is the cheapest Mark Wahlberglike street thug for snatching the food-stamps off crippled bag-ladies.

    Tell Polt to PAY UP. He knows how. And if’n he don’t, he can locate me and I’ll happily tell him.

    Till then, he’s a caitiff, and YOU worship false e.gods.

    Cheerfully, respectfully and yo MOMmah,

    Harlan Ellison


  5. Jude says:

    I first saw that photo in a collection of stories that Harlan wrote in the 1960s (at least if I’m remembering correctly). I met him at an SF conference in the 1970s. He is shorter than I am, which surprised me (I’m 5’5″ on optimistic days). I wouldn’t want his typewriter, but I wouldn’t mind having back the copy of Paingod which I had him autograph and which my first ex-husband stole. Oh, well. Things are always transitory.


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