In December 1945, Heinlein’s writing career was taking off. He generously made another attempt to help Hubbard to adjust to civilian life.
Heinlein offered Hubbard a contract to rewrite his early (and unpublished) novel, “For Us, the Living” which he had created back in 1938. Hubbard signed a generous contract that would have given him 50% of the profits. Soon after, he left Hubbard’s home to move in with Jack Parsons, and nothing more was heard of the project. Hubbard had passed up a chance to have his name associated with that of man who would later become a science-fiction legend.
Heinlein had the last laugh (albeit posthumously). “For Us the Living: A Comedy of Customs“, was published in 2003 complete with a an introductory essay by Spider Robinson, after the only typescript was discovered abandoned in a garage. By this time Heinlein’s reputation was such that there was a market for unpublished early work that would reveal how he developed as writer.
Parson’s had inherited a rambling house, and allowed people who interested him to stay there rent-free. This bohemian company now included Hubbard. The Story of Parson’s life, and this association is related in detail in the books “Strange Angel” and “Love and Rockets.”
Hubbard seemed to have disappeared from Heinlein’s life. Ever dutiful, Heinlein forwarded Hubbard’s Navy pension cheque to Parson’s address, and wrote to Hubbard with his new telephone number and to ask where he should send Hubbard’s mail. There was no reply.
In 1946 Heinlein met Parsons, and was introduced to Marjorie Cameron – the woman who participated, with Parsons and Hubbard, in the strange ‘Magickal’ rituals that Parsons was now consumed with. She didn’t like Heinlein, pronouncing him “Too Hollywood”.
For his part, when Heinlein learned of “Allied Enterprises” (a company financed by Parsons with the stated purpose of buying small private vessels on the East Coast of the USA, and transporting them to California where they could be sold at a profit) he was seriously concerned. In a letter to John Arwine written in 1946 Heinlein wrote:
I don’t understand Ron’s current activities. I am considerably disturbed by them – not angry but disturbed on his own account. I don’t think he is doing himself any good. As near as I can tell, at a distance he seems to be off on some sort of Big Operation tear, instead of straightening himself out and getting re-established in his profession.
The fact that he wrote to Arwine, that Hubbard being off an a “Big Operation tear” (and capitalised “Big Operation”) suggests that Heinlein thought Hubbard was under the influence of the manic phase of his bipolar disorder, and no good would come of the project.
As usual Heinlein was too charitable. The company was a pretext for Hubbard to separate Parsons from his money. Hubbard bought three ships (supposedly for the business) then absconded in one of them. He took with him not only the remainder of Parson’s money, but also his girlfriend Betty Northrup. Parson’s subsequently recovered two vessels (a yacht and a three-masted schooner) after legal action which also dissolved the partnership.
Hubbard came out of the dissolution of the company the owner of a three-masted schooner (which he sold) despite never having contributed any funds. Parsons never recovered from either the betrayal or the financial blow. They never met again.
While Parsons was suing Hubbard, Heinlein took in one of Hubbard’s discarded girlfriends, Vida Jameson, the daughter of Malcolm Jameson, a deceased Naval officer who had been a science-fiction. writer.
She has been a WAAC during the war. When she was demobilised, Hubbard wrote to her and offered her a job as the bookkeeper and business manager of “Madcap Enterprises” an umbrella company that managed Parson’s various business enterprises. Unfortunately for Jameson, Parsons talent as a rocket scientist was not not matched by his business acumen. Before “Allied Enterprises” Parsons, Hubbard and Northrup had created four or five companies with Parsons money, which had all collapsed in chaos, leaving Jameson to deal with the fallout.
After Hubbard absconded with Northrup (and Parson’s money) Jameson was destitute. Heinlein and his wife took her in to their Hollywood home, and she lived wit them until 1947. During this time she published her first story (The Thirteenth Trunk). This appeared in the “Post” alongside one of Heinlein’s, and the rights for radio broadcast were bought by ABC radio. This achievement, and the contacts she had made during her association with the Heinleins helped her to establish a career as a literary agent – which included selling a story by Jack Parsons.
Shortly afterwards, Hubbard wrote to Heinlein. This letter was an clumsy attempt to mend their relationship which had broken down when Hubbard had caused trouble with Leslyn’s sister by proposing a mysterious “China venture” to her young nephews – a typical Hubbard fantasy whose content they found inappropriate. Heinlein wrote back:
No, it was enticing a boy, a son of another veteran, to whom I had been left in locis parentis. When my sister-in-law called me – China – knives – guns etc – your goose was cooked with me.
As a wounded veteran I am still obligated towards you and will help if I find you down. and out, but I no longer trust you. You may show this letter to anyone you wish.
I think a lot of those ribbons on your chest, even if Polly doesn’t. You’re an authentic war hero, even though a phony gentleman. I’ll give you money to get you out of a jam, but I don’t want you in my home.1
- Excerpted from https://scicrit.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/robert-a-heinlein-a-real-science-fiction-authors-experience-with-l-ron-hubbard/ ↩