Author and adviser to Harvey Milk, FRANK M. ROBINSON was born on this date. Robinson moved from Chicago to San Francisco in 1973 to work with a friend and fellow writer, Thomas N. Scortia, on a novel about a skyscraper fire. While working on that book, he became friends with Harvey Milk, who ran a camera store in the neighborhood. The novel, The Glass Inferno, along with two other books, became the basis for the script of The Towering Inferno. All three authors received screen credit and payment for their portions of the story.
Robinson used his money to settle in San Francisco and to help Harvey to become the first openly Gay man to be elected to public office in the country. Prior to his books, he had made his living writing for men’s magazines, including Rogue, Gallery and Playboy. At Playboy he ghost write The Playboy Advisor, a colloquium of sex and lifestyle advice for straight men.
His reputation as a science fiction writer was established with a 1956 novel, The Power about a man with advanced mental powers that became a television special starring Theodore Bikel and in 1968 as a film starring George Hamilton and Suzanne Pleshette. In the 1970s and 1980s Robinson collaborated with Mr. Scortia on several projects including The Prometheus Crisis (1975) The Nightmare Factor (1978) and The Gold Crew, a nuclear-nightmare thriller. His novel The Dark Beyond the Stars (1991) was selected as one of the New York Times notable books of the year.
Robinson had a small part in Milk, Gus Van Sant’s 2008 bio-pic of Harvey Milk, standing in a window shouting “I’ll tell you my brothers!”
He died of heart disease and pneumonia on June 30, 2014 in San Francisco.