Bradbury as a senior in high school, 1938
Bradbury was born on August 22, 1920, in Waukegan, Illinois, to Esther (née Moberg) Bradbury (1888–1966), a Swedish immigrant, and Leonard Spaulding Bradbury (1890–1957), a power and telephone lineman of English ancestry. He was given the middle name "Douglas" after the actor Douglas Fairbanks. Bradbury was related to the American Shakespeare scholar Douglas Spaulding and descended from Mary Bradbury, who was tried at one of the Salem witch trials in 1692.
Bradbury was surrounded by an extended family during his early childhood and formative years in Waukegan. An aunt read him short stories when he was a child. This period provided foundations for both the author and his stories. In Bradbury's works of fiction, 1920s Waukegan becomes "Green Town", Illinois.
The Bradbury family lived in Tucson, Arizona, during 1926–1927 and 1932–1933 while their father pursued employment, each time returning to Waukegan. They eventually settled in Los Angeles in 1934 when Bradbury was 14 years old. The family arrived with only US$40, which paid for rent and food until his father finally found a job making wire at a cable company for $14 a week. This meant that they could stay, and Bradbury—who was in love with Hollywood—was ecstatic.
Bradbury attended Los Angeles High School and was active in the drama club. He often roller-skated through Hollywood in hopes of meeting celebrities. Among the creative and talented people Bradbury met were special-effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen and radio star George Burns. Bradbury's first pay as a writer, at age 14, was for a joke he sold to George Burns to use on the Burns and Allen radio show.