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Forrest J. Ackerman 1916-2008 R.I.P.

Old 12-05-08, 08:53 PM
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Forrest J. Ackerman 1916-2008 R.I.P.

Goodbye Uncle Forry. This is very sad news for all of us Horror and Sci-Fi truebloods.

From the LA Times.

Forrest J Ackerman dead at 92
02:38 PM PT, Dec 5 2008

Sad (but not shocking) news today that Forrest J Ackerman has died. Dennis McLellan, one of the fine obituary writers in the country, writes about this true original:

Forrest J Ackerman, who influenced a generation of young horror movie fans with Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine and spent a lifetime amassing what has been called the world's largest personal collection of science fiction and fantasy memorabilia, has died. He was 92.

Ackerman, a writer, editor and literary agent who has been credited with coining the term "sci-fi" in the 1950s, died Thursday of heart failure at his home in Los Angeles, Kevin Burns, head of Prometheus Entertainment and a trustee of Ackerman's estate, told the Associated Press.

As editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland, Ackerman wrote most of the articles in the photo-laden magazine launched in 1958 as a forum for past and present horror films.

"It was the first movie monster magazine," Tony Timpone, editor of Fangoria, a horror movie magazine founded in 1979, told The Times in 2002.

Timpone, who began reading Famous Monsters as a young boy in the early '70s, remembers it as "a black-and-white magazine with cheap paper but great painted [color] covers. It really turned people on to the magic of horror movies."

Primarily targeted to late pre-adolescents and young teenagers, Famous Monsters of Filmland featured synopses of horror films, interviews with actors such as Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Vincent Price, and articles on makeup and special effects.

Famous Monsters reflected Ackerman's penchant for puns, with features such as "The Printed Weird" and "Fang Mail." Ackerman referred to himself as Dr. Acula.

"He put a lot of his personality into the magazine," said Timpone, who later became friends with Ackerman. "It was a pretty juvenile approach to genre journalism, but as kids, that's all we had."

Again, you can read the entire obit right here.

One of our sister blogs, The Daily Mirror, has dug up a 2002 profile by Hilary E. MacGregor, one of my former colleagues here in the features sections of the Los Angeles Times. An excerpt:

Even here amid his diminished collection, it becomes apparent that the greatest part of Ackerman's collection is the man himself. He is full of tales of the birth of horror in Hollywood. He saw movies that have been lost forever. He attended Bela Lugosi's funeral. He attended not just the first World Science Fiction Convention in New York City in 1939, but nearly every convention since. As a teenager, he corresponded with the president of Universal Studios, Carl Laemmle, 62 times, until Laemmle wrote on his president's stationery, "Give this kid anything he wants." Fifteen-year-old Forrie Ackerman chose the sound discs to some of the greats of early cinema like "Murders in the Rue Morgue" and "Frankenstein."

(More from the 2002 Los Angeles Times feature on the late Forrest J Ackerman...)

Born and raised in Hollywood, Forrie is the ultimate fan. He is still an eager 12-year-old boy trapped in a gangly, 86-year-old man's body. He delights in bad puns and very silly jokes. He points to a casket covered in embroidered pillows in the front of his living room. "That's my coffin table," he says with a wink. "Room for one more ... "

He is well-spoken and a master storyteller. He has an encyclopedic mind that holds data like a computer. He can rattle off obscure movie titles, forgotten movie stars, esoteric movie lore. His stories are what make his objects, much of which look like junk in an adolescent's bedroom, come alive.

There is Bela Lugosi's cape in the corner, from the 1932 stage performance of "Dracula" in San Francisco. And there, over the dining room doorway, are the seven great faces of horror cinema in life-size 3-D molds: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., Tor Johnson, Glenn Strange, Vincent Price and Peter Lorre.

Where others display china, Forrie displays models of dinosaurs, monster heads and a skull holding a serving bowl. Where others might hang paintings, Ackerman hangs a wall-size comic strip of Vampirella, which he created in 1958.

He walks back toward the bedroom with a mischievous look.

"You are over 21," he flirts, arching an eyebrow. "You can come into my 'badroom.'"

That whole article is well worth reading, and again, you can find it right here. I'll be posting more on Ackerman as the news ripples out.

R.I.P. Forrie...

-- Geoff Boucher
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Old 12-06-08, 09:12 AM
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I heard he wasn't look too good at last summer's Comic-Con.

FM was the first magazine I remember reading on a regular basis. I would go to Sav-On Drug Store in Redondo Beach and look for the new issue. Those covers were so cool and the magazine really kick-started my love for horror movies.

RIP Forry
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Old 12-06-08, 09:32 AM
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I knew this would happen eventually...but I'm still deeply saddened at this news. Forry has been a part of my life since I was able to pick up a book and look at it by myself; I've met him, many times, and he was always a true gentleman, and very accommodating of others. My daughter met him and immediately loved her "Uncle Forry" at age 4, as she, too has been a monster/horror film fan her entire life (she's now 15). And Forry had invited us to visit recently...and we just couldn't make it.

I'll miss him greatly.
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Old 12-06-08, 11:52 AM
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R.I.P. Uncle! There's a whole generation or two of weirdos and freaks who wouldn't be here without you.
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Old 12-06-08, 12:44 PM
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A one of a kind original. Famous Monsters is still the classic horror/sci-fi bible in my book. Like many others I grew up reading it religiously. Remember my first one, #48, with Werewolf of London on cover. I still have my Aurora monster models displayed on my DVD shelves. Used to order the 8mm movies out of the back of FM, hang a sheet on the garage and show the movies outside during the summer. The dude was "fang-tastic"!
Saw him a few times. He was on stage and told his rendition of "Frankenstein" at a 50th anniversay showing of The Thing I attended. At horror movie conventions he was always roaming the dealers room like the rest of us buying memorbilia. Once I was riding an elevator which stopped to let him and Rex Reason on. The thing I remember the most was sitting in the audience at a Q&A with Ray Harryhausen and he sat down in the chair next to me with a with his latest haul of photos and stuff.
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Old 12-07-08, 06:55 PM
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I was out of town and just heard about this. A very influential figure for fans, not just horror fans, but movie fans in general.

RIP, Forry.
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