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Forrest J. Ackerman, R.I.P.
December 5, 2008 2:11 PM   Subscribe

His magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland was as important to my childhood as Mad magazine, he had one of the greatest collections of Sci-Fi memorabilia in private hands, and frankly, I'm a little torn up at the moment, so I'll end this FPP with a tip of the hat to Forrest J. Ackerman, a true hero of mine.
posted by dbiedny (55 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Forry Ackerman? No!

I'll miss you, monster man.

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posted by Faint of Butt at 2:18 PM on December 5, 2008


Oh man. Saw him at a con about five years ago, and he seemed to be in ill health back then but...

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posted by JoanArkham at 2:19 PM on December 5, 2008


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posted by ryecatcher at 2:21 PM on December 5, 2008


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My knowledge of him comes almost entirely from Stephen King, who praised him to the rafters. Quite a fellow.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:23 PM on December 5, 2008


Here's some links from the post I was writing:
LA Times Obit
A tour through the Ackermansion
His website (apparently down at the moment)
Famous Monsters of Filmland
posted by Horace Rumpole at 2:24 PM on December 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks for adding those links, Horace, especially the Ackermansion tour. Somewhere, buried in a box, I have the 3 CD-ROM set of the Interactive Ackermansion. I've gotta dig it up. Man, this is a hell of a way to end what's already a suck-o week for me. Worse, I had the chance to visit Forry more than a couple of times in the nineties, and never got around to it. Damn.
posted by dbiedny at 2:31 PM on December 5, 2008


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posted by ardgedee at 2:32 PM on December 5, 2008


Here's quite a good Flickr set of the Ackermansion.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 2:39 PM on December 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by Thorzdad at 2:48 PM on December 5, 2008


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posted by paddbear at 2:48 PM on December 5, 2008


Oh man. I just saw something the other day saying he had pneumonia. He's responsible for a couple generations of monster movie geeks.
posted by marxchivist at 2:52 PM on December 5, 2008


As a kid I would lean on my mom until she bought me nose putty, mortician's wax, collodion, spirt gum and greasepaint so I could disfigure my face like Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, Charles Laughton et al

Yes, yes, Mad Magazine and Famous Monsters ( and Charles Addams) made me what I am today--which is: a very weird old man.

Emphatically, .
posted by Restless Day at 2:52 PM on December 5, 2008


Aww, man, that sucks.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:53 PM on December 5, 2008


Farewell, 4E.
posted by eriko at 2:54 PM on December 5, 2008


(Uh...by which I mean to say, Mr. Ackerman's death sucks. Not being a very weird old man. That might be okay. Interestingly, I was just ruminating on how this is likely to be my own eventual fate as I clicked to MeFi, and was thinking at the time that such a fate might...not be such a great one, really? But now I'm reminded that it's not all bad. So thanks for that, Forry.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:56 PM on December 5, 2008


Man, my science-fiction film prof had to explain who Forrest Ackerman was to my classmates about a year and a half ago. I was depressed all day after that one.

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posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:58 PM on December 5, 2008


Aww man.

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posted by Sailormom at 2:58 PM on December 5, 2008


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posted by jlkr at 2:58 PM on December 5, 2008


Ladies and gentlemen, the Ackermonster has left the planet.
posted by Smart Dalek at 2:59 PM on December 5, 2008


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posted by anansi at 3:00 PM on December 5, 2008


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posted by Justinian at 3:10 PM on December 5, 2008


Yeah, there was word that this was coming a few weeks ago. I stopped by his house in the early 90s, back when you could just call him and he would invite you over. I was a little freaked out to actually be doing it, and so my memory is foggy, but I remember him being a really decent guy and having an unbelievable collection of old horror film stuff displayed around his home like in a museum. I felt like I was intruding and bolted after maybe half an hour. Should have stayed longer.

On preview, I can see from the Flickr set that he was still doing that in 2001.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:25 PM on December 5, 2008


A true great who will be sorely missed.
posted by stinkycheese at 3:30 PM on December 5, 2008


The time machine will have been invented for Forrest J. Ackerman.

So R.I.P., FJA, but not too much.

Because we're on our way back for you NOW.
posted by humannaire at 3:36 PM on December 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


And a slight correction - It's Forrest J Ackerman, no period. My bad.
posted by dbiedny at 3:38 PM on December 5, 2008


Aw, Forry. I went on one of his house tours back in the '90s too. I remember steep narrow stairs and just... STUFF everywhere. He liked us girls in the tour, and we all got Ackermansion ball point pens.
posted by queensissy at 3:44 PM on December 5, 2008


He was an excellent human being. Our sense of the fantastic would have been a poorer thing without him.

Now what happens to all that awesome memorabilia?
posted by fleetmouse at 3:46 PM on December 5, 2008


Farewell, Forry.

He was also a sometimes film star, in such films as 1991's Nudist Colony of the Dead. Which is of course a musical. Also in The Double-D Avenger, which I haven't seen so I don't know whether there are songs in it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:02 PM on December 5, 2008


Oh man.

The last time I went to Norwescon (1991) I was wandering the hotel lobby and spotted a familiar-looking old man. I thought to myself "Is that...no, the Ackermonster wouldn't be at this particular con."

The next morning, I happened to be operating the camera for the Con's morning closed-circuit broadcast, when they introduced Mr. Ackerman as the special, surprise Fan GoH. I've met a handful of celebrities, and he was the only one I actually gushed over.

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posted by mgrichmond at 4:06 PM on December 5, 2008


Farewell, 4E. Meeting the guy was one of the highlights of my LASFS membership, back in the Jurassic Era. Another chunk of my youth gone...
posted by languagehat at 4:39 PM on December 5, 2008


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posted by brundlefly at 4:53 PM on December 5, 2008


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posted by Nyrath at 5:26 PM on December 5, 2008


> Man, my science-fiction film prof had to explain who Forrest Ackerman was to my
> classmates about a year and a half ago. I was depressed all day after that one.

I can forgive 'em for not knowing. There was never a time when large numbers of people who merely enjoyed science fiction or liked monster movies but otherwise remained normal and didn't go all otaku about such stuff would have automatically known who Ackerman was (and then his fame faded because he got old.)

It was never like that. You pretty much always had to be part of, or at least edging your way into, one or another of several related fandoms (monster movies, SF, 'zines, cons, etc.) before you would start to be aware of a glow on the night horizon and discover that it was not a shopping center, it was 4SJ. He never became a mainstream semi-celeb the way Asimov and Clarke and other guys like that did (and never gave any sign of wanting to) because, obviously, he wasn't a major maker. He was a fan, the #1 alltime uber-fan.

Oh yeah,

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posted by jfuller at 6:00 PM on December 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


At the age of 9 or 10 (mid 70s), Famous Monsters of Filmland became the first magazine that I just had to buy every month. Man did I get excited when I saw there was a new issue on the stands.

Still, I probably haven't thought of ol' Forry in years.

But last weekend I bought a collection of books at an auction that came from the estate of Gray Morrow, a guy who'd been in illustrator in comic books for decades (I had no idea who he was until the day of the auction). And one of the magazines in the collection is something called "Amazing Forries", which appears to be some sort of private publication made for an event that celebrated Ackerman's career. When I got home, I discovered it had been signed by Forrest himself. All of which has led me to having 3 or 4 conversations in the past week in which I've had to explain exactly who Forrest J Ackerman was, and why this silly magazine had me so damn excited.

And now here he is, getting his

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At the age of 92? I can't feel too sad, this guy lived the dream.
posted by the bricabrac man at 6:21 PM on December 5, 2008


Aw, damn. 92 is a good run, but he'll be missed. I was lucky enough to go to a party at the Ackermansion - which made me a happy, happy nerd.

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posted by Space Kitty at 6:31 PM on December 5, 2008


But last weekend I bought a collection of books at an auction that came from the estate of Gray Morrow

Well damn, I didn't Gray Morrow died. Eight years ago...

He wasn't a super-great comic artist, but he always did a good job and you could tell what the hell was going on. That's cool you got his books.
posted by marxchivist at 6:44 PM on December 5, 2008


Cool, he spoke Esperanto!
posted by Araucaria at 7:26 PM on December 5, 2008


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posted by Bron at 8:21 PM on December 5, 2008


That's a real shame, one of the oldest geeks out there, and he sounded like a really nice guy who just loved science fiction, I only heard about him when he was interviewed on the podcast Geekson (Previous Post)
posted by Del Far at 8:45 PM on December 5, 2008


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posted by Tesseractive at 9:24 PM on December 5, 2008


Damn. Just yesterday I was talking to a friend of mine about how the old school fans were dying away. Somebody needs to start collecting some oral history.

And yeah, 92... what a run.
posted by Kattullus at 9:27 PM on December 5, 2008


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posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:44 PM on December 5, 2008


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posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:06 PM on December 5, 2008


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posted by Slithy_Tove at 11:33 PM on December 5, 2008


Wow, just a couple weeks ago -- pretty much out of the blue, I was wondering if the "Acker" man was still alive, did a quick check online. I had probably heard his name in the news (it was his birthday on November 24th).
posted by RavinDave at 1:52 AM on December 6, 2008


Terribly sad, even for someone that lived to be 92 years old. FJA's publications shaped my childhood & I still revisit them from time to time. Here's hoping he's buried in a cheap rubber mask.

The obscure-as-fuck film Scalps is very much worth tracking down. FJA has a great cameo in a movie that seems like it was pasted together from dogeared old copies of his mag.
posted by item at 3:23 AM on December 6, 2008


Christ - the man was in a lot of movies. I had no idea.
posted by item at 3:24 AM on December 6, 2008


This is sad, although - as it's been noted and should be - that 92 is a damn good run.

When I was a kid, I used to obsessively draw every image in Famous Monsters.
posted by Hickeystudio at 5:00 AM on December 6, 2008


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posted by pita at 5:32 AM on December 6, 2008


Ackerman used to be Chuck Beaumont's agent for a time. Beaumont was (of course) the genius and quirky writer behind some of the absolute best "Twilight Zone" episodes, among a bazillion short stories and a few movies. Anyway, I once read that Ackerman had an unproduced Beaumont movie script with a premise that sounded pretty neat: A brutal dystopian future where all forms of humor were outlawed and punishable by death. One can imagine clowns being led to firing squads, dissidents planting whoopee-cushions in the Senate, a resistance front of pranksters using custard pies instead of bullets, etc. Always wanted to ask him about that.
posted by RavinDave at 6:48 AM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


See ya Monster Man. Why can't magazines be fun like the way they were back then?
posted by doctorschlock at 7:14 AM on December 6, 2008


The Misfits based their logo on the Famous Monsters of Filmland logo, and one of their post-Danzig albums is named "Famous Monsters". They were/are all huge monster movie geeks and Ackerman fans.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:25 AM on December 6, 2008


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posted by Xoebe at 9:21 PM on December 6, 2008


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What a shame, but what a fascinating fellow Forry was! I devoured Famous Monsters, and even bought things out of those great classified ads in the back of the magazine. FM intruduced me to many of the great (and not so great) movie monsters. Thank you, 4SJ.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:22 AM on December 8, 2008


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posted by mouthnoize at 12:24 PM on December 8, 2008


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