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RIP Forrest J. Ackerman 1916 – 2008

Forrest J Ackerman, the sometime actor, literary agent, magazine editor and full-time bon vivant who discovered author Ray Bradbury and was widely credited with coining the term “sci-fi,” has died. He was 92. He had inspired such legends as Spielberg, Lucas, and King. Beyond the break you can read SpookyDan’s farewell.
SpookyDan writes in: “Today some very sad news came about that genre legend Forrest J Ackerman has passed away. His contributions were amazing and his energy and love for the genre never waivered; he will be sorely and greatly missed. He was 92.

Like many of you, I have plenty of his old magazines in the library, and have always loved them. As a very young kid I already had a love for horror films. I don’t know what year it was or how old I was, but I recall seeing a Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine staring at me on the newsstand. The cover was of the sand people from Star Wars, and it really bugged me so I ripped it off and went onto the monsters inside. I recall reading it over and over. (Why that picture bothered me I will never know.) The magazine was full of silly (dumb) puns and odd pictures, but it would kick start my career as a horror fan. Years of watching horror movies and reading other magazines would grow this passion from casual to obsessed. However, I recall, as if it was yesterday, being enchanted with that issue of Famous Monsters.

Years later director Tim Sullivan introduced me to Forry. I had seen Forry around at various conventions, but never really spoke to him. Tim arranged with Joe Moe (Forry’s caretaker) to set up a lunch with Forry and a tour of the Ackermansion (at this point it was the mini mansion). My friend Tom and I took Forry to the House of Pies to just chat and hear his stories. Forry is a very generous man, and I discovered that afternoon just how generous he was with telling his stories. He told us about meeting the horror legends like Bela Lugosi, and how he got a “used” handkerchief from Simone Simone. We spoke about the film Slither and other films, some he missed and others he loves. It was a magical and surreal afternoon. He told me a story that would change my perspective as a horror fan forever. He told us about a trip he and his wife took in the 70s to meet the fans of the magazine. He took his own money and traveled across the country stopping everywhere he could. His favorite part of the story was meeting a kid who told him there were 30 fans in his town and when Forry arrived, he found out that it was this one kid and a farm full of sheep, the kid counted the animals as fans of the magazine as well.

What struck me so much was how Forry was in love with the fans as much as he is with the genre. A feeling I have always shared with him. From that afternoon on, I realized that I was not alone in my admiration for the fans as well as the films. It’s not about just reporting facts, it’s about uplifting the genre and creating a community. The facts about the films are easy to find, but Forry’s career showed me that there is a place for people like me to sculpt a career around a passion for the genre.

To call Forry a fan of the genre is putting it lightly. This man lived and breathed his passion for decades. His passion encouraged thousands of people to pursue careers in film, and I consider myself amongst the lucky ones who was inspired by his love of film, and even luckier to have met him.

We will miss you dude.



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