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Forrest J Ackerman (1916 - 2008)

Author
Date
12-05-2008
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Forrest J Ackerman

There's no way to do this impersonally, because there's nothing impersonal about the man. Forrest J Ackerman, the pun-lovin' mind behind Famous Monsters of Filmland, our Uncle Forry, died of heart failure yesterday, December 4, 2008, at 11:58 PM. It's not an exaggeration to say that the man defined what it meant to be a horror fan for a whole generation of Famous Monsters readers and he's a legend to newer horror geeks like me. To list the full extent of his contributions to the genre would be foolhardy and I'm not even going to try. Think of this as less of an obituary and more of a unreliable remembrance from a fan who's taking it a little too hard.

I met Forry just once, nearly a year ago. I made a trip out to Los Angeles specifically for the purpose of visiting him at his "Acker-mini-mansion" during his weekly open house. Let me repeat that -- every week, this man opened the doors of his memorabilia-stuffed home to anybody who wanted to stop by, friend or stranger. Every week. For free. How cool is that?

Even at the time, Forry was very frail. He sat in his chair the whole time, legs wrapped in a blanket. I remember that his hand was dry and it felt like it might crumble in my own. But he didn't let that slow him down. Although he was quiet initially, once he began telling stories -- of his first viewing of Frankenstein, of a trip to Germany to read the original script for Metropolis, of other matters wide and wonderful -- he lit up and it seemed that he could not be stopped, not that any of those there would. When I finally had a chance to speak with him, he listened attentively to whatever I was blathering on about (I could not tell you what, although I was probably gushing), only interrupting when he hadn't quite heard what I'd said. I left that day feeling both nostalgic and a little sad that I hadn't grown up in a time when he was a more prevalent force in the lives of horror fans.

Over at the Classic Horror Film Board (no relation to Classic-Horror.com), the thread about Forry's passing contains many lovely tributes to his memory. He will be missed dearly.

Forry RIP

I met him just once, at the Fantastic Film Festival in Manchester in 2001. Despite looking every bit an 85 year old man, he held court in the bar pretty much the whole weekend. Absolutely the best story teller I have EVER met, he kept everyone hooked with his fantastic tales from a fantastic life (Isaac Asimov's skirt chasing tendencies is the one that sticks in my head). A true original, a great inspiration, Forry will be sorely missed.

A sad day

This is indeed a sad day for horror fans.  Although I never met him personally, it does feel as though a giant has passed.  I still smile when I see his cameo in Amazon Women on the Moon!  To quote Shakespeare, "He was a man, take him for all in all, [we] shall not look upon his like again."

To awaken thrilling horror!

Goodbye Uncle Forry

One of the disadvantages of growing older (there are many) is hearing that someone that meant a lot to your childhood has passed. Forrest J. Ackerman, founder, writer, publisher and all around Nice Sci Fi Guy left this world today. My appreciation for classic films sprang forth from the pages of his baby Famous Monsters of Filmland. I met Uncle Forry several times, but my favorite visit was 10 years ago when my fellow film fan friend Raven White asked me to project films for a presentation in smell-a. (Los Angeles). After the screening of some sci fi and horror forgettables, we headed out to a local restaurant. Favorite guest Uncle Forry joined us. At our prodding, Forry regaled us with one amazing story after another. Stories that included Bela Lugosi's less then supportive wife. Al Jolson calling Forry "Sonny Boy" as he sang him that song! His amazement at seeing Frankenstein (1931), King Kong (1933) and his beloved Metropolis (1927) First Run!!! etc. etc. I drove Forry home at nights end. I explained to him a memory that was very personal to me. I told him how at the ripe old age of 12, I was devastated to hear that Boris Karloff had passed. I cried and my parents were clueless as to why. Forry explained to me that indeed when Boris Karloff passed, he received letter after letter from distraught young fans who had never dealt with death before. He took the time to write every one of them back and could not have been more supportive. At 51, death has become somewhat routine to me now. With the passing of my Mom and Dad, I realize how the last thing we truly have left to savor are our memories. I remember that trip to the original Ackermansion (in Beverly Hills Karloffornia of course), and how I asked question after question to a patient Forry of his memories of my favorite actors. I remember seeing amazing props from several of my favorite fantasy films. I also spotted a sense of pride in Forry when I correctly identified each and every piece of memorabilia, naming each film that they were featured in that he had on display. He had the look of a proud parent who had raised that kid right! Yes, you did raise this kid right, Uncle Forry. Do me a BIG favor thou won't you? Say hi to Bela, Vincent, Lon and especially Boris for me will you.

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