Word is spreading fast amongst horror fan circles that the great Forrst J Ackerman, who would be celebrating his 92nd birthday this November 22nd, is slipping away from us at an alarmingly fast rate of speed. So dire is his condition that Ray Bradbury, no spring chicken himself these days, dropped everything else that he was doing and rushed to his friends bedside to speak with him one last time.
Ackerman is an icon of horror historians. He’s famous for his massive collection of movie memorabilia and for his publishing the classic magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland. He was such a well known and respected character that true movie buffs turned pro would seek him out to give him bit parts in films just to be able to say that they had him in their films and many a documentary was made where Forrest Ackerman’s name was first on the list of must have interviewees.
Forrest J Ackerman is, quite unfortunately, another name in a long list of people that I wanted to meet but never did and, from the latest news, now never will.
Here’s a portion of his write up on his MySpace page as to what he has done with his 91 years on this planet.
“Some of my Achievements – I founded and Edited FAMOUS MONSTERS MAGAZINE that brought Halloween to kids around the World every month for almost 200 issues and almost 30 years. — I created VAMPIRELLA. — I coined the term SCI-FI. — I wrote the shortest SCI-FI story in the World, consisting of a single letter. — How did I start? Well, in 1922, at the age of 5-1/2, I saw my first fantasy film, ONE GLORIOUS DAY.
In October, 1926, I read and collected my first “scientifiction” magazine, AMAZING STORIES. In l929, I won a contest in the San Francisco Chronicle, entered by over 200 teenaged contestants, with my short story about a trip to Mars. In that same year I founded The Boys Scientifiction Club (I would have included girls but at that time female fans were as rare as unicorns’ horns). In l932, I presented the world’s first known list of “imagi-movies” (one of my many coined words) on the first page of the first science fiction fanzine,The Time Traveler. By l935 I was correspondingwith l27 sci-fi fans around the world– although it would be l954 before I coined the ubiquitous abbreviation, “sci-fi .” Since l948 I have served as literary agent for approximately 200 clients including: Pierre Barbet Nelson Bond Jerome Bixby Bradbury & Asimov (early foreign reprints) Harry Bates Arthur J. Burks Cleve Cartmill Mark Clifton Stanton A. Coblentz Mary Elizabeth Counselman Hugo Gernsback Horace L. Gold L. Ron Hubbard Raymond F. Jones George Langelaan Ib Melchior P. Schuyler Miller Kris Neville Andre Norton Ross Rocklynne Victor Rousseau Curt Siodmak Sherwood Springer William F. Temple Lyn Venable A.E. van Vogt Stanley Weinbaum Jack Williamson and S. Fowler Wright and I represent the estates of artists Frank R. Paul, Elliott Dold, Albert Nuetzell, Charles Schneeman and Hannes Bok I have collaborated with Catherine Moore, A.E. van Vogt, Robert A.W. Lowndes, Francis Flagg and other sf authors.
Among 50 stories, I’ve written the world’s shortest one myself: one letter of the alphabet. I have seen my favorite film, METROPOLIS close to 100 times. I have appeared in over 50 motion picture cameos, in films such as THE TIME TRAVELERS, AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON, THE HOWLING, BEVERLY HILLS COP III, THRILLER, INNOCENT BLOOD, VAMPIRELLA, and DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN. My handprints and autograph are enshrined in cement in front of the Vista Theater in Hollywood (est. in l926; former location of the Babylon set pieces from D.W. Griffith’s INTOLERANCE and the upstairs office of Ed Wood, Jr.). My life companion, Wendayne (the only one in the world) Ackerman, as the aftermath of a mugging in Italy, died some years ago, but not before translating l50 sci-fi novels from French & German, moonlighting while teaching for 20 years at university.
It would be nice to look forward to going to a Great Sci-Fi Convention in the Sky when I expire and reuniting with Wendayne & Boris & Hugo & Paul & Bela & Isaac & Bob (Bloch) and my beloved maternal grandparents, last of the big time angels (my grandfather, George Herbert Wyman inspired by the sci-fi bestseller of the day, Looking Backward, architected — for $5. a week — the monumental Bradbury Building in Los Angeles, which has been seen in BLADERUNNER, WOLF, DEMON WITH THE GLASS HAND and many other films). I am vaguely contemplating opting for a cryogenic comeback but in case I don’t become a human people-cicle, I, like Isaac Asimov and other thinkers I admire, don’t expect to wake up in some spirit realm of an afterlife. I’ve been a secular humanist since I was 15, long before the term was invented, and nothing since has changed my mind. I regard myself as a sci-fi sponge that should be squeezed for information and anecdotes as long as I’m here. So while I’m still around, squeeze me.”
His official MySpace page can be found here: