As most sci-fans know by now, editor and genre enthusiast Forrest J Ackerman has died. As editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland, the favorite magazine of every kid I knew growing up in the late 50's and early 60's, Forry almost single-handedly kept the interest in such hoary Universal screen monsters as Frankenstein, the Wolfman and Dracula alive...
Until the 70's, when in a remarkable twist of the zeitgeist, such luminous, dream-haunting characters became hip again. We saw Coppola's Dracula, Broadway musicals about Frankenstein, and Albert Finney tangling with werewolves in Wolfen...not to mention Blade, Buffy, The Lost Boys, then Kenneth Branaugh's Frankenstein film (with Robert DeNiro as the Creature), and Kate Beckinsale in Underground...all the way up to today's True Blood and Twilight.
Yet who kept the faith all those long, lean years between the Karloff and Legosi 40's, and the revisionist frenzy of today's entertainment world? Forrest J Ackerman, that's who. The world's Number One Fan.
How great was Forry, and how glorious his love for all things sci-fi and horror?
Ask anyone who ever got to visit his memorabilia-filled home, the Ackermansion in Horrorwood, Karloffornia. I was lucky enough to do so, soon after I first arrived in Hollywood in the early 70's.
I was also lucky enough to convince Forry to buy my first published writing, a short story called "I (Alone) Stand in a World of Legless Men." It wasn't very good, its title was a knock-off of Harlen Ellison's "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream," and it appeared as a back-of-the-book filler in the series of Perry Rhodan sci-fi paperbacks Forry was editing at the time. But, nevertheless, I was thrilled.
I haven't seen Forry in many, many years, but his death still is quite a blow. He represented something whose like we'll probably never see again: a true and dedicated and utterly sincere fan, who made it okay for all us geeky kids to love the genre stuff we did, and yet also encouraged us not to take it too seriously. It was fun, he insisted, and all the more valuable, important and memorable because of that fact.
In this difficult, complicated world, a lesson worth learning again and again.
Rest in Peace, Forry Ackerman.
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