Forrest James Ackerman (November 24, 1916 – December 4, 2008) was an American magazine editor; science fiction writer and literary agent; a founder of science fiction fandom; a leading expert on science fiction, horror, and fantasy films; a prominent advocate of the Esperanto language; and one of the world's most avid collectors of genre books and film memorabilia. He was based in Los Angeles, California.
Forrest J Ackerman
Forrest James Ackerman
November 24, 1916
|Died||December 4, 2008 (aged 92)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
As a literary agent, he represented such science fiction authors as Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, A.E. Van Vogt, Curt Siodmak, and L. Ron Hubbard. For more than 70 years, he was one of science fiction's staunchest spokesmen and promoters. He was the founding editor and principal writer of the American magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland, published by Warren Publishing. He co-created the character Vampirella, based on the 1968 Jane Fonda film Barbarella.
Ackerman also acted in films from the 1950s into the 21st century. He appears in several documentaries related to this period in popular culture, like Famous Monster: Forrest J Ackerman (directed by Michael R. MacDonald and written by Ian Johnston), which premiered at the Egyptian Theatre in March 2009, during the Forrest J Ackerman tribute; The Ackermonster Chronicles! (a 2012 documentary about Ackerman by writer and filmmaker Jason V. Brock); and Charles Beaumont: The Short Life of Twilight Zone's Magic Man, about late author Charles Beaumont, a former client of The Ackerman Agency.
Also called "Forry", "Uncle Forry", "The Ackermonster", "Dr. Acula", "Forjak", "4e" and "4SJ", Ackerman was central to the formation, organization and spread of science fiction fandom and a key figure in the wider cultural perception of science fiction as a literary, art, and film genre. Famous for his word play and neologisms, he coined the genre nickname "sci-fi". In 1953, he was voted "#1 Fan Personality" by the members of the World Science Fiction Society, a unique Hugo Award never granted to anyone else.
Early years edit
Ackerman was born Forrest James Ackerman (though he would refer to himself from the early 1930s on as "Forrest J Ackerman" with no period after the middle initial), on November 24, 1916, in Los Angeles, to Carroll Cridland (née Wyman; 1883–1977) and William Schilling Ackerman (1892–1951).
His father, William, chief statistician and assistant to the vice-president in charge of transportation for the Associated Oil Company was from New York and his mother (the daughter of architect George Wyman) was from Ohio; she was nine years older than her husband.
Ackerman attended the University of California, Berkeley during the 1934–1935 academic year; thereafter, he worked as a film projectionist and at odd jobs with fan friends. On August 15, 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he rose to the rank of staff sergeant before being honorably discharged in 1945. He passed his entire time in service at Fort MacArthur in the San Pedro neighborhood of Los Angeles, ultimately serving as editor of the base newspaper.
Career and fandom edit
Ackerman saw his first "imagi-movie" in 1922 (One Glorious Day), purchased his first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories, in 1926, created the Boys' Scientifiction Club in 1930 ("girl-fans were as rare as unicorn's horns in those days"). He contributed to both of the first science fiction fanzines, The Time Traveler, and the Science Fiction Magazine, published and edited by Shuster and Siegel of Superman fame, in 1932, and by 1933 had 127 correspondents around the world. His name was used for the character of the reporter in the original Superman story "The Reign of the Superman" in issue 3 of Science Fiction magazine. He was an early member of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society and remained active in it for many decades.
He attended the 1st World Science Fiction Convention in 1939, where he wore the first "futuristicostume" (designed and created by his girlfriend, Myrtle R Douglas, better known as Morojo), which sparked decades of fan costuming thereafter, the latest incarnation of which is cosplay. He attended every Worldcon but two thereafter during his lifetime.
In 1994, the International Costumers' Guild (ICG) presented a special award to Ackerman at Conadian, the 52nd Worldcon, recognizing him as the "Father of Convention Costuming" for wearing his "futuristicostume" at the 1st Worldcon.
Ackerman invited Ray Bradbury to attend the Los Angeles Chapter of the Science Fiction League, then meeting weekly at Clifton's Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles. The club changed its name to the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society during the period it was meeting at the restaurant. Among the writers frequenting the club were Robert A. Heinlein, Emil Petaja, Fredric Brown, Henry Kuttner, Leigh Brackett, and Jack Williamson. Bradbury often attended meetings with his friend Ray Harryhausen; the two Rays had been introduced to each other by Ackerman. With $90 from Ackerman and Morojo, Bradbury launched a fanzine, Futuria Fantasia, in 1939, which ran for four issues.
Ackerman was an early member of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Science Fiction League and became so active in and important to the club that in essence he ran it, including (after the name change) the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, a prominent regional fan organization, as well as the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F). Together with Morojo, he edited and produced Imagination!, later renamed Voice of the Imagi-Nation (which in 1996 would be awarded the Retro Hugo for Best Fanzine of 1946, and in 2014 for 1939), which was nominally the club fanzine for the LASFS.
In the decades that followed, Ackerman amassed an extremely large and complete collection of science fiction, fantasy, and horror film memorabilia, which, until 2002, he maintained in an 18-room home and museum known as the "Son of Ackermansion". (The original Ackermansion where he lived from the early 1950s until the mid-1970s was at 915 S. Sherbourne Drive in Los Angeles; the site is now an apartment building.) This second house, in the Los Feliz district of Los Angeles, contained some 300,000 books and pieces of film and science-fiction memorabilia.
From 1951 to 2002, Ackerman entertained some 50,000 fans at open houses – including, on one such evening, a group of 186 fans and professionals that included astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Ackerman was a board member of the Seattle Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (now Museum of Pop Culture), where many items of his collection are now displayed.
He knew many of the writers of science fiction in the first half of the twentieth century. As a literary agent, he represented some 200 writers, and he served as agent of record for many long-lost authors, thereby allowing their work to be reprinted in anthologies. He was Ed Wood's "illiterary" agent. Ackerman was credited with nurturing and even inspiring the careers of several early contemporaries like Ray Bradbury, Ray Harryhausen, Charles Beaumont, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and L. Ron Hubbard. He kept all of the stories submitted to his magazine, even the ones he rejected; Stephen King has stated that Ackerman showed up to a King book signing with a copy of a story King had submitted for publication when he was 11.
Ackerman had 50 stories published, including collaborations with A. E. van Vogt, Francis Flagg, Robert A. W. Lowndes, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Donald Wollheim and Catherine Moore, and the world's shortest – one letter of the alphabet. His stories have been translated into six languages. Ackerman named the comic-book character Vampirella and wrote the origin story for the comic.
He also authored several lesbian stories under the name "Laurajean Ermayne" for Vice Versa and provided publishing assistance in the early days of the Daughters of Bilitis. He was dubbed an "honorary lesbian" at a DOB party. Ackerman's involvement with lesbian fiction led to him becoming the first heterosexual guest of honor at Gaylaxicon. It also caused him to be found in violation of the Comstock laws for sending "obscene materials" to another man through the mail while both of them were pretending to be lesbians.
Through his magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland (1958–1983), Ackerman introduced the history of the science fiction, fantasy, and horror film genres to a generation of young readers. He also contributed to film magazines from all around the world, including the Spanish-language La Cosa: Cine Fantástico magazine from Argentina, where he had a monthly column for more than four years. In the 1960s, Ackerman organized the publication of an English translation in the U.S. of the German science fiction series Perry Rhodan, the longest-running science fiction series in history. These were published by Ace Books from 1969 through 1977. Ackerman's German-speaking wife Wendayne ("Wendy") did most of the translation. The American books were issued with varying frequency from one to as many as four per month. Ackerman also used the paperback series to promote science fiction short stories, including his own on occasion. These "magabooks" or "bookazines" also included a film review section, known as "Scientifilm World", and letters from readers. The American series came to an end when the management of Ace changed, and the new management decided that the series was too juvenile for their taste. The last Ace issue was #118, which corresponded to German issue #126 as some of the Ace editions contained two of the German issues, and three of the German issues had been skipped. Ackerman later published translations of German issues #127 through #145 on his own under the Master Publications imprint. (The original German series continues today and passed issue #2800 in 2015.)
Appearances in film, television, and music edit
A lifelong fan of science fiction "B-movies", Ackerman appeared in more than 210 films, including parts in many monster movies and science fiction films (Dracula vs. Frankenstein, The Howling, The Aftermath, Scalps, Return of the Living Dead Part II, Innocent Blood), more traditional "imagi-movies" (The Time Travelers, Future War), spoofs and comedies (Amazon Women on the Moon, The Wizard of Speed and Time, Curse of the Queerwolf, Transylvania Twist, Hard to Die, Nudist Colony of the Dead, Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold) and at least one major music video (Michael Jackson's Thriller). His Bacon number is 2.
In 1961, Ackerman narrated the record Music for Robots created by Frank Allison Coe. The cover featured Ackerman's face superimposed on the robot from the film Tobor the Great. The record was reissued on CD in 2005.
Ackerman appears as a character in The Vampire Affair by David McDaniel (a novel in the Man from U.N.C.L.E. series), and Philip José Farmer's novel Image of the Beast, first published as the short story "Blown" in Screw magazine by Al Goldstein.
In 2001, Ackerman played the part of an old wax museum caretaker in the camp comedy film The Double-D Avenger directed by William Winckler and starring Russ Meyer luminaries Kitten Natividad, Haji, and Raven De La Croix. Ackerman played a crazy old man who was in love with Kitten Natividad's character, The Double-D Avenger, and his character also talked to the Frankenstein figure and other wax monsters in the museum's chamber of horrors.
In 2007, Roadhouse Films of Canada released a documentary, Famous Monster: Forrest J Ackerman. The documentary, available on DVD only in the UK, airs regularly on the BRAVO channel.
In 2013, the science fiction author Jason V Brock released a feature-length documentary about Ackerman called The Ackermonster Chronicles!.
Personal life edit
Ackerman was married to a German-born teacher and translator, Mathilda Wahrman (1912–1990), whom he met in the early 1950s while she was working in a book store he happened to visit. He eventually dubbed her "Wendayne" or, less formally, "Wendy", by which name she became most generally known within SF and film fandoms, after the character in Peter Pan, his favorite fantasy. Although they went through a period of separation during the late 1950s and early 1960s, they remained officially married until her death: she suffered serious internal injuries when she was violently mugged while visiting Italy in 1990 and irreparable damage to her kidneys led to her death. By choice, they had no children of their own, but Wahrman did have a son by an earlier marriage, Michael Porges, who did not get along with Ackerman and would not live in Ackerman's home.
Ackerman also received a diploma from Sequoia University, unaccredited higher education institution in Los Angeles, California, in April 1969, which named him a Fellow of the Sequoia Research Institute.
In 2018, Vincent Price biographer Lucy Chase Williams wrote that Ackerman sexually harassed her and other women over the course of decades despite "written and verbal demands to cease", alleging that he "forced wet kisses" on her, groped her, and mailed her pornography and personal fantasies in which he wanted to "hurt and abuse" her.
In 2003, Ackerman said, "I aim at hitting 100 and becoming the George Burns of science fiction". His health, however, had been failing. He had a major heart attack in 1966 and wore a pacemaker thereafter. He was susceptible to infection in his later life and, after one final trip to the hospital in October 2008, informed his best friend and caregiver Joe Moe that he did not want to go on but hoped to live long enough to vote for Barack Obama in the November 2008 presidential election. Ackerman checked himself out of the hospital and refused further treatment, accepting only a hospice service. Honoring his wishes, his friends assisted him in holding what he delighted in calling "a living funeral". In his final days, he saw everyone he wanted to say goodbye to. Fans were encouraged to send messages of farewell by mail.
While there were several premature reports of his death in the month prior, Ackerman died a minute before midnight on December 4, 2008, at the age of 92. From his "Acker-mini-mansion" in Hollywood, he had entertained and inspired fans weekly with his collection of memorabilia and his stories.
Upon his death, the administration of Ackerman's estate was entrusted to his friend, television producer Kevin Burns. Burns was tasked with the sale and distribution of Mr. Ackerman's extensive collection of Science Fiction and Horror memorabilia. Included in this were Bela Lugosi's ring from Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and Lon Chaney's teeth and top hat from London After Midnight. There were eighteen beneficiaries named in Ackerman's will, including three waitresses from his favorite restaurant and hangout, "The House of Pies". His personal papers—books, correspondence, fan mail, and more—went to the Special Collections Research Center at Syracuse University (he had made prior donations of material there, as well as to the University of Wyoming, Eastern New Mexico University, and the University of California).
A 2013 rebroadcast of the PBS program Visiting ... with Huell Howser, originally airing in 2000, which featured Ackerman and highlighted his memorabilia collection, was revised to indicate that Ackerman had since died and his collection had been auctioned.
On Thursday morning, November 17, 2016, the corner of Franklin and Vermont Avenues, in the heart of the neighborhood "Uncle Forry" lived in for 30 years, was christened Forrest J Ackerman Square.
- Hugo Awards
- Horror Hall of Fame Induction Award, 1989 (Forry dubbed the Award, "The Grimmy")
- The Saturn Award for Special Service, 1994 at the 21st Saturn Awards
- The Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards Inducted to the Monster Kid Hall Of Fame
- Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement, 1996
- Monster Bash Achievement Award, 2007 (Initial winner. The award is dubbed, "The Forry")
- Mangled Skyscraper Award at G-FEST '99 for contributions to the giant monster genre
- World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, 2002
- Inkpot Award, 1974
Short stories edit
See also edit
- Carlson, Michael (December 7, 2008). "Forrest J Ackerman". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on September 5, 2013. Retrieved December 9, 2008.
His name also played a small, if oblique, role in popular culture: his middle initial J always appeared without a full-stop, which inspired Homer Simpson's creators; Homer's middle initial J stands for nothing. ... Forrest J Ackerman, writer, editor and literary agent, born November 24, 1916; died December 4, 2008
- Robert Bloch. "Another Part of the Forrest" in Bloch's Out of My Head. Cambridge MA: NESFA Press, 198, 191-93
- McLellan, Dennis (December 6, 2008). "Forrest J Ackerman, writer-editor who coined 'sci-fi,' dies at 92". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 24, 2017. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
- Corliss, Richard (December 6, 2008). "Sci-Fi's No. 1 Fanboy, Forrest J Ackerman, Dies at 92". Time. Archived from the original on October 27, 2017. Retrieved November 8, 2015 – via content.time.com.
- Arndt, Richard J. (September 22, 2008). "The Warren Magazines". Archived from the original on March 14, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2013. Additional Webcitation archive.
- "Famous Monster: Forrest J Ackerman". IMDb.com. Archived from the original on March 24, 2016. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
- "Michael R. MacDonald". IMDb.com. Archived from the original on October 15, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
- "Ian Johnston". IMDb.com. Archived from the original on October 15, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
- "The Ackermonster Chronicles!". IMDb.com. Archived from the original on February 11, 2017. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
- "The AckerMonster Chronicles! (2012)". IMDb.com. Archived from the original on February 11, 2017. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
- "Charles Beaumont: The Short Life of Twilight Zone's Magic Man". IMDb.com. Archived from the original on February 10, 2017. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
- French, Lawrence "Richard Matheson remembers his good friend Charles Beaumont" Archived September 24, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, Cinefantastiqueonline.com, March 24, 2010. Retrieved October 31, 2012.
- The Warren Companion: The Definitive Compendium to the Great Comics of Warren Publishing, by David A. Roach and Jon B. Cooke; published 2001 by TwoMorrows Publishing
- Forrest J. Ackerman: Science-fiction magazine editor and collector of movie memorabilia Archived February 26, 2018, at the Wayback Machine, by John Clute, in The Independent; published December 31, 2008; retrieved February 6, 2018
- "Forrest J Ackerman, 92; Coined the Term 'Sci-Fi'". December 7, 2008. Archived from the original on December 23, 2015. Retrieved November 8, 2015 – via www.washingtonpost.com.
- "1953 Hugo Awards". Hugo Awards. July 26, 2007. Archived from the original on March 2, 2009. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
- Corliss, Richard (December 6, 2008). "Sci-Fi's No. 1 Fanboy, Forrest J Ackerman, Dies at 92". Time. Archived from the original on December 7, 2008. Retrieved December 9, 2008.
Forrest J Ackerman, who died Thursday at 92 of a heart attack in Los Angeles, was all these things and many more: literary agent for such science fiction authors as Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, A.E. van Vogt, Curt Siodmak and L. Ron Hubbard; actor and talisman in more than 50 films (The Howling, Beverly Hills Cop III, Amazon Women on the Moon); editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine and creator of the Vampirella comic book franchise.
- 4forry.best.vwh.net Archived July 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- "Today's Comics Guide: November 24, 2011: Today's Birthdays" Archived October 17, 2015, at the Wayback Machine. CBGXtra. November 24, 2011
- "Forrest James Ackerman (1916–present)". Everythingvampire. Archived from the original on January 25, 2009. Retrieved December 9, 2008.
Forrest James Ackerman, science fiction and horror fiction writer and editor, was born on November 24, 1916, in Los Angeles, the son of Carroll Cridland Wyman and William Schilling Ackerman. After attending the University of California at Berkeley for a year (1934–35), Ackerman held a variety of jobs (including as a civil service typist, and clerk at his father's workplace)and spent three years in the U.S. Army before founding the Ackerman Science Fiction Agency in 1947.
- Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, vol. 2, R. Reginald, 1979, p. 789
- U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938–1946
- "One Glorious Day (1922)". IMDb.com. Archived from the original on July 29, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
- "Science Fiction". Ufdcweb1.uflib.ufl.edu. Archived from the original on October 15, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
- "Mimosa 29, pages 55-59. "Caravan to the Stars" by Dave Kyle". Jophan.org. Archived from the original on May 1, 2004. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
- "NYcon 1 - 1939 WorldCon - W39-030". Fanac.org. December 30, 2009. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
- "ICG Special Awards and Recognition". costume.org. International Costumers' Guild (ICG). May 27, 2016. Retrieved December 20, 2022.
-  Archived December 11, 2001, at the Wayback Machine
- Robinson, Peter (2006). "Interview with Forrest J Ackerman". Geekson.com.[permanent dead link] Retrieved August 18, 2006.
- King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Scribner 2000; ISBN 978-1-4391-9363-1, pg. 35
- McLellan, Dennis (December 6, 2008). "Forrest J Ackerman, writer-editor who coined 'sci-fi,' dies at 92". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 6, 2010. Retrieved December 13, 2008.
- Matthesen, Elise. "Vampires and Aliens." Lavender Lifestyles, November 24, 1995. Online copy Archived December 10, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- Brock, Jason V. (July 17, 2014). Disorders of Magnitude: A Survey of Dark Fantasy. Plymouth: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 24. ISBN 978-1-4422-3525-0.
- "Sci-fi superfan Ackerman dies at 92". United Press International. December 6, 2008. Archived from the original on May 24, 2011. Retrieved December 9, 2008.
Science fiction superfan Forrest Ackerman, founder of the influential U.S. magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland, has died at 92, a friend says.
- "Featured Content on Myspace". Myspace. Archived from the original on October 15, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
- "NameBright - Coming Soon". www.findingthefuture.com. Archived from the original on February 9, 2006.
- "Alden Lorraine Ackerman : Private First Class from California, World War II Casualty". www.honorstates.org. Archived from the original on February 2, 2022. Retrieved February 2, 2022.
- "Forrest J Ackerman Diploma". icollector.com. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
- "My well-meaning parents subjected me to 7 different Sunday Schools before I finally rebelled." Christopher M. O'Brien, The Forrest J Ackerman Oeuvre: A Comprehensive Catalog of the Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Screenplays, Film Appearances, Speeches and Other Works, with a Concise Biography (Jefferson NC: McFarland, 2012), 17. ISBN 9780786449842
- "Insight | THE ACKERMAN ENIGMA: The Strange Case of Forrest J. Ackerman by Paul Davids | unknowncountry". www.unknowncountry.com. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
- Schelly, Bill (2019). James Warren, Empire of Monsters. Seattle, Washington: Fantagraphics Books. p. 339-340. ISBN 9781683961475.
- "Forrest J Ackerman is slipping away". Aint It Cool News. November 3, 2008. Archived from the original on December 6, 2008. Retrieved November 7, 2008.
- these reports originated from a news article on the British Fantasy Society website; a correction was subsequently made. British Fantasy Society website Archived November 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- "Forry Ackerman: A Loyal and Staunch Friend". Comic-Con Souvenir Book #40 p. 215 (2009)C
- "Sci-fi's grand old man, Forrest J. Ackerman, dies". Associated Press. December 5, 2008. Archived from the original on December 8, 2008. Retrieved December 9, 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," had died. He was 92.
- Hatem, Cristina (July 12, 2023). "Forrest J Ackerman Papers Now Open for Research". Syracuse University News. Retrieved July 21, 2023.
- Disorders of Magnitude, p. 28
- World Fantasy Convention (2010). "Award Winners and Nominees". Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved February 4, 2011.
- "Inkpot Award". Comic-Con International: San Diego. December 6, 2012. Archived from the original on January 29, 2017. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
Additional biographies edit
- Forrest J Ackerman at IMDb
- Forrest J. Ackerman at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- "SFWA Obituary". Archived from the original on February 4, 2009. Retrieved August 13, 2011.
- 4e's Foyer: biography
- SFSite: Gary Westfahl's Biographical Encyclopedia
- Article on Ackerman's persona and life Archived February 4, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- Audio interview with Forrest J Ackerman
- Forrest J. Ackerman appears onstage at the 40th anniversary of "The Time Machine"
- Forrest J Ackerman Papers, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University
- Forrest J Ackerman Papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming
- Interview and shoot with Forrest J Ackerman, Bizarre Magazine Archived February 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- Roadhouse Film's Famous Monster documentary page
- Scientifilm Previews by Forrest J Ackerman
- "The Unfortunate Selling of Treasures," L.A. Times
- Works by Forrest J. Ackerman at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Forrest J Ackerman at Internet Archive
- Works by Forrest J Ackerman at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)