RIP, Forrest J Ackerman

RIP, Forrest J Ackerman, the pioneering science fiction fan, editor and writer who coined the term "sci-fi" and founded Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. 4e left the party on December 4, at 92, after a long illness. of heart failure at home at the legendary Ackermansion in Los Feliz in Los Angeles.

Among those who grew up reading Famous Monsters of Filmland was author Stephen King. Other childhood readers included movie directors Joe Dante, John Landis and Steven Spielberg, who once autographed a poster of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" for Ackerman, saying, "A generation of fantasy lovers thank you for raising us so well."

Ackerman was a celebrity in his own right, once signing 10,000 autographs during a three-day monster-movie convention in New York City.

This, after all, was the man who created and wrote the comic book characters Vampirella and Jeanie of Questar and was the ultimate fan's fan: a man who actually had known Lugosi and Karloff and whose priceless collection of science-fiction, horror and fantasy artifacts ran to some 300,000 items.

Forrest J Ackerman, writer-editor who coined 'sci-fi,' dies at 92 (Thanks to all the readers who suggested this!)

(Image: Forrest J Ackerman at the Ackermansion.jpg by Alan Light, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

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  1. He also contributed uncredited as a writer for one of my favorite flicks, ‘Mad Monster Party?’

    Ackerman was the prototype.
    Let’s hope there are enough latex ghouls in Heaven to keep him happy.

    -T

  2. In addition to knowing Lugosi and Karloff, he had a connection to H.P. Lovecraft. At first they didn’t get along, and there are a few things in the story In the Walls of Eryx that may be digs at Ackerman (efjeh-weeds and wriggling akmans), but their relationship later improved.

    I’m not sure if they ever met in person: their relationship may have been conducted entirely over the mail.

  3. I still have some Famous Monsters of Filmland issues in a box somewhere. Ackerman was one of the original truefans.

    It’s funny, I was watching the DVD commentary for Tim Burton’s great film, Ed Wood, yesterday. And they brought up how Forry hated Martin Landau’s profane portrayal of Lugosi. Ackerman claimed that Bela would never have used such foul language. Me, I think Landau’s performance is genius, and the rant about him not being Karloff’s sidekick was one of the biggest laughs in the movie.

  4. I am so sorry to hear this. Forrie’s magazine pretty much saved my life back in the suburban dead zone I grew up in – and fueled a thirst for great cinema thereafter. I’m sure he had similarly profound influence on many others.

    Many thanks, Mr. Ackerman.

  5. …You know, after hearing Forry was dying ever since 1992, the fact that he’s now gone just hasn’t seeped in. It may *never* seep in, because someone as lovable as Forry just -can’t- die. Which is probably why Scott Shaw! might just get his way and have Forry stuffed, mounted and hauled out to conventions with a recording of his 12 best stories playing in an endless loop.

  6. By chance, I was in a comics store today, and was looking at the newer magazines on the rack, and I remembered how I always looked for Famous Monsters of Filmland in the old days – I wondered how Forrie Ackerman was doing not two hours ago, as I hadn’t heard anything lately, and I come home to this. Damn, this is sad news. I was secretly proud of having him make a little fun out of my name, back when I was a kid. He had the effing coolest house, ever.

  7. I know everyone says he coined sci-fi, but he didn’t. Robert Heinlein used it earlier in 1949. Check out the Hugo Award-winning sci-fi dictionary “Brave New Words” by Jeff Prucher for the details.

  8. As Gordy Dickson said not long before he died, when everyone is gone who remembers a world without science fiction, the field will be a different place.

    Grant @10, I’m not surprised. Nobody wanted to make a big public fuss about it, but Ackerman’s official bio accumulated fictions in his later years. For instance, the first fanzine in which he was published (The Time Traveller, 1932) was not the first fannish fanzine ever published, and no one’s ever thought it was. (That honor belongs to Ray Palmer’s The Comet, 1930; and if not to The Comet, then to Allen Glasser’s The Planet, also 1930.) He did help found LASFS, but the N3F was originally founded by Damon Knight and Art Widner, plus members of the Stranger Club in Boston. He didn’t singlehandedly invent fannish costuming, and he certainly didn’t invent cosplay. Et cetera, long list, and this is not the time to rehash it.

    It was silly of him. He already had impeccable fannish credentials. That’s a fact that no one has ever doubted. The other thing no one’s ever doubted is how much he loved science fiction.

    Jeff Prucher’s Brave New Words is a great piece of work — thoughtful, inclusive, judicious, and astonishingly accurate. Everyone who’s interested in the history of science fiction and the sf community should own a copy.

  9. Ah darn :( He was a nice guy. He was at at least a couple of the World Horror Conventions I attended, and he was good company.
    DARN.
    May his spirit dwell forever in our hearts.

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