RIP, Forrest J. Ackerman

Science fiction fans do not need to be told who he was. Everyone else should go here. It’s a big loss for science fiction.

32 Comments on “RIP, Forrest J. Ackerman”

  1. “Famous Monsters” was a huge part of my childhood and adolescence. I met Forry just once, as an awestruck 14 year-old at the World Science Fiction convention in Boston in 1971. I’m sure I still have his autograph somewhere. He was charming and gracious, and even remembered me to say hello as we passed in the corridor a couple of days later.

    Somewhere, bats are weeping.

  2. And I’d recommend to all the documentary “SciFi Boys” which has some great interview footage with Forry (as well as Peter Jackson reminiscing about taking a train halfway across New Zealand just so he could get the latest issue of “Famous Monsters” as soon as it was available).

  3. I had never heard of Famous Monsters and his genre film associations the first time I saw him, at ConFrancisco in 1993. But I knew who he was through old anthologies that talked about sf cons. I was too shy to go up to him that day, but it was my first day at my first con and I knew I was in the exact right place.

    I was lucky enough to get a second chance when Erik Hoffman kindly introduced me to him at Baycon ’96.

    My friends and I will be raising a glass to him tonight.

  4. Can still remember the joy I felt when the new issue of “Famous Monsters” would appear in the drug store magazine rack. Never got to meet him, but he was an important part of my young life and introduced me to wonder and imagination.

    This is a sad day.

  5. I first learned about Ackerman in the back pages of the Perry Rhodan novels I devoured as a kid, where he often signed his essays with the moniker “Forry Rhodan.” His affection for the material, hokey as it was, was infectious.

    He was living proof of the old saying, “find a way to make a living doing what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

    I’ll raise a glass to him as well.

  6. Famous Monsters magazine! I remember reading in it about The Mummy. Once he saw you, man,that was it, he would never stop slowly walking towards you until he could get his bandaged hands on your neck and squeeze…
    Everyone I know that had the chance to talk with Mr. Ackerman says he was the nicest guy and a True Fan.
    Hey, how about a Forrie tribute project, his whole collection on one shiny disc.

  7. Well, all the “real” fans who carp on about how saying “sci fi” is the sign of a bona fide newb need to take off their hats and enjoy a moment of silence.

    I didn’t know of this man either, but am now humbled by the knowledge that he was one of the true fathers of “SF” culture, not to mention geek and pulp culture in general. The stories of him opening his home to others so they could enjoy his collection is especially moving.

    Postmodernist geek culture be damned–it’s already a tired phase and in need of going back to its roots. “Here’s to gods and monsters!” indeed. RIP.

  8. I visited his house once, in the mid-1980s, and stared in awe at his collection. He and his wife were genuinely gracious and welcoming to all these strangers trooping through their home. It’s still a lovely memory.

  9. Famous Monsters, Perry Rhodan and appearances in the occasional movie. I bought a tape of The Time Travelers (a great “B” movie) for his appearance in the film.

    Time to dig up the first Perry Rhodan novel as a way of thanking him for all the fun over the years.

  10. Famous Monsters of Filmland. Gonna go dig out my old copies tonight, and walk down nostalgia boulevard.

    Thanks for the memories, Mr. Ackerman.

  11. I believe he came to a con near Pittsburgh called “Monster Bash” where I heard him speak. I’m glad I went if only for that bit of important history. Ray Bradbury, whose career Forry helped (started?), is one of my favorite writers and one of my favorites to read out loud.

  12. His house sounds awesome and Ray Bradbury… amazing! I’m ashamed that I didn’t even know he existed. I suspect that makes me less of a science fiction fan.

  13. A truly sad day — Reading Forry in the back of those Perry Rhodan’s introduced me to so much in Science Fiction, that it wasn’t all Star Trek and Lost in Space, that it could be quite human, and quite humorous. Anyone remember the “shortest story in Science Fiction”?

  14. I’ve cross-posted this comment here from Wil Wheaton’s blog, but I do want to spread the word as broadly as possible as to how you all need to know what a class act Forry is.

    For decades, Forrest J Ackerman opened his private home every week for public tours of his literally overwhelming collection of sci-fi and horror memorabilia. He had a practiced patter and plenty of horrid puns worthy of the founding editor of Famous Monsters Magazine.

    A few years ago, Mr. Ackerman was hospitalized in serious condition. I had recently lost an inspirational college professor who I didn’t even know was hospitalized, so I made a point of traveling to see Forrest to deliver a rocketship-featuring get-well card.

    He looked bad. Really bad. He had spinal blocks in following a surgical procedure, a scar on his scalp, his partial dental bridge was out, his skin was ghastly pale, his hair was sickgreased, and his medically paralyzed body was arranged at odd angles within the tucked-in blanket. He literally looked like the bag of bones he was.

    And he was smiling at his visitors.

    He was telling his trademark corny jokes.

    He insisted I take a complementary copy of Cult Movies magazine, an issue for which he recently wrote a column.

    He was a gracious host even on what looked to be his deathbed.

    That amount of grace in a person is stunning to experience.

    You become very conscious of the air you walk through after such an encounter. He gave me proof of the possibility and ability of Human Grace firsthand. That’s the kind of good man he is.

    I am glad that in the subsequent years, and the last few weeks, he’s had additional opportunity to receive well-wishers and tributes to him personally as well as his legacy to the unifying, not bickering, aspects of fandom.

    I’m saddened he’s gone, but I’m glad he existed, as Ray Bradbury said of our purpose, “to witness and to celebrate.”

    RIP, 4sJ.

  15. He was a one of a kind.
    Smart, funny and kind.
    And a true pioneer in the sci-fi world.
    And I mean sci-fi–Once upon a time, I encountered a stone science fiction fan who ridiculed me for using sci-fi. I replied “If it is good enough for Forrest J Ackerman, it is good enough for me.”
    Then I had to explain to this dweeb that there was science fiction before Star Wars and who Forrest J. Ackerman is. I am sure Forry would have been kinder to the kid than I. But I could never claim to be a classy man like him.

    He will be missed.

  16. Rue Morgue magazine just did a pretty lengthy tribute to Forry two issues ago. You can probably still pick it up from their web site.

    ytimynona – don’t feel too bad. If you came in at a time when Famous Monsters wasn’t being published and Forry wasn’t getting much press, like the last 15 years or so, you probably would only have heard of him in passing and not known why he was important, or even that he was. Especially if you are a first generation fan – like myself.

    However, his importance cannot be overstated. Now that you know, go look him up. He was a fascinating man.

    RIP Forrest J Ackerman

  17. “Famous Monsters of Filmland” was as fundamental to my growing up as was Conan the Barbarian, Sherlock Homes, Edgar Allen Poe and HP Lovecraft.

    Now that I look at what I have written, it seems a bit frightening….

  18. All I can do is chime in with the rest of my contemporaries- with out “Famous Monsters of Filmland,” I’d probably have never discovered dozens of authors.

    I’m just glad that, unlike lots of other similar people, he was recognized within his lifetime.

  19. It’s a terribly sad day for me because Forry was the guy who made me realise that I wanted to work in museums when I was old enough way back in 1984. That’s the kind of guy he was. An amazing personality.

    I’m doing an issue of The Drink Tank about his effet on all of us next week.

    I did have one very nice exchange with him at WorldCon in 2006.

  20. As large as Ackerman’s collection was before illness forced him to sell stuff off, there was overflow, even as far back as the mid-1970s. One of the members of my local Star Trek club was the son of a librarian who worked in the rare book room (the George Arents Research Library) on the top floor of Bird Library at Syracuse University. She showed me a number of fascinating items from the collection, including a colored (crayon? I think so) drawing of Vincent Price in The Pit and the Pendulum. The late Richard Wilson had enticed Poul Anderson and other sf luminaries to donate their papers there, but Amy thought it worthwhile to show me some of Forry’s stuff specifically. She spoke of him with fond enthusiasm.

    Friend of mine were fortunate enough to stay overnight at his house in the 1990s, and an L.A. acquaintance knew him personally and professionally. But I think I only met him once. He was at some convention, being more or less ignored. He offered to let me interview him, but the fanzines I was editing were specifically about Doctor Who and Quantum Leap, and so I declined. I’ve kind of regretted this ever since.

  21. For me, Mr. Ackerman perfectly illustrates one of my favorite things about sci-fi: For all its looking forward, there is an almost equally endless horizon for backward exploring, too. I’m one of those who grew up in the Star Wars era, and for all that means, good and bad, it’s also what got me to take those steps back through time to Asimov and Silverberg and Simak and Bradbury and, naturally, Mr. Forrest J. Ackerman.


  22. Forry was probably one of the first SF “BN’s” that I ever met, back in the day. He was, to me, a charming gentleman and a wicked flirt. I flirted right back, and we laughed about the almost lost art of flirtation. When Forry was so dreadfully sick a while back, a request went out for cheering photos–especially those of pretty girls–and I sent one from a trip to the beach back in the day.

    I don’t know if Forry recognized me or not. I don’t care if he recognized me or not. I just hope it brightened his days.

  23. I was saddened to hear of his passing. 92 is a great run – and to die of a heart attack – ohmygod. But 92 years of Forry are not enough.

    I loved Famous Monsters, back-in-the-day. I’d still have my collection, if it hadn’t been for a flood.

    I love the fact that he attended the first World Sci-Fi Convention in 1939 & wore a space suit! Talk about a cool hall costume!,8599,1864854,00.html

    He preserved items which would have been trashed, that are now, literally, priceless. It will be interesting to see where it all goes. I hope his collection is preserved somehow. The Forrest J. Ackerman Movie Museum! That would be SO cool!

    Good night, sweet prince.

  24. An awful lot of Forry’s collection ended up at the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle when he had to divest himself of the original Ackermansion. Thank Paul Allen for that. I also think I remember hearing some scuttlebutt at the LASFS that much of the rest of Forry’s collection was headed that way on his passing (like his beloved statue of Maria from Metropolis). That may only be a rumor, but I hope that the stuff ends up where people can see it, which is what Forry would have wanted.

  25. Wow great post. Howewer i don’t think that you have absolute right in this. Can you more sppecific in a new post about this.

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