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Saying Goodbye to Forrest J Ackerman





Forrest J AckermanIt's never easy to say goodbye to a legend. A man who gave his entire life to the genre that we love. That man is Forrest J Ackerman, and sadly he's slipping away as you read this.

Word of this sad news first broke this morning, and while I was getting set to write a story, I discovered that Harry at Ain't It Cool News had done it best and even provided us with a way to say goodbye.

From his article in its entirety:

Hey folks, Harry here ... I spoke briefly with Forrest J Ackerman earlier today, he wasn't sounding very strong, it hurt to hear his voice knowing that it wouldn't be here with us much longer. But at the same time, it was nice to say goodbye to one another.

Ackerman is one of the founders of my love of cinema. My father is the geek he is because of his magazine - and I'm the geek I am because of his magazine as well as the influence it had on my father. That magazine was, of course, FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. In speaking with Uncle Forry's caretaker, an amazing gentleman named Joe Moe, I was told that Forry was lucid, peaceful and not even on pain medication, but that he was progressively getting worse - and was ready to move on. However, he was wanting to say his goodbyes to as many of his neice and nephews that he has created in his almost 92 years on this Earth. His 92nd Birthday is this November 22nd.

I'm sure many of us can relate to Harry's words. God, I know I can. So tearfully and with a heavy heart ... say goodbye we must. From the same article:

Many friends of Forry have visited his bedside, hearing one last story, one last pun and to say one last goodbye. Ray Bradbury even flew to his bedside. We here at AICN are preparing a fitting memorial - and something, most likely, permanent to AICN. In the meanwhile - there is a chance for you to say your final goodbye, here's how...


I talked to Joe Moe, Forry's caregiver and best friend. He told me to spread the word about Forry. Forry is leaving us quickly. If youre going to write or call, do it now before it's too late. He's in good spirits and not in any pain or taking any meds. He did not have any heart attack or stroke. He is home resting comfortably, but his body is starting to shut down and he's sleeping alot now, hes very weak.

Even if you do what I did, just write "I love you" on a piece of paper and mail it, please do something if he touched your life in some way................joey OBrien

FORREST J ACKERMAN
4511 Russell Avenue
Los Angeles, CA
90027


We're gonna miss you, brother. God speed!

- Uncle Creepy

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Evil Alien's picture

Lets give thanks to Rue Morgue for the awesome October issue that highlights FJA and his Famous Monsters...


Submitted by Evil Alien on Wed, 11/05/2008 - 8:20am.
Chainsaw's picture

Indeed. Everyone top to bottom made the story of Uncle Forry pop off the pages.

And the only guy who I can think of that can come close to Forry's love of the magic of monsters is Guillermo Del Toro, but even he walks in Forry's shadows.


Submitted by Chainsaw on Wed, 11/05/2008 - 9:09pm.
Mr. Dark's picture

I had the honor of going on what was probably one of the final Ackermansion tours in 1999, before his health slipped and he stopped doing them, then was forced to give up the house and his collection.

To say it was amazing is an understatement. What was amazing?

Forry.

Forry is a walking museum of genre. Yes, he had an amazing collection of stuff (touching Lugosi's actual Dracula cloak was a -bit- of a thrill, of course) but the tour was really a walk down Forry's memory. This is a man who was there throughout most of the history of horror and science fiction. He was literally standing on the sidelines as Lugosi, Karloff, Cheney, and so many other greats did their thing. He didn't buy his collection, he lived it.

The Ackermansion tour always ended in his living room, with a view of Los Angeles out the large plate glass window. A small group of geeks had shown up that Saturday morning, and we spent what must have been about half an hour as Forry recited what must have been a long-memorized roll call of stories about some of the greats he'd know. These were personal tales, stories of the men behind the monsters. Lugosi's pride even when facing failing health and horrible addiction. Karloff's gentility and humor. Isaac Asimov's voracious and rampant sexual appetite. (It involved sliding across a hotel lobby on his knees and biting the backside of an attractive girl...likely with his glorious muttonchops blowing in the breeze.)

They were tales of his friends. Not because they were famous, although that mattered to us. No, he was telling these tales because he missed these men, his friends. He'd outlived them all.

I was able to speak to him at the end of the tour, have him sign a magazine for me. I told him how he was responsible for my first geek moment. In third grade, I talked my mother into mail-ordering a t-shirt of one of the covers of one of his magazines. Some nameless rotting zombie painting. I wore it to school and got sent home...for 'disrupting the class'.

It was the first time I ever got to be cool, and it was because of Forry and the magazines he wrote that I loved to read even when the movies they covered still gave me nightmares.

Forry Ackerman is absolutely irreplaceable. There will never be another, can never be another. That time is past. Even if the world had been wise enough to preserve his collection, it wouldn't really matter. They'd just be fabric, rubber, plastic...collecting dust.

Forry gave them life. He gave horror and sci-fi life. (Literally in the latter case, he coined the term sci-fi.) He is an amazingly kind, warm, and generous man who just wanted to share his love of the genre with anyone who would show up to spend time with him.

I'm not saying goodbye. He's not gone yet, and I don't have to, so I'm not. I'll just say that I love him, and I miss him.

Mr. Dark
Part-Time Dread Central Gaming Guy
Full-Time Freelance Smartass


Submitted by Mr. Dark on Wed, 11/05/2008 - 2:00am.
moorenoless's picture

I too once had the great pleasure years ago to visit the Acker Mansion (OMG, the basement, the basement!!), take the tour and then sit on the floor at 4E's feet and listen to him spin his great stories of friends long dead but so ALIVE in his mind and in the telling, and to return a few years later to see him at his home on Russell. I enjoyed a brief moment last Halloween in his living room while Bela was broadcasting from the TV screen and trick-or-treaters were stopping by for handfuls of candy. A small child walked in completely enveloped in a lime-green homemade spotted dinosaur costume. Forry had been resting and quietly watching the proceedings until that little one bumbled through the door. Forry's eyes lit up, he sat up, and that huge goofy grin spread across his face - he couldn't have been more delighted. And a very cool moment earlier this year when he, Bradbury and Harryhausen were all gathered together in Glendale for a signing - all three in one place at one time!

He is one of the most amazing men in the sci-fi world of wonders - funny, crazy, wildly mischievous and imaginative, generous, kind to a fault. I wish we could keep him forever. I'm sure he must have some inkling what an incredible influence he has had on thousands and thousands of people; so many folks have paid homage to him in films, books and by paying personal visits to his home. What a guy. WE LOVE YOU SO MUCH, DR. ACULA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Submitted by moorenoless on Wed, 11/05/2008 - 12:09pm.

Famous Monster was my life as a kid. And Forry was one of my first heroes. He, along with his pal Ray Harryhausen taught me how to dream, as corny as it sounds. New vistas of the imagination were opened in me by those two men.
I was an only child being raised by a single mother in a very low-income neighborhood back then, and the escape into the worlds of fancy that Forry and Ray exposed me to were invaluable to me.

It meant soooooo much.

I'm off to buy a card and write a letter.

We love you Forry!


Submitted by The Butcher on Tue, 11/04/2008 - 12:31pm.
DavidFullam's picture

Forry J. The Ackermonster. Ef Jay the Terrible. Dr. Acula. We will never, ever have another one like him. He wore his love of all things fantastic on his sleeve. He is, was, and will always be the ultimate fan. To say we owe him so much is a true understatement.

Forry, you loved monsters, I do too. You made me proud to do so. God bless, I will miss you so much. Thank you, you did it all for "us!"


Submitted by DavidFullam on Tue, 11/04/2008 - 11:19am.
NeoKefka's picture

Damn. I never really got to know the guy or his work but I could tell that he was a big deal. My heart goes out to his friends and family.


Submitted by NeoKefka on Tue, 11/04/2008 - 10:50am.
Gus Bjork's picture

I have wonderful memories of my dad picking me up copies of Famous Monsters at the drugstore even before I could read. I grew up absorbing monster movies at a time before dvds, vcrs and such when you took what you could get when you could get it.

I have no idea who he was as a person but it sounds like he was a generous and kind man. At least he never was unknown and during his lifetime he was able to have person after person tell him what he and Famous Monsters meant to them. He lived a long time, made these contributions that made life a little more enjoyable and was beloved by thousands and thousands. Who could ever wish for more than that?


Submitted by Gus Bjork on Tue, 11/04/2008 - 9:50am.
syd13's picture

I'd be lying if i said i knew very much about Mr. Ackerman. I'm too young (child of the early 80's) to have read any of his magazines, and I only really began to find out who he was thanks to the criterion dvd of Equinox. But its clear from the loving tributes he's received for years from those who knew him or benefitted from his work that, as Buz said, cinema as a whole is loosing a great friend. I've missed my chance to find out about this man while he was still with us. Its a sad thought.


Submitted by syd13 on Tue, 11/04/2008 - 9:30am.
The Buz's picture

We're losing all of cinema's greatest friends and allies. This really just isn't fair.


Submitted by The Buz on Tue, 11/04/2008 - 3:38am.
Chainsaw's picture

I hate that this is happening, I really do. Forry's had a great life, but saying goodbye is never easy. I am really hoping for a miracle here, maybe to at least celebrate his birthday, but I know it's probably not going to happen. But I'm not going to give up hope.

It's funny, but ever since reading the writeup in Rue Morgue, I've felt sad that there has been this great resource of horror that I have never visited, someone so trusting and friendly that every horror fan could feel welcome in his presence. And I was resolving to myself that I wanted to visit the Ackermansion, and say hi to Forry, and maybe get a story or two, and thank him for basically giving us horror on a platter. Without him, magazines such as Fangoria, Deep Red, and Rue Morgue would never have existed. Sure, someone may have eventually come up with the idea, but they wouldn't have done it with the flair, style, and love that Forry did it with. And without FMOF, many directors of this age may never have had the drive and spark to come up with some of our favorite movies.

I, sadly, was never a Monster Kid, as I was born in the Sci-Fi age of the 70's. So my discoveries of such wonders were belated. But I do remember, rather vividly, being over at my dad's friend's place, and his kids had tattered copies of Famous Monsters Of Filmland that I was more than happy to read, as I came up watching the Universal monsters on The Movies out of Syracuse's Channel 9. It was so much fun, even though I could only skim the issues they had. So, like Jovanka so eloquently put it in her NFTU this month, we became the Monster Grandkids. And now we are giving rise to the Monster Great-Grandkids. And it's all due to everyone who worked on Famous Monsters, but most importantly of all, Forry.

So, here's to you, Forry, the true King Of Monsters. I hope someday, we'll be able to spend an hour together, swapping stories of the past and dream of the future.


Submitted by Chainsaw on Tue, 11/04/2008 - 1:11am.
frank_dracman's picture

I'm in the same boat as Chainsaw, and I can't add much to what he so eloquently said. A product of the early 70's, I missed out on a lot. But over the years I've picked up the magazines and developed a respect and admiration for Ackerman. Wish I was born a little earlier, for the time of famous monsters has truly passed us by.


Submitted by frank_dracman on Tue, 11/04/2008 - 11:08am.

That's a wonderful, personal (and moving) tribute Chainsaw... I hope you get your miracle!


Submitted by PelusaMG on Tue, 11/04/2008 - 8:06am.

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