Famous Monsters #132 Pictures, Images and Photos

Remember that "sick of doing tribute posts" post a while back? Well, Forrest Ackerman's death, in the wake of Bettie's, was another one of those losses that was difficult to reflect upon in a tidy, snappy way. For generations upon generations, Forrest Ackerman WAS "fandom". The internet and all of the millions upon millions of blogs, forum arguments, flame wars, fan fiction... generally obsessing over imaginary realms as if they were real... are the product of Forrest J. Ackerman. Forrest was an agent, a producer, a publisher and a writer... but, in reality, he was a professional cheerleader for others, a professional booster of all things fantastical, be it conveyed through the written word, film, TV, magazines, comics or paintings. He published a magazine that is imprinted in the DNA of the "boomer" generation in a way that we, having benefited from more options in reading material, can't quite comprehend. The dude created the term "Sci Fi" (which old-school hardliners thought cheapened the genre and NBC/Universal/GE/Mom's Old Fashioned Robot Oil has just mutated into "Sy Fy".) Like Walt Disney, Forrest Ackerman created an amusement park... but his existed in our ever-expanding collective imagination. His gift to those who read and dream is incalculable... and it continues to grow, even as the memories of the man who's most responsible for fandom will fade. Spielberg, Lucas, the whole "Masters of Horror" gang, all were raised on Ackerman's unique take on the fantastict... a little fright mixed with a ton of fun. Now, artists as diverse as Joss Whedon to Zack Snyder to Rob Zombie owe their cross-platform mythologizing to Ackerman. And the AIN'T IT COOLs and the like flat out wouldn't exist without him. His irrepressible love of imaginative fiction, seen as fish wrap in his childhood, has created a society that, upon his death, views the fandom he organized and fostered, as the pillar of the multi-billion-dollar, global entertainment industry.

Which is all a way of teeing up Mike Richardson (that's Mr. Dark Horse Entertainment to you, pal) and John "Blues Brothers" "An American Werewolf in London" "Thriller" "Master of Horror" Landis' tributes to Ackerman.

(Free plug for Landis: His recent documentaries are amazing. Rent SLASHER about an alcoholic used car salesman, a dark-comic masterpiece, and watch his new documentary about Don Rickles, MR. WARMTH on HBO.)

Mike Richardson and John Landis on Forrest Ackerman 3/25/09

On Sunday, March 8, a tribute was held for Forrest J Ackerman. I, like many others, have stories to tell about the influence "Forry's" magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland, had on me as a youngster. It seems like only yesterday that my fifth-grade teacher, a nun, sent me home from school after she caught me carrying an issue (the one with King Kong on the cover) into class. Unlike John's parents in the tribute below, my mother simply asked me not to bring the magazine to school again.

I met Forry at the Ackermansion with artist Geof Darrow, in the first of several visits. He knew of Dark Horse at the time and was eager to be put on the comp list, something in which I was happy (and honored) to oblige him.

I saw Forry off and on for years. He was a special guest at a number of events I attended, including the grand opening of our Things From Another World store on Universal Studio's Citywalk. I always found him to be a gentleman and extremely gracious with his time. I last visited him a year or so ago at the Acker-mini-mansion with my friend John Landis. It was clear that Forry was not feeling well and I wasn't sure he even recognized me, but we had a great time talking about the magazine, the memorabilia located throughout his home, and, of course, movies. I'm sure that many shared my own feeling that a bit of my own life passed with him.

John Landis was a good friend of Forry's, and what follows is a shortened version of the tribute he delivered at the memorial service:

Like most of the people in this theater, when I was a kid I loved Famous Monsters of Filmland.

However, once my mother saw a photograph of a woman with an ax in her head in the magazine, my pile of issues was thrown out, and Famous Monsters of Filmland was banned from the house.

All was not lost though, because my cousin Scott subscribed and I could read them at his house.

The same way the original King Kong lit a flame in the young Ray Harryhausen in 1933, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad was the young John Landis's career epiphany in 1958.

When I was twelve years old, I wrote a fan letter to Harryhausen and mailed it care of Forrest J Ackerman at Famous Monsters of Filmland.

Forry actually forwarded the letter on to Ray in London and Ray sent me an autographed eight by ten glossy of him animating the dragon from The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad -- which is still framed and proudly displayed on the wall of my library at home.

In 1971 I wrote and directed my first feature film, the appropriately titled Schlock.

This sixty-thousand-dollar effort is most notable for two things: it was my first collaboration with the young makeup artist Rick Baker, and it is the reason I met Forrest J Ackerman as they say, "in the flesh."

Schlock's cast and crew screening was held at the Cary Grant Theater at MGM Studios in Culver City. Exactly how Forry got there I don't know, but after the screening he introduced himself to me in the parking lot in front of the Thalberg Building and also introduced the fellow he came with, Ed Wood!

Mr. Wood was absolutely astonished that I knew who he was and of the movies he had made. He was a sad shabby guy whose breath reeked of alcohol.

But Mr. Ackerman was more than gracious and not only invited Rick Baker and I to the Ackermansion, but kept his promise of publishing photos and an article on Schlock in his magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland. And this was a year before we managed to get a distributor!

The Ackermansion was then on Olympic Boulevard near La Cienega, walking distance to the Ships Coffee Shop, another Los Angeles landmark no longer with us.

Others today will speak of Forry's legendary accomplishments, his magazines, his influence on generations of writers and filmmakers, his extraordinary generosity, his countless viewing of Fritz Lang's Metropolis, his Al Jolson imitation and his mad crush on Marlene Dietrich, his time at nudist colonies, and his knowledge of Esperanto, his wide circle of friends, clients, enemies, admirers, acolytes and parasites.

For me Forry was a loyal and staunch friend and of course a fine actor in many of my films.

His patient and loving wife Wendy liked to recall the night that one of Forry's pulp author clients, L. Ron Hubbard, had them and a few others, over to his apartment to pitch a new religion he invented called Scientology.

Hubbard promised that it would make everyone assembled very rich, and Forry couldn't get out of there fast enough. Wendy appreciated her husband's integrity, but as she told me, "I always secretly regretted not getting in on the ground floor of that epic scam."

The Ackermansion duplex on Olympic moved to the Ackermansion in Horrorwood, Karloffornia, in that big house that once belonged to actor Jon Hall.

And finally to the classic small Hollywood bungalow where he held court in the Acker-mini-mansion where he ended his days. All places I remember with great affection. All places he opened to one and all for anyone to visit his treasures.

The motion-picture industry, the movie business, has always treated the ephemera of filmmaking as industrial waste. It is only because of fringe enthusiasts like Forrest J Ackerman, Bob Burns and Henri Langlois that many iconic props, costumes and manuscripts pertaining to film production exist at all. Yet another way Forry has blessed us.

My daughter Rachel still has the beautiful antique porcelain doll that Forry gave to her as a child after Wendy passed away. It was a prized possession of Wendy's and is beautifully dressed and carries a purse. Rachel immediately named her Wendy and discovered that Forry had put a silver dollar in that purse.

And when my then-ten-year-old son Max told him he wanted to read some science fiction, Forry sent over a cardboard box full of Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury paperback books. And I am proud to tell you that Max now makes a living as a writer.

And every year like clockwork, Forry would call my wife Deborah to wish her a happy Mother's Day.

Forry's embrace of Esperanto is typical of the true futurist and idealistic man he was.

Although he was extremely ill he told me he could not die until he voted for Obama for president and he did.

Forrest J Ackerman was a unique person, whose generosity touched us all. We are all better for having had Forry in our lives. I know I am.