On November 24, 2006, we wish a Happy and Hearty 90th Birthday to Forrest J Ackerman, writer, collector, literary agent, former editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland, and ultimate fan of horror and sci-fi movies. (He coined the term “sci-fi,” for Cthulhu’s sake!) I plan to be out of town for the Thanksgiving weekend, so I am posting Bright Lights After Dark‘s contribution to the Forrest J Ackerman Blog-a-Thon a couple days early.
Like George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life, Forry’s life has touched many others. Let us count the ways …
Forry made liking monster movies respectable. Forry made writing about monster movies respectable. Forry also made collecting respectable. If you ever had the good fortune to visit the Ackermansion in its heyday, you would have seen a Charles Foster Kane-like collection of room after room filled with sci-fi and fantasy-related books, magazines, posters, statues, models, signed photographs (Forry knew everybody), and, not least, original art. Yes, there was at least one adult who really lived like this! And let’s not forget the endless cult-of-personality self-promotion – an inspiration to us all!
It wasn’t hard to see Forry or his house if you lived in Los Angeles. All you had to do was ask. (Usually by telephoning him at his old number, MOON-FAN). Forry was everywhere. At conventions. At book-signings. And, most often, at screenings of sci-fi, horror, and fantasy classics. I once telephoned him in connection with a science fiction screenplay I was attempting to market. He generously answered all of my questions, asking nothing in return except – maybe – if the film were ever made – could I find a part in it for him somewhere? Which I gladly would have done had the film ever been produced.
I’m not just referring to the fact that Forry is one of the few human beings alive who speaks Esperanto. Forry’s love of language – especially puns – permeated the pages of Famous Monsters and his other periodicals. Certain phrases of his will live forever in my memory. Referring to Carol Borland’s role as the Morticia-like “Luna” in Tod Browning’s Mark of the Vampire, he asked, “What Makes Luna Tick?” In his paean to The Creature From the Black Lagoon, Forry referred to the Creature as “neither Man nor Fish, but a hideous combination of both,” a language formulation (“neither X nor Y, but a hideous combination of both”) I have used ever since. He also coined a nickname for the Creature, “Blacky LaGoon,” as in: “They called him Blacky for short. But not for long.”
To echo a sentiment repeated in every issue of Famous Monsters – re Forry’s idol, Lon Chaney, Sr. – “Forrest J Ackerman Shall Not Die!”