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RevolutionSF Remembers Forry Ackerman
© RevolutionSF
December 07, 2008

Forrest J. Ackerman was a writer, editor, and literary agent in the golden age of science fiction. He was a sci-fi convention staple for decades, a genial old guy in a loud leisure suit. He is credited with coining the term sci-fi, for which Harlan Ellison wished him a "long and ignominious death." Here's a Geekson podcast interview.

* * * * *

I'm glad I got to meet him at DragonCon a few years ago. Hearing him was a blast. His stories about Asimov, Bradbury, the really early days of fandom deserve to live on.

The man was fandom. He attended the first World Science Fiction Con in 1939, and wore the first ever fan costume there. He personally saved all the equipment from the original Frankenstein flick. He was personally responsible for publishing and giving a start to legends Bradbury, M. Z. Bradley, L. Ron Hubbard, Asimov. He was Ed Wood's agent. He was friends with Heinlein, Harryhausen, and just about every other writer of that era.

His home was a museum of sci-fi and horror memorabilia, and he let anyone who wanted come and look at everything. He was a board member of the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, and he gave them a lot of items from his collection. He created fanzines, several small press outfits, wrote stories, edited anthologies, produced movies, and came up with the name for horror icon Vampirella.

His magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland was responsible for the careers of just about every director in Hollywood. It inspired Spielberg, Landis, King, Lucas and I wish it was still in print.

One of the stories he told that I loved was about a con he attended with Asimov.

They were in an elevator, and when the doors opened, across the room they could see a girl in a skimpy costume selling cigarettes. Her back was to them, and Forry said: "This legend of Science Fiction, creator of the Foundation series, ran across the room, dropped to his knees and slid on the floor up to the girl . . . and he bit her on her foundation!" -- Gary Mitchel

* * * * *

Around 2000, I was writing a news story about Ackerman, who was in the middle of a court case that got national attention. Celebrities testifyied on his behalf, including sci-fi writers and Gene Simmons. I called to try to set up an interview. Forry answered his own telephone. The court case had hit the wire, and made national TV news, and the guy still answered his own phone.

He said, sounding exhausted, "I can't believe this is happening to me." And then he rambled for about 15 minutes about his collections of stuff and sci-fi history. I just let him talk. -- Joe Crowe



 
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