Forrest J Ackerman

Discussion in 'The Observation Bar' started by mike, Nov 4, 2008.

  1. mike

    mike Call Me a Cab

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    The following was forwarded to me, i have to pass it on. He's led a wonderful life and inspired an unimaginable amount of people, in many ways shaping the future he dreamt of. One of the absolute kindest men I've ever met. I spent a lot of time with him while shooting a documentary on his life. I hate the idea of him not being here anymore. Anyway, here's the message...

    "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 you're 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 "
     
  2. dhermann1

    dhermann1 I'll Lock Up

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  3. Feraud

    Feraud Bartender

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    Thanks for posting that Mike.
    When I hear the name Forrest J. Ackerman I think of Famous Monsters magazine and those distinct covers.
    The least some of us horror fans can do is send a simple "thank you" for the great memories his magazine inspired.
     
  4. skyvue

    skyvue Call Me a Cab

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    In 1992, I traveled cross-country for four months. I went to all 48 contiguous states and traveled the entire length of Route 66. But one of the highlights of the entire trip was my visit to the Ackermansion.

    I had heard one could just call Forry up, and if the timing was right, he'd welcome a visit from you, and that's just how it turned out. He was busy during my visit, so we didn't spend a great deal of time chatting, but he gave me free rein to look through his amazing collection of memorabilia (I'm sure that it wasn't the entire collection that was on display, but there was plenty there to keep me happy).

    Here's what I wrote about it at the time:

    On Monday morning, I had an appointment about which I was very excited. When I was a kid of 11 or 12, I read two magazines regularly, MAD Magazine and Famous Monsters of Filmland. FM was a light-hearted and loving look at the classic horror and sci-fi films of yesteryear, and it also kept its readers up to date on any current releases in those genres. It contained puns a-plenty, most concocted by its editor-in-chief and guiding spirit, Forrest J. Ackerman. Forry had loved these films since he was a lad and knew how to entertain a new generation of youngsters who also loved ghouls, goblins, and things that go bump in the night.

    Famous Monsters is no more, but not so Forry. He's still alive and kicking, as busy as ever, it seems. I had heard that he occasionally opened his home to fans, so that they could enjoy his vast collection of memorabilia. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I looked him up in the white pages and gave him a call.

    After hearing his pun-filled answering machine message (he hasn't lost his touch), I began to explain who I was and why I was calling, hoping he'd return my call and grant me a visit. While I was speaking, he picked up the phone, asked me a bit about myself, and before I knew it, I had an appointment for 11 o'clock this morning.

    He lives in the Hollywood Hills, near Griffith Park, in a nice house with a great view. After exchanging a few pleasantries, he left me alone to wander through his collection. He owns the ring and cape Bela Lugosi wore in DRACULA, the claw that became detached from THE THING in the course of that picture, numerous life masks of famous horror stars, Lon Chaney's makeup kit, the initial model of the Ymir from 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH, a mask from INVASION OF THE SAUCERMEN (pictured below) and much, much more.

    Forry was a gracious, if busy, host, willing to answer my questions when they arose. It was a kick to meet Mr. Ackerman, someone who was an integral part of my youth. We posed for a picture together (see below), chatted a bit more, and I was on my way. Before I left, Forry provided me directions to my next stop which was right there in his neighborhood.

    It's an old home a little further up in the hills called the Ennis-Brown House. Why did I want to see the house? Because it has a great view overlooking Hollywood? It does, but that's not why. Because it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright? Nope. Wright did design the house, but there's a better reason. No, I wanted to visit the Ennis-Brown house because it was featured in the William Castle classic, THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL. Now, that's a reason to go see a house.​

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  5. Bassman

    Bassman A-List Customer

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    Those were my two regular reads as a youth also.;)
     
  6. Fletch

    Fletch I'll Lock Up

    I remember reading something he wrote where he said that one of the great regrets of his life was not sleeping with June Preisser.
    [​IMG]
    You remember her. She was the ootsy-cutesy 2nd female lead in all those B-pictures about high school kids, with a body like a Greek goddess and a voice like a candy-apple toothache.
     
  7. Slim Portly

    Slim Portly One Too Many

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    The Ackermonster! What an amazing man. Even though I lived within driving distance of him most of my life, I could never bring myself to call and ask for a tour of his house. Growing up in the Los Angeles area where it is common to be standing in line at the deli next to a movie star or riding on a stationary bike at the gym along side of a recording artist, one becomes very aware of celebrity and the price that one pays for it. I of course never heard anything to suggest that the man was ever less than a gracious host, but my practice has always been to treat celebrities of any stripe like endangered animals: enjoy what they have to offer from a distance, and disturb them as little as possible.

    I was fortunate enough to attend the release party for his virtual museum CD-ROM many years ago, and I tucked away a memento or two from that evening in a box that no doubt is buried in a forgotten corner of my garage.

    Mr. Ackerman is by all accounts a singularly amazing individual, someone who has taken it upon himself to conserve unique memorabilia from the golden age of Hollywood fantasy and science fiction. His gift to the genre has been his life's work.
     
  8. mike

    mike Call Me a Cab

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    I subleased my apartment in NY a few years ago to shoot a film on him. I lived on a friends couch in LA to hang around with him for a solid winter and visited him many times when I moved to LA for a few years.

    One of my favorite memories of him, is us going out to lunch one afternoon. There is a thai place across the street from his house which we walked to. I took one look at him, grabbed him by the shoulder and said "Forry, is this what you want? Are you fit to be thai'ed?!" To which he looked at me, raised his fist and shook it at the sky and proclaimed, "Thai one on me!" HAHA he's still got it!

    We also got to go into the Ackermansion after he moved out and he gave me a phantom tour of what used to be displayed in this hallway and what many of the rooms were dedicated to; the frank r paul wall, garage mahal, grislyland, etc etc... it was very sad but an incredible experience.

    One time, I picked him up to see a screening of Merian C Cooper's 1935, SHE that was cohosted by Forry and the two Rays (Bradbury & Harryhausen) Forry serenaded my ex-girlfriend with Al Jolson songs for the entire car ride there and back!

    Here is Forry in 1939, at the 1st World Science Fiction Convention in NYC (which coincided with the '39 World's Fair) dressed as Raymond Massey from Things to Come...
    [​IMG]
    and a few more over the years...
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Feraud

    Feraud Bartender

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    How did the film go Mike?
     
  10. mike

    mike Call Me a Cab

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    I feel sick to my stomach that it's not done yet :(

    I have a list of reasons, but they all just feel like excuses. (sorting out life, love, career etc...)

    I am editing it with a friend presently though. But I really wanted him to see it.

    The point of my film isn't a list of who he's met and how much cool stuff he had, that's been done. But rather what shaped him as a child; a study of a lonely little kid that would write penpals all over the world to connect with anyone who was excited about a "new" HG Wells story they just read. He reached for the stars, he knew we were going to the moon decades before it was a reality and grew up being made to feel like he was wrong for thinking humanity could rise to the occasion. What his family life was like with his unsupportive father. His wife being murdered. The rights of Famous Monsters Magazine being stolen from him and having to sell his mansion and most of his life long collection to fight it in court. But most importantly, in the face of hardships, how he was able to maintain a direct connection to his sense of wonder and never let life break him. "Up up and away with Forrest J..!"

    Oh, and Vampirella :p
     
  11. Blackjack

    Blackjack One Too Many

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    Did that Ferry/Forry thing ever get resolved? We did some music for the Doc "American Scary" and I think he's got a part in that....(I think). If so it might be the last film work of his. Swell guy though, sat with him for a while at a con.
     
  12. Doh!

    Doh! One Too Many

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    I was a long time subscriber of FM as well, and had the good fortune to take a guided tour of the original Ackermansion awhile back. Forry could not have been a more gracious host.

    I wish him well.
     
  13. mike

    mike Call Me a Cab

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    Long story, short version - no
     
  14. mike

    mike Call Me a Cab

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    I have heard reports that Forry has passed away.

    I haven't confirmed it, I don't want to bother his wonderful assistants.
     
  15. Feraud

    Feraud Bartender

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    Please keep us updated Mike.
     
  16. mike

    mike Call Me a Cab

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    An update, the prior information was incorrect as of today, he's very weak but still upbeat and joking around!
     
  17. Mike in Seattle

    Mike in Seattle My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    It just popped up on my start page that Forry died yesterday.
     
  18. The Captain

    The Captain One of the Regulars

    So long, Forry.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Doh!

    Doh! One Too Many

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    So long, Forry. "Beast Witches" to your family and friends.

    :(
     
  20. Dexter'sDame

    Dexter'sDame One of the Regulars

    An L.A. legend even with those of us not into horror flicks

    R.I.P. Mr. Ackerman.

    I'm not into horror flicks but had tremendous respect for his collection and his knowledge of the genre...and especially for the fact that he wanted to preserve those historic bits of Hollywood. It always amazed me that he was generous enough with his collection to let complete strangers see it by appointment.

    Even to people who grew up in Los Angeles but weren't particularly taken by the horror genre, Mr. Ackerman was a true legend, and we all knew where his famous house was. I can't imagine Los Angeles without him.
     

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