The Associated Press reports that Forrest J Ackerman passed away in his Los Angeles home on Thursday, December 4, 2008. He had congestive heart failure and was preparing for the end at home where he could be happy, comfortable and surrounded by his friends. He was 92.
Forry was a Lifetime Active member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
Obituary in the Los Angeles Times.
Obituary in the London Guardian.
Forrest J Ackerman (Also Known As: 4E, 4SJ, Uncle Forry, Mr. Science Fiction) (born November 24, 1916). Agent, editor, writer, life long fabulous friend. Normally the phrase he is best known for & comes into a piece like this on a person’s life and loves. But, Forry is internationally loved and famous and best known for so many things that it would be hard to come up with just one.
He created the phrase “Sci-Fi” and coined several other terms. He did for the genre of SF and Horror what no one else could have done. He made it respectable. He inspired today’s film makers to recreate some of the best “B” movies and make them “A” list blockbusters.
Good friends donated to his collection. Books, movies, stills, magazines and screen props that he has collected since he was about 9 or 10 packed this show place, an amazing 300,000 pieces of memorabilia.
Ackerman’s private residence, an incredible 18 room mansion known as the Ackermansion, was called by the Smithsonian Institution one of the 10 best private museums in the country. Here are a few items: Ray Harryhausen donated the White House from Earth versus the Flying Saucer, Lon Chaney gave him the top hat and cane from London after Midnight, Bela Lugosi presented him with Dracula’s cape and ring, King Kong’s paw, the golden Idol that Indiana Jones stole in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Tribbles from Star Trek, and Yoda from Star Wars. Many others donated to his wonderful collection.
One of his favorite (if not his favorite) movies was Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Forry saw it over 100 times. The major focal piece in his living room, whose theme was Metropolis, was the larger than life size silver female robot, Maria, from the movie. He sold most of his collection to pay medical and legal expenses a few years ago, and moved into a smaller bungalow now called the Mini Ackermansion.
He attended the first World Science Fiction Convention in 1939 and wore the first costume to that convention. By my count has only missed 2 or 3 Worldcons. Forry also liked to do cameos in movies that his friends were making. He has done over 50 cameos and bit parts including Thriller with Michael Jackson, Amazon Women on the Moon, and Kentucky Fried Movie.
Forry didn’t just collect; he created. He authored and edited numerous books and magazines, He created Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine in 1958, and the character Vampirella. His stories of his life’s adventures were legendary, and his puns were fabulous. He once told me that he had read every last word in every book in his collection. When he got a new book for his collection, he would open it to the last page, and read the last word.
When he wasn’t creating or collecting he was promoting the creativity of others. Forry was the literary agent for over 200 of the most famous authors and artist of our time, including A.E. Van Vogt, Isaac Asimov, Hugo Gernsbach, Ray Bradbury and Hanes Bok. Forry had a love of words and language that included being fluent in the language Esperanto. His boundless energy for traveling to conventions and signings was awe inspiring. He won a Hugo in 1953 for #1 fan, the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award in 1974, and The Bram Stoker Life Time Achievement Award in 1997. He was on the board of the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle, and part of his collection is on display there. He has his hand prints and autograph in the sidewalk outside the Vista Theatre in Hollywood. In true Forry style he not only received awards but he created and and for many years presented the E. Everett Evans Big Heart Award yearly at WorldCon during the Hugo ceremony.
Forry married Wendayne, a charming German girl, and together they brought the Perry Rhodan series over from Germany in the 1960s. Wendayne translated them into English for publication by ACE. The series is still active. Wendayne passed away in 1990 after being mugged in Italy.
We can all be comforted with the fact that Forrest J Ackermans passion for SF and Horror has made all the lives that he has touched vastly richer. He is now the guest of honor at the great SF Convention in the sky, and he is with together again with his beloved Wendayne. Rest in Peace dear friend.
Joan Marie Knappenberger
President of First Fandom
I spent short or long periods of time with Forry several times over the years. The longest was when he was in town for a film festival and I got to be his chauffeur for 8 or 9 days. I heard many great stories (and still recall some of his puns), but even with spending several hours a day with him, there were only three or four times that it felt like he wasn’t “on.” That I was talking with the real man.
Years later when his health had deteriorated, he returned to Kansas City for the World Horror Convention and I was his liaison and chauffeur. When I drove him back to the airport we were talking about how good Joe Moe was at helping care for him. I told Forry that he was lucky to have Joe and said that since I was single and had no children, I wouldn’t have anyone one to look out for me when I grew older. Forry touched my hand and said “I will be there for you.”