Shoulders We All Stand On...
been to Comic-Con and you totally remember the thousands of
people wearing costumes. That’s because of a guy named
Forrest J. Ackerman who everyone called Forry. He wore a Space
Patrol costume to the first World’s Science Fiction
Convention, the first time anyone had ever worn a costume
at a con. It was made by his girlfriend, Myrtle Roberta Johnson,
who everyone called MoRoJo. Somehow, the whole thing of costuming
at conventions took off.
Ackerman has probably influenced more significant figures
in the history of science fiction and fantasy than anyone
other than Asimov and Heinlein. He was friends with Ray
Bradbury and Ray Harryhausen and both have cited him as
an influence (and I believe he published Bradbury’s
first story in one of his fanzines). He was an agent for
years and gave major boosts to the career of Marion Zimmer
Bradley. He even represented L. Ron Hubbard back when he
was only a hack adventure writer.
influenced a generation of film fans with his magazine Famous
Monsters of Filmland, which gave praise to those working
behind the scenes. Everyone from Steven Spielberg to Stephen
King have said that he was a major influence. Peter Jackson
was such a fan that he had Forry do a cameo in Dead
Alive. Both Joe Dante and John Landis had him appear
in several of their films. He even showed up in the Double-D
Avenger, which I’m sure has turned at least one
person into something special.
was a science fiction fan from the beginning of SF Fandom.
He was one of many who wrote to the science fiction magazines
of the day. With each letter, they’d publish the address
of the sender and he was the first to write a letter directly
to another writer and that helped give rise to modern fandom.
He wrote several fanzines and was one of the founding members
of the Las Angeles Science Fantasy Society, which still
exists today. He even loaned Ray Bradbury the money so he
could travel from LA to New York for the first WorldCon.
decades, Forry had a mansion in Los Feliz called the Ackermansion.
He threw many legendary parties. One of those parties saw
BJo Trimble meet her future husband John under the piano.
He threw a famous weekend-long birthday party for years.
mansion held a collection so wonderful that he would allow
just about anyone to come and take a tour. That tour represented
the only science fiction museum in the world at the time,
and when an actual science fiction museum opened up in Seattle,
he was on the Board.
included several of the animals used in King Kong
(which Peter Jackson scanned to help created his monsters
for his version), the ring Bela Lugosi wore in Dracula, a
False Maria (from Fritz Lang's Metropolis -- editor)
and too many more marvels to list.
there’s no much more. He translated and published
many Perry Rhodan novels in the US. He was a firm believer
in Esperanto and once walked down the street with Leo G.
Carrol singing the anthem of the language. He won the #1
Fan Personality Hugo in 1953. He was a tireless lover of
films, and a writer of stories. He was a man who would crack
a pun at the drop of a hat, and probably have another ready
for when it hit the ground. If you ever wanted to get an
idea about what it’s like to be a legend, read his
I’m crushed. He was one of the Five Old Men, the guys
I’ve always admired for their zines and writing. Harry
Warner Jr. was the first of them to pass; they’re
all in the 70s, 80s or 90s now, and Forry was the second.
a photo of a 9 month old me with my Dad and Forry at NASFiC
in 1975. The tour of the Ackermansion I took with Forry
and my family in 1984 was what got me thinking that being
around museums was a wonderful thing and when I last talked
to him face-to-face in 2006, I thanked him for it. He knew
my name, probably because he had been talking with a bunch
of my pals right before I came over.
“I hear you’re going to be me in fifty years.”
it’s more like 60, really.” I answered.
Forry Ackerman will be missed. He was 92.