Forrest J Ackerman

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(November 24, 1916 – December 4, 2008)

Forrest J (he affected no period after the "J") Ackerman4e — was a fan (indeed, one of the founders of fandom), collector of books and movie memorabilia (he was called The Grand Aquisitor), magazine editor, science fiction writer, Esperanto enthusiast (using ktp instead of "etc"), and literary agent.

He was central to creation and growth of science fiction fandom. Famous for his word play, simplifyd spelng, and neologisms, he coined the genre nickname "sci-fi". In 1953, he was voted "#1 Fan Personality" by the members of the Worldcon, a unique Hugo Award never granted to anyone else.

He had a forest of nicknames: Fojak (from Esperanto), Mr Science Fiction (self-applied), #1 Face, FJA, Efjay, Efjay the Terrible, Ack-Ack, Wacky, 4e, 4sj and the J. Pen names included Erdstelulov, Mirta Forsto (with Morojo), Jack Erman, Claire Voyant and, possibly, Allis Villette.

He found SF when as a ten-year-old he saw the Frank R. Paul cover of the October 1926 Amazing. He became active as a fan around 1930. (See Aubrey MacDermott on the Origins of Fandom for a dubiously reliable report.)

He attended the First Worldcon in 1939, where he and Morojo wore the first "futuristicostumes" (a typical Ackermanism) and sparked fan costuming. He attended every Worldcon but two thereafter during his lifetime. He invited the very young Ray Bradbury to attend the Los Angeles Chapter of the Science Fiction League, later LASFS. He was not a founder of LASFS, but joined in its first year and became so active in and important to the club, that in essence he ran it.

He originated the Big Pond Fund, the first fan fund and was also active in the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) and was for many year its only lifetime member. He was West Coast Representative for Silvercon. (And, embarrassingly, he was a supporter of Claude Degler and effectively the only member of Degler’s Futurian Society of California and the Futurian Society of Los Angeles.) His publishing included the publishing houses dyktawo, Snafucius Pubs, and Fubar Pubs.

He was the editor and principal writer of Famous Monsters of Filmland, as well as an actor and producer (Vampirella). He and Wendayne also brought Perry Rhodan to the United States.

For many years, he served as a de facto agent for sf writers who were dead or couldn’t be located, allowing their stories to be reprinted and holding payments in escrow until heirs were located.

He accumulated an extremely large collection of science fiction, fantasy and horror film memorabilia, which he stored in a house and museum known as the "Son of Ackermansion." (The original Ackermansion was where he lived from the early 50s until the mid-70s.) The Ackermansion contained some 300,000 books and pieces of movie and science-fiction memorabilia. One of his attempts to deal with the accumulation was the Fantasy Foundation. He was a candidate for TAFF in 1956.

He was married to Wendayne Ackerman, whom he met in a Los Angeles department store where she worked as a clerk selling books. They married in 1949. After nine years of marriage, she and FJA divorced — but, after a brief hiatus, remained friends and companions, reconciling and remarrying in 1972. Forry and her son from a previous marriage, Michael Porjes, did not get along.

Belle Wyman, Forry’s grandmother, was also a LASFan.

He suffered heart problems in 1966, but recovered and on December 2, 1966, 185 people paid $5 each to attend a not-quite-a-surprise Birthday Dinner and Testimonial at the Hollywood Knickerbocker Hotel. It was organized by Walt Daugherty, Robert Bloch was toastmaster. Speakers included Ray Bradbury, Jim Warren, Guy Gifford, Carel Borland, A. E. van Vogt, Walt Leibscher and many others. He was presented with a plethora of plaques, trophies, scrolls and other stuff. The tradition of huge birthday celebrations continued and on November 21, 1986, there was a fan gathering called (in the best Ackerman tradition) 4E 2B 70.

Christopher M. O'Brien has written The Forrest J Ackerman Oeuvre, a comprehensive catalog of his writing.

Fanzines and Apazines:

He won the 1946 Best Fan Writer Retro Hugo at L.A.con III in 1996. In 1989, he wrote several reminiscences of Worldcons he had attended for the Noreascon Three program book:

He is the subject of a Founding Members profile by Jon D. Swartz in June, 2016 National Fantasy Fan (IA).

For an early biography, see Who's Who in Fandom 1940, page 3.

Awards, Honors and GoHships:

Links:



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