Forrest J Ackerman
(November 24, 1916 – December 4, 2008)
Forrest J (he affected no period after the "J") Ackerman — Forry — was a fan (indeed, one of the founders of fandom), collector of books and movie memorabilia (he was called The Grand Acquisitor), magazine editor, science fiction writer, Esperanto enthusiast, and literary agent.
He was central to creation and growth of science fiction fandom. Famous for his word play, simplifyd spelng, Scientificombinations 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: Foĵak (from Esperanto), Mr Science Fiction (self-applied), #1 Face, FJA, Efjay, Efjay the Terrible, Ack-Ack, Acky, Wacky, 4e, 4sj and the J. Pen names included Dr Acula, Erdstelulov, Mirta Forsto (with Morojo), Jack Erman, Laurajean Ermayne, Alden Lorraine, Claire Voyant, Weaver Wright and, possibly, Franklyn Brady and Allis Villette. He used publishing house names Snafucius Pubs and Fubar Pubs.
Forry 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. Bob Olsen was one of his first contacts. He belonged to the Eastbay Club. (See Aubrey MacDermott on the Origins of Fandom for a dubiously reliable report.) He was a founder of the Fantasy Fans Fraternity in 1933.
He was “Honorary Member No. One” of the Science Fiction League and one of its executive directors.
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.
In the early 1940s, he ran Assorted Services, introducing fan publishers to lithography.
He held the first two Staplecons in 1943. He belonged to FAPA and was part of its Order of Dagon. He was Pogo’s right-hand man in the Sacred Order of FooFoo.
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 years its only lifetime member. He was West Coast Representative for Silvercon and of Neofund.
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. Later, he was on the board of the disastrous WSFS, Inc. He feuded with Rog Phillips over the Shaver Mystery and other Palmerisms (see Graham-Ackerman Feud). He was a candidate for TAFF in 1956 and 1957, but didn’t win.
LASFS bestows the Forry Award in his honor; they gave him one in 2002. He administered the Big Heart Award for 40 years, until 2000; he received the award in 2006, and it was renamed the Forrest J Ackerman Big Heart Award from then till 2018.
He continued attending conventions until the last years of his life.
He was the editor and principal writer of Famous Monsters of Filmland, as well as an actor and producer (Vampirella). He and his wife, Wendayne, also brought Perry Rhodan to the United States.
He wrote a film column for Imaginative Tales.
Ackerman edited Womanthology (2003), a collection of stories by female writers.
In 2004, he co-authored Worlds of Tomorrow with Brad Linaweaver, a hardcover coffee table book that spotlights SF cover art from the Golden Age with full color reproduction and commentary from the authors.
He was a literary agent, and many L.A. writers were clients of The Ackerman Fantasy Agency. Famous clients included Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, A. E. van Vogt and L. Ron Hubbard. For many years, Ackerman 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 houses-cum-museums in Los Angeles known as the Ackermansion and Son of Ackermansion. He regularly opened them to visitors. The original, where he lived from the early 1950s until the mid-70s, 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.
In addition to genre materials, he had other collectible items, including a chair that had belonged to Abraham Lincoln.
Starting in the late ’70s or early ’80s, Ackerman tried to turn his collection into a public museum, ultimately without success. One attempt is narrated in File 770 38, p. 4.
He later downsized to a “mini-mansion” at 4511 Russell Ave., still holding open house every Saturday. Before his death, he was forced to sell much of his collection to meet medical expenses.
Forry was the son of Carroll Cridland Wyman (1883–1977) and William Schilling Ackerman (1892–1951). Belle Wyman, Forry’s grandmother, was also a LASFan, and his grandfather George H. Wyman seems to have been at least tangentially involved. He had a younger brother, Alden Ackerman, who died in battle during World War II. His cousin, Henry Andrew Ackerman, was a fan, too.
In the 1930s and early ’40s, Forry was in a romantic relationship with Morojo (Myrtle Douglas), whom he met in an Esperanto class; he was so bitterly angry after their breakup that he barely spoke to her for the rest of her life.
In the summer of 1942, 4E was — to his dismay — classified 1A (available for military service) but remained in his beloved Shangri-LA during World War II, editing Fort MacArthur's newspaper.
In 1945, 4E publicly proposed marriage to Tigrina (Edythe Eyde) in a letter in Walt Dunkelberger’s Fanews 166 (June 19, 1945). In #170, on July 3, Tigrina declined. Dunk avowed both letters were legit. 4E and Tigrina remained lifelong friends.
In 1947, she began publishing the first known lesbian publication in America, Vice Versa, a carbonzine (online here). Supportive of her alternative lifestyle, Ackerman wrote reviews and butch fiction for the zine under the name “Laurajean Ermayne,” a pseudonym he also used elsewhere. In a 1995 interview, Eyde said:
Well, there was this one guy who was very sympathetic toward the girls, and he belonged to the science fiction group where Jim Kepner belonged, and his name was Forrest A_______. So he would — he liked writing for different homemade magazines of the science fiction kind. In fact, I think he had one or two of them himself. And so he would write off this stuff and give it to me, and then being that he was a friend, I sort of had to include it in the magazine — which I really, to tell you the truth, didn’t want to do, but don’t say that in your book because if he reads it, it will hurt his feelings. And he’s older than I am, and he’s a dear old soul — I don’t want to hurt his feelings.
In 1949, Forry married Tilly Porjes, whom he’d met in a Los Angeles department store where she worked as a clerk selling books. He renamed her “Wendayne Mondelle.” 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.
He suffered heart problems in 1966, but recovered.
Along with his stfnal avocations, Forry was involved with the early mundane nudism movement.
Ten years after Ackerman’s death, author Lucy Chase Williams stated that Ackerman groped her on multiple occasions.
In November 1958, Forry-FortyTwo Con was held to celebrate Forry’s 42nd birthday. 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 on November 21, 1986, with a fan gathering called (in the best Ackerman tradition) 4E 2B 70.
- Entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.
- Bibliography at ISFDB.
- Early biography in Who's Who in Fandom 1940, page 3.
- Brief biographical sketch by James Kepner, Shangri-L'Affaires 23 (February 1945, p. 18).
- Forry: The Life of Forrest J Ackerman.
- Mr Monster: A Tribute to Forrest J Ackerman.
- Christopher M. O'Brien’s The Forrest J Ackerman Oeuvre, a comprehensive catalog of his writing.
- Founding Members profile in June, 2016 National Fantasy Fan.
- “Welcome to his planet” (Los Angeles Times, January 06, 2003).
- Ackermansion photos.
- Papers at Syracuse University.
- Papers at the University of Wyoming.
- Papers at Eastern New Mexico University.
- Obituary in Los Angeles Times.
- “It’s Alive! Former Ackermansion in Los Feliz Reborn as Luxe Home” by Lisa Johnson Mandell, realtor.com, February 21, 2018
- Website (archived).
- Con report on Nycon II
- “Through Time and Space with Forry Ackerman,” a series of articles in Mimosa.
- “Esperanto,the Universalanguage.”
- 1989 reminiscences of Worldcons he had attended, from the Noreascon Three program book:
- Audio interview with Richard Lynch, 1996.
- Documentary on Ackerman.
- Video tour of the Ackermansion.
- Video tour of the Ackermansion.
- “The Genie.”
Fanzines and Apazines:
- 1940 Yearbook of Science, Fantasy & Weird Fiction (as Franklyn Brady)
- 1948 Fantasy Annual
- Ackermaniac Presents Hoffmania 
- The Alden Press
- Amazing Forries
- Baroque Bagatales Brobdignagian
- Black and White
- A Checklist of Fantasy Magazines
- The Damn Thing (with T. Bruce Yerke)
- The Fanzine Yearbook  (with Bob Tucker and others)
- Get Them Out on Time
- Hollerbochen Comes Back 
- I Bequeath 
- I Remember Morojo
- Imagination!  (some issues)
- In Memoriam: H. G. Wells, 1866 - 1946  (with Arthur Louis Joquel II)
- Madge's Prize Mss.
- Madman of Mars (for FAPA)
- The Meteor
- Outlandi 
- Polaris: Paul Freehafer, The Good Die Young
- Presenting -- Adam Singlesheet
- Rahuun Ta-Ka
- Science Fiction -- Hobby or Duty? 
- VOM (and the VOMbozine)
- Vomaidens Portfolio
- The War Lock  (for FAPA)
Awards, Honors and GoHships:
- 1941 -- Denvention Medal
- 1951 -- Festivention
- 1953 -- 1953 #1 Fan Personality Hugo
- 1957 -- LASFS Testimonial Banquet
- 1968 -- Order of St. Fantony
- 1971 -- Alberta Science Fiction Society Open House
- 1972 -- Evans-Freehafer Trophy
- 1974 -- Lunacon 17, First Fandom Hall of Fame Award, Inkpot Award
- 1975 -- Equicon '75
- 1976 -- Rhocon I, Equicon '76
- 1977 -- Clayton Con, Fantasy Faire VII, HBHS Minicon
- 1979 -- The Fantasy Symposium
- 1980 -- Kubla Khan Ate
- 1981 -- Toastmaster at Chattacon VI
- 1982 -- Atlanta Fantasy Fair 1982
- 1984 -- Tropicon III, Loscon Eleven, R-Con
- 1986 -- OKon 9
- 1987 -- VCON 15
- 1989 -- MileHiCon 21
- 1990 -- Toastmaster at DeepSouthCon 28
- 1991 -- Norwescon XIV, Rovacon 16, Baycon '91, ForryCon, Life, the Universe, & Everything 9
- 1992 -- Baycon '92
- 1994 -- Rivercon XIX, Marcon 29, Contex 12, Gaylaxicon 1994 special guest
- 1995 -- Raymond Z. Gallun Award, Marcon 30
- 1996 -- Archon 20, Baycon '96, First Fandom Hall of Fame award, 1946 Best Fanzine Retro Hugo, 1946 Best Fan Writer Retro Hugo
- 1997 -- Conquest, Bram Stoker Lifetime Achievement Award
- 1998 -- ICON 23, Con*Cept '98
- 1999 -- Sam Moskowitz Archive Award, toastmaster at Archon 23
- 2002 -- Astronomicon 2002, Forry Award, World Fantasy Convention Lifetime Achievement Award
- 2003 -- Julie Award
- 2006 -- Big Heart Award
- 2014 -- 1939 Best Fanzine Retro Hugo
- 2018 -- 1943 Best Fan Writer Retro Hugo
- 2019 -- 1944 Best Fan Writer Retro Hugo
- 2020 -- 1945 Best Fanzine Retro Hugo
|This is a biography page. Please extend it by adding more information about the person, such as fanzines and apazines published, awards, clubs, conventions worked on, GoHships, impact on fandom, external links, anecdotes, etc. See Standards for People and The Naming of Names.|