Forrest J Ackerman

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(November 24, 1916 – December 4, 2008)

Forrest J (he affected no period after the "J") AckermanForry — 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, and literary agent.


Fan[edit]

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: 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 Dr Acula, Erdstelulov, Mirta Forsto (with Morojo), Jack Erman, Laurajean Emayne, 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 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, 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.

Pro[edit]

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.

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. 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.

Collector[edit]

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 p4.

Before his death, he was forced to sell much of his collection to meet medical expenses.

Personal Life[edit]

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 relationship with Morojo; he was so bitterly angry after their breakup that he barely spoke to her for the rest of her life.

In 1945, 4E publicly proposed marriage to Tigrina 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.

In 1949, Forry married Wendayne Ackerman, whom he’d met in a Los Angeles department store where she worked as a clerk selling books. 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.

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.

Along with his stfnal avocations, Forry was involved with the early mundane nudism movement.

More reading[edit]

About Forry[edit]

By Forry[edit]

Video Links[edit]

Fanzines and Apazines:

Awards, Honors and GoHships:



Person Reasonator 19162008
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