Forrest J. Ackerman 1916-2008
If not for Forrest J. Ackerman — Uncle Forry — I probably wouldn’t be the horror fan that I am today. Oh, I know. I’m much too young to have grown up reading Famous Monsters of Filmland. At that magazine’s height, the Monster Kids who grew up reading it depended upon it to feed their need for monsters. I grew up in an era where I could just run down to the local video store and find pretty much any movie I wanted. But these guys… they had to work for it.
And that’s where Uncle Forry came in.
Guys like John Landis, Joe Dante, Rick Baker. They would’ve never turned out to be the filmmakers that they were if not for Forry. Hell, Gene Simmons credits the creation of KISS with his obsession with the monsters that he found in Famous Monsters of Filmland. Can you imagine a world without An American Werewolf in London? Without Gremlins? Without “Rock and Roll All Night?” I can’t. And thankfully, Forrest Ackerman made sure that wasn’t a reality that we’d have to face.
Ackermann didn’t create Famous Monsters. But as the editor, he turned the magazine into something so much bigger than anything else out there like it. He was the mad genius behind the curtain, but one that wasn’t afraid to come out, to meet his fans and to even go so far as to open his house — the Ackermansion, an estate that he filled with priceless film memorabilia that he’d collected over the years — to anyone who wanted to visit. All you had to do was call.
Forry’s charm and the wonder that he cultivated motivated his readers, those Monster Kids, to create their own monsters. It’s safe to say that, without his influence, the horror landscape would be much different today, and for that I’m personally, eternally grateful.
Forrest Ackerman celebrated his 92nd birthday just a couple of weeks back. On Thursday, he died of heart failure at his home in Los Angeles.