Forrest Ackerman Dead at 92, Would Have Loved to be a Zombie

Sci-Fi legend, writer, collector, producer, agent and sometime actor Forrest J. Ackerman has died at the ripe old age of 92.  Ackerman was not only a fan of Sci-Fi from an early age, he actually created the term Sci-Fi after hearing an ad for a stereo system on the radio.

 Ackerman was a founder of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society and was credited with launching the careers of Ray Bradbury, Ray Harryhausen, Marrion Zimmer Bradley and many more.  He published stories under dozens of pseudonyms and created the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland

 He played small parts in over 200 movies (sometimes as a zombie or a victim for zombies) including President of the Earth in Amazon Women on the Moon.

Forrest, or Forry, was most well-known for his extensive collection of sci-fi memorabilia which filled his Hollywood hills home.  Every Saturday, Forry would open his house to allow fellow fans to see his collection.

I visited his home (the Ackermansion) about 15 years ago not knowing what to expect. The sheer quantity of stuff was amazing. Hundreds of thousands of books and magazines filled shelves, boxes and piles on the floor. Every extra piece of floor space had display cases containing movie props, masks and awards. The walls were covered with photographs, book cover and magazine paintings (most featuring nude women), and movie posters. Shelves full of books, awards and movie props lined every wall including the staircases.

An old-school Cylon was propped up in his living room next to tasteful Victorian furniture and his kitchen table held an impressive, overflowing mountain of unopened mail. The overall impression of the chaos was overwhelming but fascinating.

Walking down the stairs to his basement I turned around and noticed an Original Series Star Trek phaser and communicator just sitting on a shelf on the stairway. Any of these strangers could have just picked one up and left but there was a sense of great trust in the air.  He couldn't conceive that other fans would take advantage of him and he was right.

People wandered around the maze of hallways and rooms (including his own bedroom) on their own unguided tour, always respectful that they were in someone's house and occasionally running into Forry as he wandered about as well. A couple times I saw him grab an object from  a shelf with a smile (as if he just discovered it) and look around for someone to show it to.

Even though he had people in his house every week, he loved playing the host. He didn't tire of telling stories and wanted to show off his more obscure pieces. When he saw me trying to figure out what a sad looking stuffed creature was (sitting next to the robot from Metropolis) he grinned and showed me a frame from the original King Kong-- It was the remains of one of the dinosaur creatures from the movie.

Later after most people had cleared out he invited everyone to sit in his living room and he told stories about his days in the ancient history of Hollywood and quirks of his author friends.

He claimed one of his proudest moments was being cast as "President of the Earth" in Amazon Women on the Moon and told us of his grandfather who was involved in designing the Bradbury building (which was featured in Bladerunner). When someone sat down on a wooden chair he told them it was 150 years old and was made for Lincoln. He laughed when they quickly jumped up-- "No, no. Sit. That's what chairs are for!"

Forrest Ackerman was a generous, kind and trusting man who had a passion for both sci-fi and people. He pushed forward the genre in ways most fans don't understand or appreciate.  The world is a more entertaining place because of him.  We tip our zombie-splattered hat to you, Forry.  Thank you. .

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