Forry at Cortlandt Hull's home, reading his favorite magazine & wearing the Dracula Ring

It's almost inconceivable that the godfather of science fiction has left the planet. For nine plus decades, his primary focus was all things futuristic and off the planet. One of his many nicknames was "The Boy Who Was Born on Mars," and fitting it was.

My first exposure to the Ackermonster was at Sun-Fax Market in 1958. As you walked in the front door, the newsstand was sharply to the left. I usually perused the latest comic books while my mother shopped for the week's food. There on the rack over to the right, next to the latest comic books, were the movie magazines of the day. Filed into their bins so you could only see the tops of the periodicals, was one that read Famous. I strained my arms and stood on tiptoe to pull the 'zine out of the rack, and lo and behold was the Halloween colored (orange and black) second issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland with a box at the lower right corner which announced "2nd Great Issue." Between the covers of this 35 cent wonder were stories on Karloff and Lugosi, the latest monster flicks, and enough puns to fill a trick or treat bag.

I knew this wasn't approved reading material in my household. A half a year later at the same location, I spied the fourth issue of Famous Monsters. Once again, I knew that I had no way of spiriting this glorious mag back to my room, with its War of the Worlds alien cover, and latest news on all our favorite monsters, as well as a piece on "Roland," who later morphed into the "Cool Ghoul" Zacherley.

Shortly after that I began to read F.M. at friends houses who were allowed to have this reading material in their homes. I tried to memorize the information in each issue - film titles, dates, and even the puns. Soon I began getting off the school bus two stops early to go to Sun-Fax Market News Stand to purchase Famous Monsters. I would stuff them under my shirt, sweater, or coat to smuggle in the contraband. I read and re-read those magazines, all the while seeing as many of the films depicted in the newsprint pages as I possibly could. The years rolled by, and eventually the parental ban was lifted on monster magazines.

Forry Ackerman had been as much of an architect of my youthful rebellion as rock and roll! I always looked forward to Forry's film books such as the original Dracula, The Bride of Frankenstein, Werewolf of London, King Kong, and many others.

There was also a column called "Inside the Ackermansion" which gave the fans a bat's eye view of Forry's fabulous abode, and his massive collection. F.M. was adorned with rare, and at that time unseen, photos from the Ackerman archives, in such features as "You Axed For It" (a pun on the popular TV series).

One day in the summer of 1964 I was looking through the Los Angeles phone directory, and found Forry's phone number, much to my surprise. Sheepishly I dialed the West Los Angeles number and got an answering service, where I left my name and phone number, thinking I would never hear back from this monsterious editor. A few days later the telephone rang on the black iron phone stand in the hallway of my mother's house, and a voice (which I can hear at this moment) announced that he was Forry Ackerman returning Jan Henderson's call. I couldn't believe my ears. That weekend, riding in the family auto with the Beatles' latest single crackling over the two inch car radio speaker, I had no idea of what to expect when we reached the mythical Ackermansion. Nothing could have prepared my adolescent brain for the wonders that awaited me when Forry opened the door to his house, and ushered me into a world of unbounded imagination.

Forry at the entrance to "The Witch's Dungeon"

Forry and I became fast friends, ad after that magical August afternoon I began attending events where he would be appearing, with folks like Ray Bradbury, A.E. Van Vogt, Robert Block, Bongo Wolf, Gordon R. Guy, Milt Larsen, Christopher Lee, Lon Chaney, Jr., to name a few.

Forry's birthday parties were always memorable occasions, with Forry giving partygoers gifts as well as receiving them. At one such fiesta in the early eighties, Forry gave out his latest SciFi Anthology Gosh, Wow, a Sense of Wonder, This volume was then, and is now, one of my all time favorite science fiction collections, and I try to re-read it once a year. What would you expect for the man who literally coined the term "Sci-Fi" in the 1950s, and who has received shamefully little credit for doing so.

Forry opened the door if imagination for generations who might never have embraced these wonders, and inspired many authors, film makers, and media personalities, who carry on these traditions to this day.

The universe has dimmed at the passing of this luminous figure, but maybe "The Boy Who Was Born On Mars" has returned to his beloved red planet, and is smiling down on us who carry on.

Forry with Witch's Dungeon Vincent Price head - about 2004

Youtube 2004 Forry informal interview at the Witch's Dungeon

Photos and Youtube clip courtesy of Cortlandt Hull

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