This may sound like an exaggeration, but I really don't know where I would be today if it weren't for Forrest J Ackerman. He taught me almost everything I wanted to know about horror films. He was the editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland. Every other month I would have to check the magazine rack at the drug store to see if the new issue was on the magazine rack. When I first started collecting them, I was 7 or 8 years old, they cost 50 cents. The covers were in breathtaking color, usually painted by artist Basil Gogos. The inside was black and white, printed on newsprint. There were pictures and articles about the horror movies of the past, news of upcoming movies, and then there were the ads from Captain Company. Captain Company sold horror and sci-fi memorabilia, toys, masks, and I wanted it all.
By the time I reached junior high, I had at least three stacks of past issues. Then it was almost as if the writers and "Uncle Forry" had started to run out of things to write about. Horror movies had experienced a drop in popularity, movie audiences were more interested in Star Wars and Fantasy movies. The original publisher, Warren Publications, folded in 1983. I had stopped buying Famous Monsters long before that.
There were many imitators in the game. None of them held up because none of them had Forrest J Ackerman. He was the original "fan boy," a collector of hundreds of pieces of memorabilia. At one time he was in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most horror and sci-fi memorabilia under one roof. He referred to his house as the Ackermansion. He was friends with Ray Bradbury, Ray Harryhausen, Vincent Price, just to name a few. He loved horror films and loved talking about them.
I never met him although I did get to correspond with him online. In the mid 1990s he had a website and I decided I wanted to write him. I told him that he was a big influence on my life, a childhood hero. By that time, he was in his 80's, but apparently still going strong.
I didn't really expect a reply, but reply he did. He said he loved my e-mail, thanked me for writing. He said that if I were ever in the Los Angeles area that I should stop by and he would give me a tour of the Ackermansion.
It would have been wonderful. I wish I would have been able to go.
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