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OBITUARIES : FORREST J ACKERMAN, 1916 - 2008

Editor of Famous Monsters coined 'sci-fi'

December 06, 2008|Dennis McLellan | McLellan is a Times staff writer.

The Dracula/Frankenstein room featured a casket as a "coffin table" and the cape Lugosi wore in the stage version of "Dracula." A case displayed one of the horror film legend's bow ties, which, Ackerman would gleefully note, contained a drop of blood.

Among the collection's other highlights: the ring worn by Lugosi in "Dracula," the giant-winged pterodactyl that swooped down for Fay Wray in "King Kong," Lon Chaney's cape from "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Metropolis" director Fritz Lang's monocle.

The affable Ackerman would escort his visitors through the priceless warren of books, posters and memorabilia, settling into a chair in each room and answering questions.

"He was always just a big kid," said Fangoria's Timpone. "I really cherished all the times I've been with him."

Ackerman wrote more than 2,000 articles and short stories for magazines and anthologies, sometimes under the pseudonyms Dr. Acula, Weaver Wright and Claire Voyant.

He also wrote what has been reported to be the first lesbian science-fiction story ever published, "World of Loneliness." And under the pen name Laurajean Ermayne, he wrote lesbian romances in the late 1940s for the lesbian magazine Vice Versa.

Ackerman edited or co-edited numerous books, including "A Book of Weird Tales" and "365 Science Fiction Short Stories."

Over the years, he made numerous cameo appearances in films, including Dante's "The Howling" and Landis' "Innocent Blood." Landis also had Ackerman eating popcorn behind Michael Jackson in the movie theater scene in his "Thriller" video.

Famous Monsters of Filmland ceased publication in 1983, but returned a decade later with Ray Ferry as publisher and Ackerman as editor. Ackerman, however, reportedly had a falling out with Ferry and left the magazine. Years of litigation followed. In 2000, after a civil trial, Ackerman won a trademark infringement and breach-of-contract lawsuit against Ferry, though he said a year later that he had not yet collected a penny of the judgment.

In recent decades, according to a 2003 Times story, Ackerman slowly sold pieces of his massive collection in order to survive. Because of health problems and his still-unresolved legal battle, he put up all but about 100 of his favorite objects for sale in 2002.

The same year, he moved out of the Ackermansion and into a bungalow in the flats of Los Feliz. But he continued to make what was left of his collection available for fans to view on Saturday mornings.

"I call it the Acker Mini-Mansion," he said.

Ackerman's wife, Wendayne, died in 1990; he has no surviving family members.

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dennis.mclellan@latimes.com

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latimes.com

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See a photo gallery of Forrest Ackerman on The Times' website:

latimes.com/obits

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