Ackerman, Forrest J. 1916–
Ackerman, Forrest J. 1916–
(Forrest James Ackerman, Dr. Acula, Claire Voyant, Weaver Wright)
* Indicates that a listing has been compiled from secondary sources believed to be reliable, but has not been personally verified for this edition by the author sketched.
PERSONAL: Born November 24, 1916, in Los Angeles, CA; son of William Schilling (a statistician) and Carroll Cridland Ackerman; married Wendayne Wahrmann, June, 1949. Education: Attended University of California, Berkeley, 1934–35. Politics: Apolitical. Religion: Atheist.
ADDRESSES: Home—4511 Russell Ave., Hollywood, CA 90027. Agent—Ackerman Science Fiction Agency, 2495 Glendower Ave., Hollywood, CA 90027.
CAREER: Writer. U.S. Civil Service, Los Angeles, CA, senior typist, 1937; Associated Oil Co., Los Angeles, clerk, 1938; Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Hollywood, CA, chief varitypist, 1939–40; Fluor Drafting Corp., Los Angeles, chief varitypist, 1942; Ackerman Science Fiction Agency, Hollywood, owner and agent, 1947–. Collector and curator of Ackerman Science Fiction Archives, 1926–. Founder of Boys' Scientifiction Club, 1929; lecturer on science fiction and films at schools and universities; guest on commercial and public television programs, including To Tell the Truth, Down Memory Lane, Merv Griffin Show, PM, Tomorrow Show, Today Show, Mike Douglas Show, and Good Morning, America; actor in motion pictures, including The Time Travelers, 1964, Queen of Blood, 1966, Dracula vs. Frankenstein, 1971, Schlock, 1973, The Howling, 1981, Aftermath, 1981, Thriller, 1983, Evil Spawn, 1987, Amazon Women on the Moon, 1987, Curse of the Queerwolf, 1988, Return of the Living Dead Part II, 1988, The Laughing Dead, 1989, The Wizard of Speed and Time, 1989, My Mom's a Werewolf, 1989. Transylvania Twist, 1990, My Lovely Monster, 1990, Hard to Die, 1990, Nudist Colony of the Dead, 1991, Braindead, 1992, Innocent Blood, 1992, Ceremony, 1994, That Little Monster, 1994, Beverly Hills Cop III, 1994, Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfolds, 1995, Bikini Drive-In, 1995, (and associate producer) Vampirella, 1996, Dinosaur Valley Girls, 1996, Future War, 1997, Sado-Mannequin, 2001, The Vampire Hunters Club, 2001, The Double-D Avenger, 2001, Skinned Deep, 2004, and The Naked Monster, 2005. Military service: U.S. Army, 1942–45; became staff sergeant; edited wartime newspaper.
MEMBER: Science Fiction Writers of America, National Fantasy Fan Federation (honorary lifetime member), Science Fiction League (honorary member No. 1), Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (honorary charter member).
AWARDS, HONORS: Hugo Award from World Science Fiction Convention, 1953, naming him "Number-One Fan Personality"; has subsequently received German, Italian, and Japanese Hugo Awards; Ann Radcliffe Award from Count Dracula Society, 1963 and 1966, for gothic excellence; fan guest of honor at twenty-second World Science Fiction Convention, 1964; guest of honor at Lunacon, 1974, at first annual Famous Monsters of Filmland Convention, 1974, and at science-fiction conventions in England, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Spain; Science Fiction Hall of Fame Award, 1976; Academy of Science Fiction Films Award, 1977; Frank R. Paul Award from Kubla Khanate, 1980, for outstanding achievement in science fiction; Lifetime Achievement Award, World Fantasy Convention, 2002.
(Editor, with Cliff Lawton) A Book of Weird Tales, Veevers & Hensman Ltd. (London, England), 1958.
James Warren Presents the Best from Famous Monsters of Filmland, Paperback Library (New York, NY), 1964.
James Warren Presents Famous Monsters of Filmland Strike Back!, Paperback Library (New York, NY), 1965.
James Warren Presents Son of Famous Monsters of Filmland, Paperback Library (New York, NY), 1965.
The Frankenscience Monster, Ace (New York, NY), 1969.
(With others) Science Fiction Worlds of Forrest J. Ackerman and Friends, Powell Publications (Reseda, CA), 1969.
(Editor) Alfred Elton van Vogt, Monsters, Paperback Library (New York, NY), 1970.
(Editor) Best Science Fiction for 1973, Ace (New York, NY), 1973.
Amazing Forries, Metropolis Press (London, England), 1976.
Souvenir Book of Mr. Science Fiction's Fantasy Museum, Kodansha (New York, NY), 1978.
(With Philip J. Riley) London after Midnight Revisited, Metropolis Books (London, England), 1981.
(With A.W. Strickland) A Reference Guide to American Science Fiction Films, four volumes, T.I.S. Publications (Bloomington, IN), 1981.
(With Strickland) A Book of Great Science Fiction Films, T.I.S. Publications (Bloomington, IN), 1981.
Forrest J. Ackerman Presents Mr. Monster's Movie Gold: A Treasure Trove of Imagi-Movies, edited by Hank Stine, Donning Co. (Virginia Beach, VA), 1981.
(Editor, with Cozzi) The Great Science Fiction, 1936–40, Editrice Libra (Bologna, Italy), 1981.
Gosh! Wow (Boy-oh-Boy)! Science Fiction, Bantam (New York, NY), 1982.
Forrest J. Ackerman, Famous Monster of Filmland, introduction by Vincent Price, Imagine (Pittsburgh, PA), 1986.
(Contributor and advisor) Jerry Weist, Original Comic Art: Identification and Price Guide, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1992.
(Editor, with Janrae Frank and Jean Stine) New Eves: Science Fiction about the Extraordinary Women of Today and Tomorrow, Longmeadow Press (Stamford, CT), 1994.
(Editor, with Jean Stine) Reel Future, Barnes & Noble (New York, NY), 1994.
(Editor, with Jean Stine) I, Vampire, Longmeadow Press (Stamford, CT), 1995.
(Editor, with Stine) 365 Science Fiction Short Stories, Longmeadow Press (Stamford, CT), 1995.
(With others) Vampirella: 25th Anniversary Special, Harris (New York, NY), 1996.
(Compiler) Ackermanthology: 65 Astonishing, Rediscovered Sci-Fi Shorts, General Pub. Group (Los Angeles, CA), 1997.
Forrest J. Ackerman's Museum of Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy (CD-ROM), Marlin Entertainment/Hobby Software (Worthing, England), 1997.
Forrest J. Ackerman's World of Science Fiction, introduction by John Landis, General Pub. Group (Los Angeles, CA), 1997.
(Compiler) Science-Fiction Classics: The Stories That Morphed into Movies, TV Books Inc. (New York, NY), 1999.
(As Dr. Acula) Dr. Acula's Thrilling Tales of the Uncanny, Sense of Wonder Press (Rockville, MD), 2004.
(With Brad Linaweaver) Worlds of Tomorrow: The Amazing Universe of Science Fiction Art, Collectors Press (Portland, OR), 2004.
Also author of The Gernsback Awards, Vol. 1, Forrest J. Ackerman's Fantastic Movie Memories, and Color Collectors Guide. Author and narrator of motion picture Science Fiction Films, University of Kansas, 1970. Creator and author of comic books Vampirella and Jeanie of Questar. Contributor, sometimes under the pseudonyms Dr. Acula, Weaver Wright, and Claire Voyant, of more than 2,000 articles and short stories to magazines, including Wonder Stories, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Other Worlds, Weird Tales, Authentic Science Fiction (England), Vertex Science Fiction, Nebula Science Fiction (Scotland), Spaceway, New Worlds (England), Hapna! (Sweden), Famous Monsters of Filmland, Fantasy Book, Marvel Science Stories, Perry Rhodan, International Science Fiction, Los Cuentos Fantasticos (Mexico), Utopia (Germany), Fantastic Story, Super Science Stories, After Hours, Penthouse, and Science Fiction Digest. Editor-in-chief of Famous Monsters of Filmland, 1958–; managing editor of "Perry Rhodan" series, Ace, 1969–79; editor of The Time Traveller, beginning 1932, Voice of the Imagi-Nation, beginning 1939, Ft. McArthur Bulletin-Alert (Army newspaper), 1942–45, Spacemen, 1961–64, and Monster World, 1964–66. Author of screenplays, Filmgore, 1983, and Letter to an Angel, 1996.
ADAPTATIONS: Ackerman's comic book, Vampirella, was adapted as a film in 1996.
SIDELIGHTS: As originator of the Fantasy Foundation, Forrest J. Ackerman has amassed the largest collection of science-fiction and fantasy artifacts on Earth. Housed in the "Ackermansion" (his four-story home in Hollywood) is virtually every fantastic title ever printed, including two hundred editions of Dracula and as many editions of Frankenstein. Among row after row of bookcases and shelves that occupy the garages, basement, halls, cupboards, and rooms of the Ackermansion are the books, magazines, manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, paintings, posters, movie props, and assorted memorabilia that define a genre—more than 300,000 items valued at many millions of dollars. Professionally, Ackerman is a writer, editor, and literary agent. Within the science-fiction community, however, he is "4SJ," "Forrie," and the "World's Greatest Science-Fiction Fan."
Since 1926, the collection and promotion of science fiction have been a way of life for Ackerman. Schoolmates who shared his interest in space flight and otherworldly beings were hard to find in the twenties and thirties, so he organized fan clubs, published newsletters, and developed a correspondence with science-fiction enthusiasts around the world. Magazines at that time were limited to a handful of Hugo Gernsback publications—Amazing Stories, Science Wonder Stories, and Science Wonder Quarterly—but Hollywood provided other imaginative outlets. Ackerman attended as many as seven films a day, taking in everything from Fritz Lang's classic Metropolis to low-budget B movies about bug-eyed monsters from outer space. In a short time he added stills, posters, and sound discs to his library, deciding that the major goal of his life would be to create and maintain "the greatest collection of sci-fi and fantasy memorabilia on Earth (or any other planet in the solar system)," as Ackerman wrote in the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television.
Hollywood's impact on the evolution of science fiction is a prominent part of the collection. It is even part of Ackerman's personality; he adopted the swirling hairstyle of matinee idol Warren William and fashioned his handwriting from an inscribed photograph of actress Kay Francis. However, to take the full measure of his film enthusiasm, a visitor to the Ackermansion must explore the lower levels, the heart of the collection, where galleries of movie monsters, masks, props, posters, and stills are on exhibit. In one section is a full-scale replica of Ultima, the robotrix from Metropolis; in another are five of The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao. Prehistoric monsters from King Kong are featured along with the mask from Werner Herzog's Nosferatu, a makeup kit used by Lon Chaney, Sr., and more than 125,000 stills from such films as Things to Come, War of the Worlds, and The Day the Earth Stood Still.
The hallmark of the collection, however, is its all-inclusiveness. Everything from the supernatural to fantasy to horror to hardcore science fiction is represented. For more than six decades Ackerman has been scanning publishers' lists, searching out and purchasing every possible edition, whether he personally likes a book or not.
Before his fame as a collector, Ackerman was already a sci-fi celebrity with unique credentials. Beginning with the first issue of Science Wonder Quarterly in 1929, he has probably published more fan letters and articles than anyone else in fandom, many of them under pseudonyms like Dr. Acula, Weaver Wright, Claire Voyant, and scores of others. At the first World Science Fiction Convention in 1939, Ackerman was the only one to show up in a futuristic costume, but it set a precedent for future conventions that fans of Star Trek, Star Wars, and J.R.R. Tolkien continue to observe. When the highest honor in science fiction, the Hugo Award, was created in 1953, Isaac Asimov presented the very first one to Ackerman, naming him sci-fi's "Number One Fan Personality."
Ackerman's most famous (or infamous) contribution to the science-fiction field came in 1954. The atomic age had by then transformed science fiction from a literary outpost to a popular cultural force, and it was felt that "scientifiction" was too cumbersome a term for current needs. Taking his cue from other hybrids of the day like "hi-fi" and "poly-sci," Ackerman coined the abbreviation "sci-fi," a universally recognized acronym that some authors and fans still wish had never been uttered. Nevertheless, the word is in popular usage worldwide and has found its way into numerous dictionaries.
Ackerman's efforts to boost the popularity of science fiction have taken other forms as well. As a literary agent he has represented such writers as A.E. van Vogt, H.L. Gold, Hugo Gernsback, L. Ron Hubbard, Ray Cummings, and Donald F. Glut. His Famous Monsters of Filmland, launched in 1958, was for many years one of the most popular film monthlies on the market. He is the author of occasional short stories, numerous books about science fiction, a lifelong supporter of Esperanto ("the language of the future"), and a widely sought-after guest speaker at schools and universities. In addition, Ackerman has compiled or edited several collections of science fiction stories with plans for more volumes in the future. Yet overshadowing all of these activities, the abiding interest of Ackerman's life remains the expansion and preservation of his collection of science fiction memorabilia.
A small sampling of this memorabilia can be found in the 1998 volume Forrest J. Ackerman's World of Science Fiction. Ackerman takes the reader on a tour through the history of science fiction literature, movies, and art, from the early days of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells to such contemporary films as Star Wars and The X-Files. Illustrating this tour are 300 photos, mostly in color, of Ackerman's collectibles. According to Tom Easton of Analog Science Fiction & Fact: "Overall, the pictures dominate the text and give the book its great strength as a visual tour of SF's past and a survey of the changes it has undergone." Gordon Flagg of Booklist characterized the volume as an "elaborate, nostalgic scrapbook on the history of … science fiction." He went on to note that "Ackerman gives us the collection that appeals to the inner 12-year-old boy in readers of all ages and both genders." Reviewing the same title in Pop Matters, Ed Hatton felt Ackerman's world was "an interesting place to visit." Hatton concluded: "The reproductions of streamlined pulp magazine covers, book jacket illustrations, film and television stills, movie posters, photos of classic genre actors, movie monsters, and famous robots is worth the price of the book alone." A considerably more comprehensive exploration of Ackerman's collection can be found on the CD-ROM, Forrest J. Ackerman's Museum of Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy. Allen Greenberg, writing in Computer Gaming World, called its subject a "legendary" collection. For Greenberg, Ackerman's CD-ROM allowed fans "the opportunity to stroll through the emporium's many rooms."
Ackerman shares more science fiction and movie memories with his 1999 title, Science Fiction Classics: The Stories That Morphed into the Movies. In the collection, he presents numerous tales published before the 1960s that were adapted for film and television. For Library Journal reviewer Devon Thomas, this collection serves as "a trip back in time for the fan of early sf." Collaborating with Nebula-award finalist Brad Linaweaver, Ackerman collected science fiction art from magazines and from book covers from the 1930s to the 1950s for his book, Worlds of Tomorrow: The Amazing Universe of Science Fiction Art. A contributor for Bookwatch found this collection to be "as nostalgic to browse through as it is entertainingly informative," while a reviewer for Library Bookwatch praised the "gorgeous reproductions of fantasy and science fiction art."
Lest his life's work should ever be auctioned off in blocks or sealed up in a university vault, Ackerman decided that the archives should remain intact and available to the public. In 1979 he offered his entire collection to the city of Los Angeles with the understanding that it would someday be housed in its own freestanding facility. According to Stanley Young of the Los Angeles Times Magazine, "the real gem" of the Ackermansion is Ackerman himself: "A man of infinite affability and a congenial punster; he'll regale you with personal memories behind many of the items in this unique collection."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Ackerman, Forrest J., Amazing Forries, Metropolis Press (London, England), 1976.
Ackerman, Forrest J., Souvenir Book of Mr. Science Fiction's Fantasy Museum, Kodansha (New York, NY), 1978.
Clute, John, and Peter Nicholls, editors, Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1993.
Forrest J. Ackerman, Famous Monster of Filmland, Imagine (Pittsburgh, PA), 1986.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, two volumes, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1979.
Science-Fiction Fantasy Horror: The World of Forrest J. Ackerman at Auction, Guernsey's (New York, NY), 1987.
Analog Science Fiction & Fact, September, 1998, Tom Easton, review of Forrest J. Ackerman's World of Science Fiction, p. 138.
Booklist, March 1, 1998, Gordon Flagg, review of Forrest J. Ackerman's World of Science Fiction, p. 1083.
Bookwatch, January, 2005, review of Worlds of Tomorrow: The Amazing Universe of Science Fiction Art.
Computer Gaming World, August, 1997, Allen Greenberg, review of Forrest J. Ackerman's Museum of Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy, p. 28.
Computer Life, September, 1997, Don D'Ignazio, review of Forrest J. Ackerman's Museum of Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy, p. 108.
Fantasy Review, September, 1985, review of Forrest J. Ackerman's Fantastic Movie Memories, p. 26.
Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, March, 1996, Forrest J. Ackerman, "Forrest J. Ackerman's Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy Memorabilia," p. 27.
Library Bookwatch, October, 2004, review of Worlds of Tomorrow.
Library Journal, September 15, 1999, Devon Thomas, review of Science Fiction Classics: The Stories That Morphed into Movies, p. 116.
Los Angeles Times Magazine, February, 1993, Stanley Young, "Forrest J. Ackerman," p. 26.
Publishers Weekly, March 31, 1997, review of Forrest J. Ackerman's World of Science Fiction, p. 69.
Variety, December 6, 1999, "Keeper of the Sci Fi Faith," p. S18.
Armchair World, http://www.arcmchair.com/ (April 14, 2006), Gary Fisher, "An Interview of Forrest J. Ackerman, 'Mr. Science Fiction.'"
Dragon*Con, http://www.dragoncon.org/ (April 14, 2006), "Forrest J. Ackerman."
Fantastic Fiction, http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/ (April 14, 2006), "Forrest J. Ackerman."
Forrest J. Ackerman Home Page, http://www//4forry.best.vwh.net (April 14, 2006).
Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com/ (April 14, 2006), "Forrest J. Ackerman."
Pop Matters, http://www.popmatters.com/ (April 14, 2006), Ed Hatton, review of Forrest J. Ackerman's World of Science Fiction.
SF Site, http://www.sfsite.com/ (April 14, 2006), "Forrest J. Ackerman."
Slackers SciFi Source, http://www.whataslacker.com/scifi/forrest_ackerman/ (April 14, 2006), "Sci-Fi Universe of Forrest J. Ackerman."