What would Halloween be without monsters? And what would monsters be without Forrest J Ackerman?
Some of you might not recognize the name, but Ackerman – known as Forry to fans and friends – was the editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine from its founding in 1958 until publication ceased – at least under Ackerman, and at least for a while – in 1983.
Ackerman’s publication came at a fortuitous time for his fortunes and for monster movie fans in general. Famous Monsters coincided with the airing of the “Shock Theater” package of old monster movies – including classic Universal monster films from the 1930s and 1940s – on TV.
During the 1960s in particular, monsters were a booming business, spawning model kits, movies, TV shows like “The Munsters” and magazines like FM and its many imitators.
Ackerman, who died in December 2008, was a corny, pun-making treasure trove of movie and science fiction literary history and he brought it all to the magazine.
I met him only once, during a trip to California in the 1980s. My friends and I got to go through his house, dubbed the Ackermansion, which was filled with many thousands of movie props, posters, books and magazines. I still can’t believe Forry let virtual strangers wander around through his museum.
Besides the overwhelming number of books and posters, the house had priceless movie props. I got to see the spaceships from “Earth vs. the Flying Saucers” and metal armatures for stop motion models from the original King Kong.
I don’t know that Forry ever made Halloween a big deal – every day was Halloween for Forry and Famous Monsters – but he sure contributed to the delight and love and knowledge that many, many fans had for the spooky trappings of the holiday.