Legendary horror fan and writer Forrest J. Ackerman passed away Thursday night after a lengthy illness. He was 92. As the editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland, and the owner of the famed Ackermansion, a Los Feliz home stuffed with horror and fantasy memorabilia, Ackerman was the über-fan before the Internet made everyone a nerd, a man who lived his passions and spread his love of genre to others, influencing writers and filmmakers with a unique tone that was juvenile but infectious. In comics, he created the character Vampirella; he is also credited with coining the term “sci-fi.”
His enthusiasm for the material gave the magazine a flavor that its many imitators couldn’t match. They could print the same stills, interview most of the same interviewees…but they lacked the Secret Ingredient, which was Ackerman. He was as much a star of the publication as Bela Lugosi, loading each issue with monster puns and jokes to the delight of a young and loyal male demographic. Many who grew up on it still refer to him as Uncle Forry, including no small number who became authors or filmmakers and credit the influence of Ackerman.
Sadly, I never got to go visit the Ackermansion during my LA years, and my interactions with Ackerman were fleeting — for many of my friends, however, he was a friend and inspiration. Certainly his passing is a reminder that an era of fandom — the exploratory, innovative age that created the foundations to help nerd culture take over pop culture — is gone forever.