ANNIVERSARIES OF ERB: Nov. 24 by John MartinThanksgiving Day in 1916 fell on Nov. 17. Exactly one week later, Mrs. Ackerman gave birth to little Forrest J. and it is unknown if he ever committed any childhood pranks that motivated her to refer to him as "you little monster."
But Forry grew up to love monsters, and science fiction, and anything weird in or out of this world, including the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Besides Forry, he was known as Mr. Science Fiction and the man who coined the term "Sci-fi."
Over the years, he zealously tracked down sci-fi and fantasy memorabilia, including books by ERB and many others, and lovingly put it on display in every nook of his Karloffornia home, which he named the Ackermansion, not to hoard it, but to share it, freely inviting fans to visit his home to roam its rooms. Not satisfied with merely having visitors stop by, he started a new magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland, to share the scariest creations of Hollywood, and various authors, with the world.
He loved getting together with fellow fans, coming to the '89 ECOF in Tarzana-Woodland Hills and visiting every dealer table to introduce himself and show his fellow fans the two large rings that adorned his hand -- one being the ring Bela Lugosi wore as Dracula and the other worn by another famous monster -- might have been Boris Karloff's from The Mummy. Then, he invited everyone to visit his home for the grand tour.
My own introduction to the world of Ackermania came when we lived for about a year in North Highlands, California, near Sacramento, and I was in the seventh grade. I often walked multiple blocks to a shopping center where I would look over the magazine rack for the latest issue of Mad and the several imitations of Mad that were being published at that time, titles like Thimk, Frenzy, Cracked and so forth. One day I saw something brand new and unlike anything I had seen before: The "Collectors Edition" of Famous Monsters of Filmland, which was in reality FMM No. 1, with the cover with the red background, the tuxedoed Frankenstein monster with green face, and the beautiful blonde on his arm. I had to have that magazine but it was 35 cents and I did not have that much.
I didn't want to wait until the next day because I was afraid that all the copies of the magazine would be sold by then, so I went next door to a gas station and told the attendant I would like a job to earn 35 cents. He thought that was amusing and gave me the 35 cents and told me I could come back the next day and he'd find some work for me. He probably never expected to see me again but I did go back the next day and he scratched his head, trying to think of something for me to do, and finally he got a small sickle and put me to work hacking down tall grass in back of the station. I don't even know if it was actually his property. After awhile he came around and told me I had more than earned my 35 cents and I could quit.
Several months later, my mother became worried about the course my life was taking, and told me I needed to get rid of all of my Mads, etc., and the monster mags. I told her I would but I thought I could find a cubby hole in our mobile home to hide some, but not all, of my magazines. I chose wrong. I kept the Mads but tossed all of the issues of FMM that had been published up to that time. Nowadays the Mads of that era are much easier to find, and much more affordable, than the FMMs. Bad decision. Story of my life!!!
Little did mom realize that one day I would actually meet the man who published that horrific magazine and even tour his house and see all of the gruesome objects he collected.
Never toured the Ackermansion? It's not there anymore, but it survives on youtube. Here's a nine-minute tour you can take with Forry himself as host, and then look on youtube for many other videos of Forrest J. in action:
The day Bill Hillman got lost in the Ackermansion:
And another site, among others to be found on the web:
Do an internet search! Lots more out there about 4SJ!
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