Yesterday I failed to pass along the news of the death of Forrest J Ackerman, who died Thursday at age 92. Not out of lack of respect for the legendary editor and horror-fantasy film fanatic who wrote and ran Famous Monsters of Filmland, the first big-time print fanzine, from 1958 to ’83. My hesitancy was due, rather, to an odd feeling that came over me when I examined several pics of the very weird-looking Ackerman after his death was announced.
The late Forrest J. Ackerman; an early ’60s cover of Famous Monsters of Filmland.
I don’t want to convey anything but admiration for Forry, as his friends called him. The man lived for the spirit of classic horror movies, creating a fanboy life before the term “fanboy’ has been invented, a guy who constantly hungered for the wonders and intrigues of cinefantastique. But not a smidgen of the baroque creepiness of horror films rubbed off on his appearance. The man looked like an old-urban-America streetcorner anachronism. A Moustache Pete character type out of a 1940s Dick Tracy short. He dressed like a Hollywood Park bet-taker from the late ’40s or early ’50s. He wore loud, loose-flowing sport shirts that would turn a funeral up an alley.
Ackerman was a giant in his realm, don’t get me wrong, but it’s difficult for me to feel emotional kinship with a guy who looked like a suburban-retirement-home version of Fearless Fosdick or Boston Blackie — no offense.