Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Breathing celebrity air with...FORREST J. ACKERMAN

By Steve Crum

I made Forry Ackerman laugh. Forrest J. Ackerman aka Forry aka The Ackermonster was a special guest at the fun Area 51 Festival held June 15-21, 2001 in Independence, Mo. He spoke on stage between screenings of classic science fiction movies The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Thing From Another World. Forry watched the films as an audience member too--films he had undoubtedly seen a hundred times since his 1916 birth. 

Actors Billy Gray and Robert Cornthwaite were also there in person. As a child actor, Gray secured his place in movie martyrdom in 1951's The Day the Earth Stood Still. Cornthwaite's portrayal of the driven lead scientist in The Thing has immortalized him to sci-fi buffs. 

Incidentally, it is Forry Ackerman who created the phrase "sci-fi," repeatedly used in his classic, influential magazine, "Famous Monsters of Filmland." Ackerman, who died on Dec. 4, 2008, was a major cultural influence by legitimizing horror and sci-fi movies to the masses. He shared his passion for being awed by fantasy and terror with the world, a love geeks like yours truly have maintained. In fact, we are no longer considered geeks. 

That is, unless one dresses up like a superhero or creature outside of Halloween. That is pretty geeky. 

During a lengthy break in the Area 51 festivities, Ackerman sat behind a table, signing photos of himself for fans. I stood in the long line to meet and greet the man, and get a signed pic. He had brought stacks of 8x10's with him in various poses. There was one of him with Vincent Price, one with Boris Karloff, and one by himself. I chose the one with Price. 

Before he signed, however, he asked for the $5 fee. I proceeded to pull a five inch wide $5 bill facsimile out of my wallet, adding, "I'm sorry, I just brought a little money with me." It was a guaranteed groaner I have pulled on friends for years. 

Forry Ackerman laughed. Big time. In fact, he guffawed. 

This is the man known for writing excruciatingly bad (which means good) puns in his magazines for decades. 

He checked over my fake bill as he kept laughing. Then I traded it for a real five spot. He signed the photo for me, and I thanked him. He was still laughing when the next in line approached.
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Let's take a personally guided tour of The Ackermansion with none other than Forrest J. Ackerman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WFRsm0-PTc

3 comments:

  1. Steve - I picked up 4E for that event in a vintage hearse that promptly broke down on the way to a radio interview in Westport. It is one of my favorite stories!

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    Replies
    1. This story I have never heard, Tim. When we see each other (I hope soon), please tell me all about it.

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  2. Ackerman, is a major cultural influence things that we can get everything out and it has been evaluated as well as on the actual record. friv 8

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