Forrest J Ackerman, whose early fanzine Famous Monsters of Filmland inspired a generation of make-up effects artists, died of heart failure Dec. 4 in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times has reported. He was 92.
Founded in 1958 by Ackerman and publisher James Warren, Famous Monsters of Filmland was devoted to horror and science fiction; it was one of the first magazines to showcase prosthetic movie make-up by pioneers in the field, including Dick Smith.
“Forry Ackerman is responsible for me being the strange man that I am today,” Rick Baker told Make-Up Artist magazine Dec. 8. “It is all his fault. His magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland is where I learned that people actually get paid to make monsters and do make-up. His magazine not only inspired me but so many others of my generation to get into the film business. His presence will be greatly missed.” (continued below)
Ackerman illustrated the magazine with publicity stills and artifacts from his extensive collection of sci-fi books and movie memorabilia, which included posters, masks, costumes, models and props.
“He had one of the largest collections of first-edition books and monster memorabilia,” said effects artist Barry Koper, who recalled Ackerman’s “open Saturday” house tours at what became widely known as the Ackermansion. “He was always so proud to show off all the items he had amassed over the years. His pride and joy was his Bela Lugosi Dracula ring, which he always wore.” Another of Ackerman’s prized possession was the guest book he asked visitors to sign; it became a who’s who directory of film industry insiders.
Besides collecting monster-movie memorabilia, Ackerman also served as a literary agent for science fiction writers including Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury, whose own fanzine, Futuria Fantasia, Ackerman helped launch. A B movie fan, Ackerman made cameo appearances in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video and Return of the Living Dead, Part II. In 2007, Road House Films released the documentary Famous Monster: Forrest J Ackerman.
According to the Times, Ackerman’s wife, Wendayne, died in 1990; he has no surviving family members.