5 years old. 1969. New Jersey. I just had “seen the light” (a Creature Features viewing of Bela Lugosi’s “Dracula”), but had yet to read the gospel. Then it happened. Barnabas Collins and his “House of Dark Shadows” cronies leering up at me from issue 82 of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. Bloody, colorful and seducing, it sat amongst a stack of super hero comics and teen idol magazines in the dark corner of a local supermarket named Foodtown. Prophetically appropriate, for FM has been nourishing my soul ever since.

If horror movies are religion, than the God of that religion is Forrest J Ackerman, for it was he who wrote the Bible. Within the pages of that testament, monsters and their makers both old and new were committed to history and given full worship by Forry. His mission was not to editorialize, scoop or blog bash, his was to celebrate. In my then innocent monster kid world devoid of easy access to “celluloid macabre” and DVD extras revealing the tricks behind the magic, there was nothing other than Ackerman and FM keeping the classics alive and fresh. ‘Twas “Uncle” Forry time and time again pulling the stake from Dracula, digging up the Mummy, unmasking the Phantom… He did these deeds within FM, and, as all proper religions require a place of worship, every single Saturday in every home he has ever lived in, opening his doors wide and unbiased to anyone from anywhere seeking a sanctuary to touch the gods. He called it The Ackermansion.

At a time when most East coast boys (and girls!) dreamed of going to Disneyland, my West coast conquest was always the Ackermansion. Madly flipping thru the pages of every new FM, I never failed to pause and sigh when it came to photo spreads of Forry in his home, beaming next to Vincent Price and the Metropolis robot, or sharing tea with Karloff and his wife. What truly blew my mind were the amount of photos of young FM readers such as myself to whom Forry would endlessly play host and storyteller in his monster museum. All you had to do, Uncle Forry would tell us, was simply show up and ring his bell! To confirm his guileless, Santa Claus nature, Forry actually published his home address on Glendower Drive as well as his unforgettable personal phone number…. 213-MOONFAN. Decades before the internet and My Space made it possible and common, Forrest J Ackerman was connecting personally with fans and future filmmakers, bridging the gap of dream and reality, serving as conduit and providing six degrees of separation between an International congregation of aficionados and the objects of their affection.

In ‘82, 18 years of age, I finally gathered the nerve to call 213-MOONFAN. I was in NYU film school chasing my dreams, a young novitiate surrounded by opportunities I never thought possible. I had just met my first horror celebrity, Jonathan Frid (Barnabas Collins himself), at a Dark Shadows convention, and, being it was his visage that graced my first FM, figured to myself, “Why stop there?”. And so it was I picked up the phone and dialed my Forry. The voice on the other end was warm and friendly, everything a kindly old Uncle should be. Before I knew it, I had invited myself to California and the Ackermansion. Always one to envision an achievement and let reality catch up with it, I happily announced to anyone who would listen that I was off to Hollywood to hang with Uncle Forry. Luckily for me, my mom worked for the airlines and was able to get me a free stand-by flight to my destination. As the days trickled closer to the date of departure, the notion that what had been a sweet but unlikely childhood wish of mine was actually about to come true nearly short circuited me into cancelling the trip. I had never been on a plane, never been beyond New Jersey or New York- never traveled alone! But this was Forry- and, in a way, every monster I had ever hoped to meet. I gathered my courage, took the plunge, and, in many ways, finally met my maker.

That sacred trip changed my life. There is no doubt in my mind that where I am today is a direct result of growing up Forry. For over 26 years since our first encounter, we have remained friends, surrogate relatives, and now that I live in LA, neighbors. He is part of my life, engrained in my soul- and yet I know I am only one of legions who can honestly say the same...

Never was that more true than during these past few weeks as all of these “nieces and nephews” of Uncle Forry’s came together in person, on the web, in thru letters and in emails, to bid farewell to the King.

Tim & Forry for the very first time 1983

The word was out that Forry was ready to say goodbye. I honestly believe he was hanging on much longer than he would have liked to, doing so more for us than himself. Those who could gather by his bedside did. I was blessed to have the chance to look into my beloved Forry’s eyes, hold his hand, and once more express my love, gratitude, and, as Forry himself put it, “Last Regards”.

It was the best death that anyone could have had. No regrets. Nothing unsaid. No unfinished business. And NO DOUBT that Forry passed without knowing his impact on us all.

I have never experienced anything like it, and do not believe I ever will. It truly was a Living Funeral, a wake where the loved one was actually still there. As sad and melancholy as it was, there was such a sense of love and honor for Forry, and a bond among a group of people, Ackermaniacs, who all clearly realized how their entire life and career was kick started and nurtured by this one singular man. Our stories were all different, and yet all the same. More than one, myself included, commented how Forry was more of a father figure than their own flesh and blood parent.

I am so grateful that Forry had the chance to bask in this love, and know firsthand how much he means to us all.

We are one, and we truly are the children of Forrest J Ackerman. We truly owe it all to Forry and Famous Monsters.

We must keep his legacy alive, and thru Forry, the legacy and roots of our beloved genre.

Like Lon Sr and Jr, Bela, Boris, Peter, Vincent and Christopher before him.........


His is in our hearts, our stories and our memories. And for me, one of the greatest memories is of a very special visit back in 1997 when I was helping to launch the pop culture magazine go figure! Designed to explore all avenues of collecting and collectibles, no man’s collection at the time was greater than Forry Ackerman’s, making my friend a natural subject matter for the debut issue. Sadly, the resulting article barely saw the light of day, go figure! itself folding after a brief, innocuous run. Here, now, however, is a look back to an era when the Ackermansion still stood tall. For fantasy, horror and Sci-Fi fans who remember, sit back and reminisce. For those who never heard the tale, stand up and take notice. This is your heritage……. -Tim Sullivan (12/14/08)


2495 Glendower Drive circa 1983
See that house on the hill? The one looming over the parched landscape of Hollywood? Last night the Santa Ana winds, the Devil winds, blew in and cleared the smog from the LA basin. Today, everything, from the dry grass waiting to erupt into flame to the gangly palm trees flanking Sunset Boulevard, appears unreal. Like props for a film.

The house on the hill looks unreal, too. But perhaps 'unreal' isn't quite right. 'Fantastic' fits this place better. You see, this house, or more appropriately, this 'mansion', belongs to Forrest J Ackerman, known by his legion as Forry. And what's contained in this house? Junk to some. Kitsch to others. But for those who saw "Famous Monsters of Filmland" (when Forry was the owner) as the veritable Holy Scripture for Fandom, a term Forry coined, the big house on the hill is the Ackermansion. The place of dreams turned real.
Visiting the Ackermansion, which one can do free of charge and uninvited on any given Saturday afternoon, one must pass the gauntlet of puns and sight gags that made Forry himself famous and endeared him along the way to parents who otherwise might have found his world of often grotesque oddities too extreme for little Junior to take. Outside the house, the license plate on the aging Cadillac reads "Sci-Fi". (Yet another Forry sobriquet) The mat at the secret side entrance welcomes you to "HorrorWeird, Karloffornia". You ring the door bell, and a familiar Transylvanian drawl answers in hambone theatricality. "Who dare disturb the sleep.... of the Vampire?!"

Dial F for Forry 1983

The Deadly Spawn takes a bite out of Forry 1983
The answer is no less than the Children of the Night, the children who grew up reading the recollections and anecdotes of the man they fondly and sincerely (and to this day) consider their "Uncle Forry". Sure the relationship was strictly surrogate, but in many ways Forry always had it over our own flesh and blood. Forry collected cool things. Forry hung out with the Wolfman. And Dracula. Frankenstein. The Mummy... In fact, Forrest J. Ackerman has met more movie monsters than even Abbott and Costello in their heyday.
The evidence is scattered about as you make your way in. Here in this humble abode, Ackerman has lovingly (and non-discriminately, one might add) collected the remnants of filmdom's most fantastic creature features. There in the corner lurks the robot from "Metropolis". (A film Forry proudly confesses he's seen 96 times) Move to the right and you're liable to knock over one of the "Seven Faces of Dr. Lao". And don't dare step on that metallic Frisbee- it just might be the Martian space ship from "War of the Worlds"!

The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao (original props)

BuckMAN meets AckerMAN 1995
The house definitely is a shambles, but that doesn 't seem to phase it 's owner, currently guiding the latest batch of awestruck followers through today 's performance of "The Forry Show". Like a rock star whipping out his greatest hits, the eighty year young Forry presents one well rehearsed anecdote after the other, soundbites of an era well rooted in the past.

"My grandfather photographed Abraham Lincoln in this chair,' Forry boasts, working the crowd as he points to the seat in question. "Recently a darling little girl visited, only four and a half years old. I sat here down in this chair and I said, "Jasmine, do you know who Abraham Lincoln was?" She said, "Uncle Forry, I don't go to kindergarten yet. I really don't know. "So I took out a penny and showed it to her.”Well, do you know who this is?" She took one look and smiled. "Vincent Price!"
As the crowd laughs on cue and Forry moves on to his next routine ("In the 1800's a young girl named Mary Shelly wrote "Frankenstein". I don't know if he ever wrote back...." Ba da bump), I wonder whether he realizes just how accurately the previous story describes himself. Mention Peter Lorre and he'll instantly recite the poem he wrote upon the actor's death. Throw out a question regarding Ray Harryhausen and his discourse on stop motion animation could fuel a research paper. But deviate from the standard patter, or talk about anything beyond the realm of Fantasy and Horror, and Forry simply doesn't know what to say.

Perhaps this is to be expected. In a very practical way, Ackerman is as much a part of his collection as he is caretaker to it. His entire being embodies the yellowed newsprint on which "Famous Monsters" is printed, a story rooted in the days when movies didn't even speak, let alone blast mind numbing explosions of THX stereo in Dolby Surround....

Basil Gogos "Curse of Frankenstein" original art

Forry shows off the original Lugosi Dracula ring 1997
As yet another satisfied crowd disperses for the day, Forry sits down for a little one on one. Wearing the very same Dracula ring worn by Bela Lugosi both on the screen and on his deathbed, Forry surveys his dusty kingdom. I need not speak. He knows the questions. They have been asked many times before.

"It all started with my maternal grandparents," Forry recalls with a fond sigh. "I definitely picked the right pair. They began taking me to movies when I was only five. First film I ever saw was a fantasy film called "One Glorious Day" about a little boy who died and came back to earth as an angel. It's funny. You could take 100 kids fishing, and 99? They'll say they had an okay time. But this one kid, he'll dream of catching the world's greatest marlin. Fortunately, for most everybody, there's something that turns them on. Already at the age of five, when I saw that film, I knew I wanted to go beyond the confines of this world and age. And next thing I knew, a man named Lon Chaney was making movies just for me."
So impressed was Toddler Forry with the Man of a Thousand Faces, by the time he became Teen Forry in the late Twenties, Ackerman was already building structures to house his memories, the early artifacts stored simply in his mind. "At the end of the Silent era and the beginning of the Talkies, once you saw a film you felt it was gone forever. It would be around for a week or two and then that was it. So I would see a film six, maybe seven times in one week, figuring I 'd never see it again."

Soon, however, revisiting "The Island of Lost Souls" on his mental VCR just wasn't enough. "Sound was still on huge discs instead of little sprockets on the side of the film. I found that after something like "The Invisible Man" or "The Old Dark House" had played in San Francisco, where I was living at the time, the theater would actually throw away the sound discs! So I rescued as many as I could and played them on my old Victrola back at home. It was sort of like radio."

Dick Smith Dorian Gray head original prop

Mole People and Time Travelers original prop heads
Collecting sound discs led to acquiring press kits and stills, and soon, Forry found himself a man with a mission. "I would hang around the movie studios to get autographs and that led to my writing to the artists and authors themselves. Frequently I got a letter from them telling me about forthcoming projects. I began saving all of those letters religiously. Then I broadened out. I got some yellow sheets and some carbon paper, and I would make five copies at a time of the information I had learned. And that was the beginning of my "Time Traveler" magazine, the first of all science fiction fanzines."
The year was 1932. Forry was sixteen. "On the first page of the first issue, I gave a listing of 30 of what I called Sci-Fi films. In retrospect I would never call "Nosferatu" or "Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" science fiction, I guess they should have been called Imagi-Movies, but there were so few of them that I lumped everything together and listed the mere 30 that I knew of. When "Time Traveler" became "Fantasy Magazine", that kind of opened it up so I could talk a bit about Chaney and Lugosi and Karloff and so on. I was very happy, I was afraid those fellows were going to die forgotten men. And so, to a very small audience, just about a hundred people in the whole United States, I began keeping those films and those personalities alive."

Forry and Chaney Shall Not Die!

Cut to twenty five years and one World War later. (A war in which Forry found himself facing evils more monstrous than any cinematic terror.) A forty-something Ackerman has carved out a career for himself as a literary agent whose clients run the gamut from Ray Bradbury to Ed Wood. One of Forry's new friends is magazine publisher Jim Warren. And Jim has a vision.

WANTED! More Readers like Gene Simmons!
"Jim was in the mood to do a 'one-shot', something that was very popular at the time. It could have been about The Beatles or Marilyn Monroe, virtually anything were you'd get in and out with a single issue. Well he took a look at this French publication about Horror films, and in his mind's eye he could see everything turning into English. That's when I spoke up. "You know," I said, " I've been seeing these kind of films since 1922. I have thirty five thousand stills and the memories to go along with them. I'm sure I could put together a one-shot." Well, Jim Warren went to the 13 people who were distributing magazines at that time, and pitched the idea of a magazine called "Wonderama". Every one of them turned it down. But then Am erican International Pictures came out with "I Was a Teenage Frankenstein" and "I was a Teenage Werewolf", and these teenage horror films were such runaway successes, Life magazine did a whole feature on them. So one of the distributors who had turned us down called and said "Look, put monsters on the cover and I don't care what's inside!"
So Warren called me. "Forry, you are about to become the editor of a magazine called 'Famous Monsters of Filmland'!" I said, "Oh, God, do I have to put my name on it?" Well he flew to LA and he sat next to me and my mechanical typewriter, and he held an imaginary sign in the air "I am eleven years old and I am your reader! Forrest J. Ackerman, make me laugh!" Well I never had the slightest notion of being funny about it. It was going to be a serious listing of about 100 fantastic films. But he set the pace, and away we went. I guess around the time of the fifth issue, 1960, I sort of realized there was no end in sight."

And so, with Forry preaching the good word in the pun-filled pages of FM, a genre once certified X for adults now became child's play. "Next thing you knew," Forry half shudders, "manufacturers began to wake up to the fact that there was money to be made by merchandising items in connection with these films." Like the mad movie scientists before him, Uncle Forry had created a monster.

Famous Monsters of Filmland Issue Number ONE

"Curse of the Werewolf" FM Cover art original
"The Lost World" without a Burger King collector's cup? "Batman and Robin" sans McDonald's Happy Meal? Now you truly are talking fantasy and science fiction. But that was the movie marketing wasteland in which Children of the Pre-60's found themselves. No "Mighty Joe Young" plush toy. No "Jekyll and Hyde" play set. No "Cat People" action figures. Yet now in Forry's "Famous Monsters", in between reminders that "Boris Karloff Lives Eternal" and "Lon Chaney Shall Not Die", there now was ad upon ad offering ghoulish goodies no red blooded fan could resist. Glow in the Dark monster models from Aurora! ("Frightening Lightning Strikes!") Full over the head masks from Don Post Studios! Chiller Theater bubble gum cards! Like The Blob itself, the opportunity to trade money for monsters just kept growing. As did the size, shape and quality of the motion pictures some might say, in this current generation, are merely big budget opportunities to market product tie-ins.

Years later sitting in the Ackermansion, surrounded by memorabilia very little of which, quite tellingly, is less than twenty years old, Forry now frowns upon his out-of-control offspring. "I'm of two minds about special effects. I'm delighted that young fellows can make a handsome living doing them. Not like a Jack Pierce or Willis O'Brien. Those people never had big bank accounts, and now, you know, you'll even get an Academy Award. But sometimes to me it's like the tail wagging the werewolf. You go to see a fantastic film and it's all special effects and hardly any kind of a story you can relate to. Well I say turn back the clock and study what Fritz Lang did and Tod Browning and James Whale and many of the other early directors and writers and actors. Try and learn from the classics of the past and hopefully, in the 21st Century, start over again and do it right. Don't be so concerned with special effects and gimmicks and toys. It's more about Story. Personality."

Inevitably, many of these toys and movie props, personality or not, found their way into what had by 1960 become Forry's open playhouse. The Ackermansion was born! "Around the same time 'Famous Monsters' started," Forry now recalls, "I left the flat in which I had lived with my grandparents and got my first home which was on 915 South Sherborne Drive. I began having an open house every Saturday. Since then, I might be in Taiwan or Transylvania, but if I'm home and well, it's a very rare occasion that I have nothing better to do on a Saturday except to open my doors. You know, if just ten people came each time, that would be twenty five thousand fans that have been through my home in the last forty five years."

As one who's made the trek, it can be said a journey through the Ackermansion truly is a one way trip into the Twilight Zone. It's hard to shake the experience. The tour includes the entire house, even Forry's bedroom, where posters of Madonna play peek-a-boo with Vampirella. (Downstairs in the foyer, however, stands a tender shrine to Forry's true eternal sweetheart, his beloved late wife Wendayne.) These items serve to testify that yes, Uncle Forry really is human, as does the box of Pop Tarts in the kitchen, atop which now rest Count Yorga's priceless fangs.

Fangs for the Memories: The Night Stalker and Count Yorga's actual teeth!


Okay. The house may not be in order, but neither are our memories. We trip on them. We stumble across them. Some are nice. Some are more beautiful than others. Maybe the paint is peeling off that original Basil Gogos painting of Peter Cushing. Perhaps it is hard to imagine that lump of blackened foam once was King Kong. But listen now to Forry speak filled with boyish zeal, and just as Frankenstein breathed new life into cold flesh, you can hear once more that giant ape's heart beat it's final gasp atop the Empire State.

The 2002nd Maniac: Forry with Tim, Wendy "Peaches" Kremer and Christa "Milk
Maiden" Campbell 2004
And then it hits you. This is not a Haunted House. This is an orphanage. Science Fiction... Fantasy... Horror... When all is said and done, the denizens that inhabit these genres always have been the bastard children of Hollywood, swept aside in favor of more 'prestigious', 'serious' siblings. And just like any orphan, they needed a father, someone to care for them. But who? Enter Forry. Forry saved the Creature from the Black Lagoon from being thrown out like a used Halloween costume. The Thing from Another World had no place to go. Now he has more room than Forry himself. Hooray for Hollywood? Not a chance. Without the Ackerman's compassion and vision, the memorabilia that surrounds him would be forgotten.
Why does he do it? Why does he open his doors, his heart, his mind? "I realized that nobody on Earth really owns anything," Forry confesses. "You're just a temporary keeper of whatever it may be. And when you go, it passes on to somebody else. You know, I guess I sort of see myself as altruist number one. I feel like a sponge that should be squeezed. I have all this information and I like to see it circulated. And if I'm very lucky, if I do become the George Burns of Science Fiction and celebrate my hundredth birthday, I think I'll always be wanted by the world. Maybe not so much for myself but for the fact that here's a man who heard HG Wells speak. And was in Boris Karloff's company ten times. And did hang out with Lugosi the last years of his life. There'll always be young people who treasure me because of that trove of information that I have."

Bela Lugosi original FM cover art

Shock N Roll All Nite! On the set of " Detroit Rock City"
These young people, Uncle Forry's legion of nieces and nephews, are in many ways as misunderstood and abandoned as the misfits rescued and given shelter here in the Ackermansion. And that's why they come to pay him homage so religiously. These are the kids whose parents threw away their comic books because "monsters rot their mind". The lonely boys who confounded teachers with their short tales of werewolves and mummies. The little girls who preferred being the Wicked Witch rather than Snow White at Halloween. Take one look around Hollywood today and you'll see them. The Stephen King's and the Gene Simmons' and the Rick Baker's. Is it too much to suggest they wouldn't exist without Forry's inspiration and influence?
"A man took me out to dinner once because he insisted I saved his life." Forry recounts, no doubt in reply. "He told me that when he was a youngster he was so down in the dumps he truly felt there was no use in carrying on. But then he spied the latest issue of "Famous Monsters" which had King Kong on the cover. He was so interested in that movie that he bought it. Well, he was reading it and he came to the end and it said "To be continued next issue...!" Thank God, because he waited, and by then he was out of the mood!"

Forry, Tim, John Landis and Gary Gerani 2002

Dusk is falling on 2495 Glendower Drive. There will be a full moon tonight. Perfect timing, for soon, a patchwork group of friends and fans will be arriving for yet another Ackerman ritual- midnight ghost tales. With only a candle to illuminate, Forry will read from his numerous texts, getting back to what he loves best- The Story.

My childhood heroes meet: Gene Simmons and Forry at the Saturn Awards 1998
There are some who may say that with "Famous Monsters", Forry inadvertently created a market that killed the very essence of what he has worked so hard to preserve. Others may argue that the very nature of collecting (exemplified in this case by the Ackermansion) actually does more damage than good. And so we must ask the question. Does the acquisition of props and toys solidify our memories in timelessness? Or simply damn them to banality?
There are no easy answers. But maybe some clues can be found in the letters Forry receives weekly without fail. Letters from men and women, now 30 or 40, who just want Forry to know "You made my childhood". And maybe further evidence can be gathered from the smiles on those visiting Forry's world for the very first time, or in the tears that greet his touching stories of movie heroes ignored by the town that once embraced them. Perhaps Forry has done a thankless task after all. The task of reminding Hollywood of the importance of imagination.

Tim & Eli Roth on the set of 2001 MANIACS 2003

Tim & Forry on Forry's 80th Birthday  1996
"Being I'm a consummate materialist, I don't feel I've been here before and I don't expect to come back afterwards. So figuring I have at most a hundred years to live, why I always wanted to compound it into just this. And in a hundred years I've lived thousands of years, via the imagination of Jules Verne and Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke and so on. I may not physically be here to see the year 3000 or One Million, but in a way I've sampled all these futures. I've been to the center of the earth. I've been to all the planets and beyond the solar system. What Science Fiction has done for me is it extended my life in time and space."

At five years old, Forry found that something special that turned him on. He wrote the scrapbook, built the museum, and extended an open invitation. Millions accepted, thus Forry himself became the conduit for other people's dreams. Well raised, his children have grown up and left the house. Some have gone on to be the new generation of magic makers. Others simply rely on the magic for inspiration in their day to day routine. But thanks to Forrest J. Ackerman and his house on the hill, forgotten monsters and their kindred fans always have a place to call home.


1) Well I would go right after the 1926 October issue of "Amazing Stories", since, basically that's what started my entire collection....

2) And I would go after the first edition, a hundred years old, of "Dracula", signed not only by the author, Bram Stoker, but by Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee and John Carradine and Frank Langella.....

3) And then the special edition out of 250 editions of "Frankenstein" that I have, where they changed the child to "The Man Demon", and in which I have the autograph of that teenager Mary Shelly who wrote "Frankenstein" as well as a leaf from her garden in Switzerland and another leaf from atop her tomb in England....

4) I'd go for an autographed photo where I asked Bela Lugosi for the only time in his life to sign his name "Count Dracula"....

5) And then the last autograph, which he designated as such, ever signed by Vincent Price...

Unused Christopher Lee FM cover art

At the premiere of 2001 MANIACS 2005
6) Certainly the Metropolis Robot. Yeah....

7) Oh, I think I'd try to grab the complete set I have of "Famous Monsters of Filmland" magazine....

8) Anything I have of Lon Chaney, Sr. At one time I put together a collection of 1000 photographs of him, so I would grab those. I also had his original make-up kit, but the Museum of Natural History came after me. As I recall, I had gotten it quite legitimately but they didn't have any record of it, so they insisted on me giving it back.....

9) But I do have his fangs from and top hat from "London After Midnight" so I would grab those....

10) Of course my Dracula ring from Bela, but I wouldn't have to grab that. I never take it off!


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