When Forrest J Ackerman passed away last December science fiction lost a tireless, shameless promoter who helped transform the genre from a suspect niche market into a thriving industry. A true Los Angeles original, Ackerman grew up when the town really was just that -- a place that was as big as a city, but one that still possessed the front-porch hominess -- and provincialism -- of a Midwestern town. At the time that young Ackerman spent long afternoons watching repeated screenings of Metropolis and King Kong, the creators of science fiction and fantasy were struggling to be noticed beyond pop culture's ghetto of pulp magazines and B-movies.
Ackerman, an adolescent friend of future authors Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein, would ever so slowly change all that. He became a literary agent, movie prop collector and background actor, though his undisputed accomplishment was the founding of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine in 1958. In the way that print once held the power to legitimize the illegitimate, FM not only described contemporary sci-fi (a term Ackerman coined) films, but created a community around the genre and made it respectable.
This Sunday the Egyptian Theater will pay tribute to "Forry" with discussions and personal testimonials from his friends (Bradbury, Jon Landis and FM publisher James Warren have been announced as participants). In addition, there'll be screenings of Famous Monster, a short documentary about Ackerman and The Time Travelers,
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an Ib Melchior sci-fi film with Ackerman appearing in a cameo role.
event starts at 4 p.m. and is preceded by a 3 p.m. reception and
viewing of items belonging to Forry's estate. On display will be some of his possessions that are to be included in an April auction that will put on the block Bela Lugosi's Dracula ring and cape, plus a first-edition Dracula signed by Bram Stoker and inscribed by Lugosi and others -- and even the monocle Fritz Lang wore when he directed Metropolis.