Uncle Forry and Me
Forrest J Ackerman* was an important figure in science fiction fandom…and for all the readers of Famous Monsters of Filmland. For a lot of kids, that was a window into the world of fantasy and science fiction. He still has a huge legacy: from silly puns in article titles to adoration of little known special effects artists to cosplay (wearing costumes to conventions, such as you see at San Diego Comic-Con every year).
He also had an amazing collection of movie props…I’m still sad that it was broken up after his death. He had allowed people into his home (“The Ackermansion”) to see it. It would have been so much better if someone who had made money in the fantasy/science fiction entertainment business had been able to step in and save it.
He was also a nice guy. 🙂
In 1974, I was at Discon II, the World Science Fiction Convention in Washington, D.C.. It was the last day, and I had it all worked out. I arranged for a ride to the airport (I already had a ticket), so I spent the rest of my money in the “Hucksters’ Room”.
Then my ride left without me.
I needed to get to the airport, and everything would be fine. This was before ATM cards, of course. I figured I needed a cab.
I saw Forry. I only knew him from the magazine, but I approached him. I had quite a few rolls of unexposed Super 8mm movie film. Yes, film…this was before home video, too. 🙂
I asked him if he wanted to buy a few rolls, just on hope. I explained the situation, and he offered my ten dollars for a cab (yes, ten dollars…this was 35 years ago, after all). I told him I’d pay him back, caught the cab, and got my plane home.
I was a total stranger, and he had really saved me…just out of the goodness of his heart.
Years later, I saw Forry at another convention. I went up to him and returned the ten dollars. He smiled and said, “Oh, you were that fellow.”
I have to say…I was always so impressed that he had remembered the incident. He had undoubtedly met tens of thousands of people over the years: maybe more. He’d seen me for five minutes, maybe. Admittedly, not that many people had probably offered to sell him unexposed Super 8mm film to get cab fare, but still…I was honored to be remembered by the world’s #1 science fiction fan.
Do you have a Forry Ackerman story? I’d love to hear it!
* Forry spelled his name without a period after his middle initial…and there hasn’t been a period put on his contributions to fandom…
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle