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Forrest Ackerman: You will be missed!  XML
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Joined: 05-10-2008 19:26:48
Messages: 8

I checked my email this afternoon and got a message from my friend Jack. I'm sure you heard that Forrest Ackerman died, right? No, I responded back! I had not heard that! I googled it and sure enough, it was true. I can't say that I was shocked as he had been ill for many years and was in his 90's. I was somewhat prepared due to those circumstances. That and the fact that my Grandpa is the same age and physically, they look similar.

I am a bit sad as I type this but not devastated. Maybe more emotion will come as this soaks in or maybe not. I did have the pleasure of meeting "Uncle Forry" on two occasions. Both at the San Diego Con in 2001 and 2002. I will recall those meetings for you here:

In 2001, my first San Diego Con with my Uncle Tommy, I had heard that Forry was around. Not as an advertised guest if I recall correctly but as a fan and collector. I was pawing thru a box of what else, monster magazines, when I heard someone shout to my right, "Forry!" I lifted my head and there he was! He was wearing one of the most hideous outfits I had ever seen! Brown pants with a green and yellow shirt! I had never met him and did not know what I should do. I decided to just go right up to him and see what would happen. It was Friday during the day and the attendance was sparse. I walked right up to him and said, "Uncle Forry!" He turned (I am getting a bit choked up recalling this now) toward me with a huge smile! I don't recall exactly what I said next but I mentioned that I was a big fan of his and of course, Famous Monsters of Filmland! I was shaking his hand and he was shaking mine back with that great big smile! We were all alone right there in the middle of this enormous convention center. We talked for a couple of minutes and during that time he showed me a spider ring with a secret compartment. The compartment housed a scraping of some make-up from the teeth that Lon Chaney wore in the lost film, London After Midnight! On the other hand, he was wearing the actual scarab ring that Karloff wore in The Mummy! I actually touched the ring that "Uncle Boris" wore in 1932! I was absolutely thrilled! We went our separate ways and I realized I had better take advantage of this moment as best I can. I did not have a camera but I did know where there were some copies of Famous Monsters. I ran back to that box and dropped $20.00 on a 1966 Yearbook. Forry had not gotten far as a dealer was chatting with him and had him autographing two copies of FM#1. Luckily for me, the dealer was in good spirits and let me get in there and use his sharpie to autograph the cover of my magazine. I remember this as if it were just yesterday. How he rolled out his wrist and took his time to get the signature just right. It was beautiful to watch! I have that magazine framed and hanging on my wall and I truly treasure it.

In 2002, Uncle Tommy comes thru again as he is perusing the events guide and notices a seminar with Ray Bradbury, Julius Schwartz and "Uncle Forry!" He mentioned that maybe we should go to one or some of these and check it out? It was an hour long history lesson and question and answer session. Thinking back now, it really was an honor to be in the same room with guys that had done so much and meant so much to so many. I recommend that if you get the chance to meet or talk with someone that you admire, do so! Julie died in February of 2004 and Ray Bradbury won't be around too much longer either. He was just on Turner Classic Movies sharing some of his favorite movies but I am getting off the track. After the seminar had concluded, it seemed that everyone rushed to Ray Bradbury. He clearly has many fans and the energy in the room was fantastic! I was there to see my "Uncle Forry" and went that way. He was attempting to tell the electrified crowd that he would be in the creators section signing autographs but the microphone power had been turned off and I was basically the only one that heard it. I did remember to bring a camera this time and I asked Forry if I could get a picture. He, with that great big smile, said yes and invited me up on to the stage. I leapt up like a gazelle. He, to my surprise, grabbed my hand and we posed triumphantly while Uncle Tommy took the legendary picture. Well, it's legendary to me at least and maybe to Uncle Tommy. I also asked him if I could have the name card that was on the table. He said yes and I had him sign that as well. That is also framed and on my wall. I am looking at it as I type this and have provided that photo for you all to see. I did go down to the creators section and bought a couple books that he autographed for me on the spot. I should mention that both he and Bradbury were wheelchair bound at this event. Driving home, at least to me, that this was a very special moment and not to be taken lightly.

I conclude: When things like this happen, I stop and take a look at life. Right now I am grateful and feel very satisfied that I met and talked with one of my heroes. When I talked with Forry, it seemed like he was honored to be talking with me and the pleasure was all his. He was excited about me and not about my fascination with him. Forry was genuinely humbled and his attention was 100% on me. I have heard so many horror stories about others meeting their heroes and being so disappointed in the experience. It was not the case with my 'Uncle Forry" as he was much more than I ever could have known would I have never met him. I am saddened at a world without him but his influence has sparked so much of my own interests in the Classic Horror genre. I could never be as influential as he is but in my own small way, I think I have made a mark. I will surely try that much harder now that he is gone. I would like to thank my parents for allowing me to watch "Monster" movies, collect comic books and enjoy all the things that go with those hobbies. I thank my Uncle Tommy as he has always been my big brother and we have shared a lot of the same passions over the years. Without him, I never would have met my "Uncle Forry!"

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 01-26-2009 13:01:09

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