Forrest J Ackerman: 1916—2008
His Famous Monsters magazine was the beginning of my education in film history. While reading about Karloff and Lugosi, I was also reading about Fritz Lang and Murnau. By following articles on James Whale and Tod Browning, I learned what a director was. It was in FM I first learned the names Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley. In reading Ackerman's ongoing adoration of Lon Chaney I learned about the beauty of silent film. And even though the puns got shaggier and shaggier with each issue, FM was the start of my lifelong love affair with film history.
In the decades since reading FM I've pored through literally hundreds and hundreds of film books. Just last week I re-read A Cast of Killers, Sidney Kirkpatrick's book about King Vidor's investigation into the murder of William Desmond Taylor. It's a terrific book, one I've enjoyed twice now. And it's a book I probably never would have even known about if I hadn't known who King Vidor was, or had a fascination with the silent movie industry. I'm sure I never read about Vidor himself in FM — but my interest in that world started there. And for that I owe weird, silly old Uncle Forry a lifetime of gratitude.