Forrest J Ackerman's #MeToo Moment ...

taraco
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taraco
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Joined: February 23rd, 2004, 5:37 am

January 30th, 2018, 3:08 pm #1

NOTE FROM THE BURGOMASTER:  For clarity and navigation, we are posting a new introduction to this thread, and trying to make it  a more cohesive experience.

This Topic began on 1/30/18 with some back and forth on the legacy of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND's editor, the late Forrest J Ackerman, who died in 2008 at the age of 92.  Since those posts were incidental to what was to come, they have been removed.

Things heated up after I posted (below) a defense of Ackerman and his legacy. Soon after, Lucy Chase Williams, a noted Vincent Price biographer and longtime monster fan, posted that she had been harassed and abused sexually by Ackerman. (Post #2)

What follows has been left almost entirely intact. I have removed short posts that were repetitive or irrelevant. The remaining posts have not been altered in any way.

david colton (taraco)
administrator, Classic Horror Film Board


Taraco:

Here's what sums up the importance of Forrest J Ackerman to me.

This is the back cover of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND #11 (the Gogos/Gorgo cover), from 1961. I think this was the first issue I ever saw. I was 13.
fm11.jpg
Again, I was 13 and deeply in thrall with Shock Theater on TV, Zacherley and the horror and sci-fi double bills at my two local theaters.

Despite all that, only in Forry's editorial approach to FAMOUS MONSTERS did I learn the names James Whale, Ray Harryhausen, George Pal, Curt Siodmak, Willis O'Brien, and all the hidden hands behind the classic films I so loved.

And where else but in FAMOUS MONSTERS would I know there was a 1932 DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, that the actor, someone named Fredric March, had won an Oscar, and that this is what he looked like.

There were no books yet (or if there were they were obscure in libraries), no 'Internet,' no Bill Warren, no Michael Blake, no Gary Rhodes, no Tom Weaver. There was just FAMOUS MONSTERS and an over-eager editor called Forrest J Ackerman.

Now for sure someone else would have come along to harness all that Monster Mania energy. Someone else, or something else, would have 'taught' us. Many argue that FAMOUS MONSTERS wasn't their influence or teacher. They are usually younger thanI am.

But it was Forry who got there first. For me. In 1961.

Was he eccentric, strange, arrested development? Yes. Was he an accumulator rather than a collector? Yup. But because of him, I discovered an entire world of gods and monsters. And will be eternally grateful.

Finally, yes, there is often an over-abundance of 'Forry worship' in fandom. But I rarely see that here at the CHFB. Every icon deserves and should expect to be scrutinized, and his legacy is analyzed repeatedly here. To the point that some think the CHFB is anti-Forry.

All I can say is this CHFB member isn't anti-Forry and will speak on his behalf, his failures too, whenever the need arises. Forrest J Ackerman made a mark, more than most, and will not be forgotten.

'Wanted! More readers like....'
david
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Joined: April 12th, 2011, 4:15 pm

January 30th, 2018, 7:00 pm #2

taraco wrote: Here's what sums up the importance of Forrest J Ackerman to me.

This is the back cover of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND #11 (the Gogos/Gorgo cover), from 1961. I think this was the first issue I ever saw. I was 13.
fm11.jpg
Again, I was 13 and deeply in thrall with Shock Theater on TV, Zacherley and the horror and sci-fi double bills at my two local theaters.

Despite all that, only in Forry's editorial approach to FAMOUS MONSTERS did I learn the names James Whale, Ray Harryhausen, George Pal, Curt Siodmak, Willis O'Brien, and all the hidden hands behind the classic films I so loved.

And where else but in FAMOUS MONSTERS would I know there was a 1932 DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, that the actor, someone named Fredric March, had won an Oscar, and that this is what he looked like.

There were no books yet (or if there were they were obscure in libraries), no 'Internet,' no Bill Warren, no Michael Blake, no Gary Rhodes, no Tom Weaver. There was just FAMOUS MONSTERS and an over-eager editor called Forrest J Ackerman.

Now for sure someone else would have come along to harness all that Monster Mania energy. Someone else, or something else, would have 'taught' us. Many argue that FAMOUS MONSTERS wasn't their influence or teacher. They are usually younger thanI am.

But it was Forry who got there first. For me. In 1961.

Was he eccentric, strange, arrested development? Yes. Was he an accumulator rather than a collector? Yup. But because of him, I discovered an entire world of gods and monsters. And will be eternally grateful.

Finally, yes, there is often an over-abundance of 'Forry worship' in fandom. But I rarely see that here at the CHFB. Every icon deserves and should expect to be scrutinized, and his legacy is analyzed repeatedly here. To the point that some think the CHFB is anti-Forry.

All I can say is this CHFB member isn't anti-Forry and will speak on his behalf, his failures too, whenever the need arises. Forrest J Ackerman made a mark, more than most, and will not be forgotten.

'Wanted! More readers like....'
david
Speaking of "failures" (!), I guess this is the time to remind the boys here of #MeToo. I and other young women like me were subjected to a different kind of "Forry worship." How differently would any of you have felt, when all you wanted was to talk about monsters with the "over eager editor" of your favorite monster magazine, if your Uncle Forry had forced wet kisses on you? If he had put his hands all over you, pinching your "naughty bottom" and squeezing your "boobies"? If he had enthusiastically related with a big grin how he wanted to strip off your clothes with everybody watching? And if, in the face of your total refusal of any of his attentions every single time you saw him in person, he never didn't try again, and again, and again? And if for years, in between those times, he mailed you letters with pornographic photos, and original stories about how naughty you were, and how he wanted to hurt and abuse you, yet all the while make you weep and beg for more? And if he continued that behavior, despite written and verbal demands to cease, entirely unabashed for more than two decades? No, I can't forget him either -- or how he turned my childhood love of monsters into something adult and truly monstrous. 
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taraco
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taraco
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January 30th, 2018, 7:04 pm #3

Yes, there's that, too.

You outline what is a growing affliction to so many of our admired folks of the past, and it cannot and should not be ignored.

Thanks for taking the courage to say that, Lucy, which goes far beyond things I ever heard. Youtoo.
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spfx
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spfx
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January 30th, 2018, 7:04 pm #4

He did the same thing to me.... ;-)
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Crow T Robot
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Joined: May 16th, 2007, 11:28 pm

January 30th, 2018, 7:34 pm #5

LucyChaseWilliams wrote:
taraco wrote: Here's what sums up the importance of Forrest J Ackerman to me.

This is the back cover of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND #11 (the Gogos/Gorgo cover), from 1961. I think this was the first issue I ever saw. I was 13.
fm11.jpg
Again, I was 13 and deeply in thrall with Shock Theater on TV, Zacherley and the horror and sci-fi double bills at my two local theaters.

Despite all that, only in Forry's editorial approach to FAMOUS MONSTERS did I learn the names James Whale, Ray Harryhausen, George Pal, Curt Siodmak, Willis O'Brien, and all the hidden hands behind the classic films I so loved.

And where else but in FAMOUS MONSTERS would I know there was a 1932 DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, that the actor, someone named Fredric March, had won an Oscar, and that this is what he looked like.

There were no books yet (or if there were they were obscure in libraries), no 'Internet,' no Bill Warren, no Michael Blake, no Gary Rhodes, no Tom Weaver. There was just FAMOUS MONSTERS and an over-eager editor called Forrest J Ackerman.

Now for sure someone else would have come along to harness all that Monster Mania energy. Someone else, or something else, would have 'taught' us. Many argue that FAMOUS MONSTERS wasn't their influence or teacher. They are usually younger thanI am.

But it was Forry who got there first. For me. In 1961.

Was he eccentric, strange, arrested development? Yes. Was he an accumulator rather than a collector? Yup. But because of him, I discovered an entire world of gods and monsters. And will be eternally grateful.

Finally, yes, there is often an over-abundance of 'Forry worship' in fandom. But I rarely see that here at the CHFB. Every icon deserves and should expect to be scrutinized, and his legacy is analyzed repeatedly here. To the point that some think the CHFB is anti-Forry.

All I can say is this CHFB member isn't anti-Forry and will speak on his behalf, his failures too, whenever the need arises. Forrest J Ackerman made a mark, more than most, and will not be forgotten.

'Wanted! More readers like....'
david
Speaking of "failures" (!), I guess this is the time to remind the boys here of #MeToo. I and other young women like me were subjected to a different kind of "Forry worship." How differently would any of you have felt, when all you wanted was to talk about monsters with the "over eager editor" of your favorite monster magazine, if your Uncle Forry had forced wet kisses on you? If he had put his hands all over you, pinching your "naughty bottom" and squeezing your "boobies"? If he had enthusiastically related with a big grin how he wanted to strip off your clothes with everybody watching? And if, in the face of your total refusal of any of his attentions every single time you saw him in person, he never didn't try again, and again, and again? And if for years, in between those times, he mailed you letters with pornographic photos, and original stories about how naughty you were, and how he wanted to hurt and abuse you, yet all the while make you weep and beg for more? And if he continued that behavior, despite written and verbal demands to cease, entirely unabashed for more than two decades? No, I can't forget him either -- or how he turned my childhood love of monsters into something adult and truly monstrous. 
Well said. 
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taraco
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January 30th, 2018, 7:43 pm #6

For those who don't know, Lucy Chase Williams is a Vincent Price biographer whose FILMS OF VINCENT PRICE remains the most complete and essential listing of the man's films.

What she has posted here goes far beyond what has been hinted at in fandom before about how he treated her, and is a quite significant moment for both her and the monster record.

And if this has been made public before this, apologies, Lucy. Hope the reveal is part of the healing.

david
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Ted Newsom
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Joined: March 31st, 2005, 11:05 am

January 30th, 2018, 7:46 pm #7

Thank you, Lucy, for going public with this.  I have always been less than specific about this stuff, but I know for a fact it is true and unworthy of joking about, as one cute little funster does above (Sorry, TB. Just not amusing.).  I was there, at Lucy's, one night when one of those faxes came in, and she told me the backstory.  And I was with another woman, also a fan, who asked me to open the big envelope she'd just gotten in the mail. She knew from experience what was within.  Inside was the same sort of stuff Lucy described, European porn pictures, with cutesy, puerile, hand-written personal notations.  And I got it straight from one loyal Forryite who helped him move from the Jon Hall's Semi House on Haunted Hill to the smaller place, there was a whole file of the assorted police reports and official warnings to cease and desist such behavior -- from even more women, over years. Apparently they were souvenirs.  Naturally he and Santa's other elves trashed this material during the move.

My nostalgic fondness for the man is real, and I thanked him in person a few days before his death as the first adult other than my parents to encourage me to write.  A few weeks later at his service, with 500 or 1000 in attendance, I heard my name read among about 40 others from a thank-you list Forry wrote before he passed. 

So, yes, a sci-fi fan icon.  But inescapably, something else as well.
Last edited by Ted Newsom on January 30th, 2018, 9:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Wich2
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Joined: September 12th, 2007, 10:09 pm

January 30th, 2018, 9:06 pm #8

EXACTLY so, Ted. On both counts.

I've heard these stories for years. And more. From gold-standard sources, like the ones above.

And in threads like these at places like this, it has been very, VERY hard not to mention them - when others, yet again, are trying to paint Forrest J. Ackerman not as a standard-issue, warts-bearing human, but as a dewey-eyed, childlike godling.

But like Ted, I never got explicit or specific about these things in public forums. So, please:

Let's finally have an end to considering 4SJ only through rose-colored glasses. And let's finally have an end to tarring and feathering those who don't choose to be so blinded.

And above all: 

THANK YOU, Lucy. Though I did not cause it, I am still sorry for your pain - and that of others like you. And I firmly believe that - in the long run - you are doing everyone, yes, including Forry, a favor.

Even at dark times in the world (ESPECIALLY at dark times in the world?), Facts still matter and Truth still counts.

Sincerely,
-Craig Wichman
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dr gogol
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Joined: March 19th, 2005, 10:10 am

January 30th, 2018, 9:18 pm #9

This is deeply disturbing to read. Only knowing Forry, from a distance I cannot say this is shocking. Having visited the Glendale house in his later years, it was obvious that there was a "dirty old man" aspect too him. Lucy, the courage you display is inspiring and it is doubtful that many of us single X chromosomes could imagine what you had to endure.
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Joined: April 14th, 2006, 2:34 pm

January 30th, 2018, 9:43 pm #10

I applaud you, Lucy, on coming forth with your story in this public forum.  I'm so sorry and sad that you had to go through this.  I, too, had heard stories, but not having to do with you.  I only went to his home once, and what I remember more than anything was the preponderance of sexually explicit art and a few things that were said.  I'm certainly no prude, but that was weird enough for me to not have any desire to ever return there.  I, too, have felt really uncomfortable about some of the fawning that has gone on about the man. Certainly, he was an important figure in the lives of many of us Monster Kids, but treating somebody like a god when it's hard to believe anyone isn't aware of this side of him -- even if they don't know the gory details -- is hard to believe.  Regardless, I always knew you were a brave woman, and reading your post only makes me prouder to consider you a friend.  It is not always easy being a female in this world, and I can only imagine how much tougher it is when you're a part of a primarily male-dominated arena like classic monsters.  You probably felt very much alone during much of this time. Wish I had known, because I would have been on your side from Day One.  Which reminds me, we're overdue for our next lunch together!  So proud to know you!
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davlghry
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Joined: January 7th, 2005, 11:47 pm

January 30th, 2018, 9:45 pm #11

Thank you, Lucy.

It might be time to un-name Forest J Ackerman Square.  
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TomWeaver999
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Joined: November 22nd, 2004, 3:38 am

January 30th, 2018, 9:52 pm #12

Eric Caidin used to regularly receive in the mail big manila envelopes of kiddie porn magazines from "Uncle Forry" -- Eric had NO idea why FJA thought Eric would want to see that stuff, told him to stop, begged him to stop, and eventually was thinking about hollering cop because he felt that someday there'd be a cop at HIS (Eric's) door.

I've seen some of the FJA-to-Lucy faxes too, and they're even more disgusting than you guys think they are.

And I've heard several other stories.

I don't care if he did publish a kiddie monster magazine, have tons of stills and 100,000 books which he never read (did he ever read a book in his lifetime?). For years while he was alive, I happily made this clear, and I'm glad to continue making it clear: He disgusts me.
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Wich2
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January 30th, 2018, 10:18 pm #13

LucyChaseWilliams wrote:Speaking of "failures" (!), I guess this is the time to remind the boys here of #MeToo.
Lucy, this is one (very old!) "boy" who very much supports MeToo and Time'sUp.

“There's an east wind coming all the same, such a wind as never blew on (us) yet. It will be cold and bitter ... and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it's God's own wind none the less and a cleaner, better stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared.”

― Arthur Conan Doyle, "His Last Bow"
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Rakshasa
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Joined: March 14th, 2005, 9:48 am

January 30th, 2018, 10:25 pm #14

Bravo, Lucy. 

I'm so sorry this happened to you. 

Sounds like Ackerman truly was a monster -- and a disgrace of a human being. 
Hey, how much for the Buick?
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HalLane
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January 30th, 2018, 10:36 pm #15

Ms. Williams, as the father of two genre-loving daughters, your post has affected me in a very real and disturbing way. I applaud your strength and courage.
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taraco
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January 31st, 2018, 12:41 am #16

So folks know, we are treating this as a news story and expect it will be widely read from beyond the classic horror community.
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Wich2
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January 31st, 2018, 12:46 am #17

Salute, boss.

Fresh air and sunshine are great disinfectants.

(As well as healing elements.)
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Joined: April 12th, 2011, 4:15 pm

January 31st, 2018, 12:47 am #18

taraco wrote: So folks know, we are treating this as a news story and expect it will be widely read from beyond the classic horror community.
And this is exactly why women don't want to come forward.
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taraco
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January 31st, 2018, 12:53 am #19

Understood, but not sure how else to handle this. Hopefully, the times are changing -- or have already changed --  and open discussions about what used to be secrets can take place with dignity and respect.
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Crow T Robot
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January 31st, 2018, 1:20 am #20

Many women don't report these things for many reasons.  It's embarrassing.  It's degrading.  People don't believe them.  They're called liars.  Some people say they must have asked for it. 

This stuff has been going on for the longest time.  I was engaged to a girl who was gang raped and beaten to an inch of her life.  She was the sweetest, kindest person you could ever meet.  Loved everyone.  But after that event she had a nervous breakdown and committed suicide.  Perhaps she no longer wanted to live in a world with that type of evil in it.   We'll never know.  I can say this:  When the police were asking me questions concerning the assault, one of them said, "Did she dress provocatively?  Do you think that the guys who did this thought she might have been asking for it by the way she dressed?"  That was the mentality back then (the late 70s).

I've worked at rape crisis centers.  We've tried to help women who have been abused, assaulted, raped and harassed.  Many women don't report sexual assault and abuse. 

How many times do we hear reports of celebrities doing things like this?  Many of them say, "It was consensual."  Or, "She's just trying to get money out of me."  It's the old "He says / she says."  And sadly, many people don't believe it.  They often called guys like that "Womanizers," or "P*ssy hounds."   Perhaps they should be called what they are - sexual harassers and sexual batterers. 

Even sadder, we have a President who talked about grabbing women by the genitals and then blew it off with a smile on his face as "Locker Room Talk," as though that made it OK to say. 

Sorry.  It isn't. 

I applaud Lucy Chase Williams for having the strength to come forward and shed light on this.  It's been know for years, and just hasn't been talked about.  Why?  Who knows.  Didn't want to tarnish the reputation of someone?  Better left hidden? 

I'm so proud of the #Metoo movement.  It's time to take the stigma of being assaulted away. 
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