The Science Fiction or Si-Fi world has expanded and captured the minds of many due to its striking details, other worlds, and personable characters. Today it produces TV shows, box office features, and conventions that bring visitors from around the world, but the phrase “Si-Fi” as we know it today was not always common tongue. Forrest J Ackerman, science fiction writer, editor, and avid collector of Si-Fi memorabilia was the first to coin this phrase.
While in college at the University of California Berkeley, Ackerman worked as a movie projectionist at various companies before being enlisted in the U.S. Army. He rose to the rank of staff sergeant and became the editor of the base’s newspaper. This editing experience helped with his next career shift as editor and principal writer of the American magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland. This magazine, published from 1958-1983, included brief articles, publicity stills, and graphic illustrations that highlighted horror movies and their histories throughout its publication.
In 1947, Ackerman created a science fiction literary agency and collaborated with many Si-Fi writers such as Ray Bradbury, L. Ron Hubbard, and A. E. van Vogt. These connections through the Science fiction community also provided Ackerman the opportunity to gather memorabilia from shows, films, conventions, and fans. All of which was housed in his 18-room home and museum known as the “Son of Ackermanison” until his death.
Throughout Forrest J Ackerman’s life, he represented more than 200 writers through his literacy agency, published over 50 books, contributed to film magazines around the world, and introduced the world to the history of science fiction to inspire many artists to pursue their careers in Si-Fi. He has won several awards including the prestigious Hugo Award for “#1 Fan Personality.” Ackerman was the first and only celebrity to receive this special award.
The American Heritage Center’s Forrest J Ackerman collection consists of material relating to Ackerman’s long career in science fiction and a portion of his memorabilia collection, including correspondence, fan mail, speeches, and scripts for movies and television shows.
- Post contributed by AHC Accessioning Unit Supervisor Kelly Miller