Forrest J. Ackerman is the world's greatest private collector of memorabilia from horror films, science fiction epics, and monster movies. Mr. Ackerman, a pleasantly eccentric fellow, began his collection back in the late 1920's; after 60+ years he has amassed a staggering hoard of over 400,000 items. His collection fills his 18-room house in Griffith Park, which Forrest has transformed into a virtual museum of horror and sci-fi movies. Fans call it "The Ackermansion."
Mr. Ackerman claims to have personally coined the expression "sci-fi"; he won the first Hugo Award, and he was the publisher of the well-known horror magazine "Famous Monsters" back in the 1950's. He has also made cameo appearances in dozens of sci-fi films and in Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video (he can be seen in the movie theatre, munching popcorn).
His world-class collection of movie lore includes actual life-masks taken from all three of the leading "monster" actors: Lon Chaney Jr. ("The Wolfman"), Boris Karloff ("Frankenstein") and Bela Lugosi ("Dracula");
the original female robotrix (Maria) from the 1926 silent epic "Metropolis," the "Star Child" (from "2001: A Space Odyssey"), King Kong's paw, the arm from "The Thing" and the golden idol Indiana Jones snatched from the temple in "Raiders of the Lost Ark..." to name just a few.
Forrest has the original black cape and ring worn by Bela Lugosi in "Dracula," tribbles from "Star Trek," the model of the White House destroyed during ''Earth Versus the Flying Saucers," one of the creatures from the Cantina scene in "Star Wars," as well as the alien head in the crystal jar that was featured in the original, nightmarish "Invaders from Mars." His vast collection includes 125,000 movie-stills, 50,000 books, old movie posters, Gold pulp magazines, comic books, movies on video, horrifying monster masks and mannequins, old movie sets, movie props, shrunken heads... in total, it's worth well over $5 million.
Forrest Ackerman's extraordinary collection is open to the public, and admission is free. But the hours are irregular. Since this is a private collection, it is only shown when Mr. Ackerman has an Open House. Fortunately, he usually has an Open House every Saturday that he is at home, usually from 10 AM to 12 noon (and he's home about 40 weeks out of the year). So phone ahead, for a recorded message that will tell you if he's planning an Open House that Saturday, or phone on Saturday morning to reach him live. Arrive early, since the "Ackermansion" is located on a narrow hillside road with very little parking.
In fact, over the years quite a number of Hollywood stars have actually visited the Ackermansion in person (and signed his guestbook), including: Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price, John Carradine, Jane Seymour, Anthony Perkins ("Psycho"), Vampira, Mark Hamill & Carrie Fisher ("Star Wars"), George Takei ('Sulu' on "Star Trek"), John Payne, Eleanor Parker, John Agar, special effects greats Ray Harryhausen and George Pal, Mayor Tom Bradley, Caroline Kennedy, authors Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison, and Robert Heinlein, producers/directors Gene Roddenberry ("Star Trek"), Steven Spielberg ("E.T."), John Landis ("An American Werewolf in London"), Joe Dante ("Gremlins"), Fritz Lang ("Metropolis," "M"), Clive Barker (Hellraiser"), and Tobe Hooper ("Texas Chainsaw Massacre"). So you never know whom you might bump into during a visit...
Rumor has it that the 80+-year-old Forrest may soon relocate his collection to a museum in Europe, so you'd better hurry!
Getting there: Forrest Ackerman's house is located in the east Hollywood Hills (in the lower southern section of Griffith Park) on Glendower Avenue. / From the Hollywood (101) Freeway, take the Western Avenue exit, and go north on Western (one mile) to where it rounds the bend and becomes Los Feliz. Take Los Feliz east, past Ferndell (about 3/4 of a mile), to Catalina Street. Turn left (north) on Catalina Street and take it up, bearing left at the fork (with Glencairn Road), up to a hairpin turn, after which the street becomes Glendower Avenue. The big white house on the right is number 2495.
[To learn more about the Ackermansion, you can access Forrest's own website at: http://www.best.com/~4forry.]
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