The International Costumers Guild is posting a series of short video tributes to the pioneers and superstars of convention masquerades
The trailer “15 Costumers You Should Know” credits Forry Ackerman as the “Father of Convention Costuming” – he wore a “futuristicostume” made by Myrtle Douglas at the first Worldcon in 1939. The series will revisit the historic work of fans Kathy Sanders, Bruce & Dana MacDermott, Karen Schaubelt Turner Dick, Animal X, Jacqueline Ward, Janet Wilson Anderson, Deborah K. Jones, Pierre & Sandy Pettinger, Barb Schofield, Adrian Butterfield and Ricky Dick.
See more at the IGC Archives.
Aaaargh. Ackerman was always clear, whenever the topic came up in any interviews I’ve seen, that the costumes were entirely Myrtle Douglas’s idea and work, and all he did was model one of them. How this leads to Ackerman and not Douglas being credited as the founder of fan costuming is an enduring mystery to me.
@Petréa: Good point. I actually spent some time trying to figure out who the “15 costumers” of the title were. I couldn’t reach a total of 15 costumers named in the trailer unless I counted Myrtle Douglas, so I concluded she must be part of that elevated group.
Ackerman himself in “I Remember Morojo” credits her with a leading role in early costuming —
“She designed & executed my famous ‘futuristicostume’ – and her own – worn at the First World Science-Fiction Convention, the Nycon of 1939. In 1940 at the first Chicon she and I put on a skit based on some dialog from THINGS TO COME, and won some kind of prize. In 1941 at the Denvention she wore a Merrittesque AKKA-mask (frog face) devised by the then young & as yet unknown master filmonster model maker & animator, Ray Harryhausen. In 1949 at the Pacficon in LA, I understand she created a sensation as A. Merritt’s Snake Mother…”
However, it seems a fact of fannish historiography that people keep having to rediscover Morojo/Myrtle Douglas, or have her significance pointed out (as Robert Lichtman does on eFanzines.)
Ackerman, of course, surpassed all others at drawing fannish attention to himself and would have loved being given that title. Yet I wouldn’t be surprised if naming Ackerman the father of costuming a couple decades ago was not so much about Ackerman but a move designed to catch some of his reflected glory for costumers, who at times have felt pushed to the margins by conrunners and fanzine fans. Morojo probably never entered the equation back then. Naming her among the 15 helps right the historic imbalance.