Remembering Walt Daugherty

Journey into the Imagination... The World of Sci Fi

Forry Ackerman and Walt Daugherty

Excerpts from “The Early Days of Science Fiction in Los Angeles” by Walter J. Daugherty (from "Ray Bradbury: Surround Yourself with Your Loves and Live Forever" - edited by John L. Coker III)

“What I remember first reading were fantasy types of things, adventure stories such as pirates. I enjoyed the adventures of Flash Gordon and Prince Valiant in the newspaper comic strips. I remember characters from books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Then I discovered science fiction, and that was it for me. I loved reading H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. ... At that time there were so few science fiction magazines out... that it was possible to read all of them from cover to cover, then reread them... We were all
starved for science fiction.

Of course I had heard of Forry Ackerman, the enthusiastic fan that had letters to the editors printed in every issue of the magazines... They met in the little brown room at Clifton’s Cafeteria. During this particular meeting Ackerman was holding a quiz. When I came into the room, they sat me down with paper and pencil. I took the quiz and won the prize for the evening. It was an item from Forry’s huge collection... Forry had so much material that duplicates were stored in his garage.”

And so began a lifelong friendship with 4E Ackerman and a life trek into sci fi fandom.
The Four Musketeers
Forry Ackerman, Ray Harryhausen,
Ray Bradbury, Walt Daugherty
LASFS Reunion
The Birth of Westercon
Excerpts from “Triviabilia #12: Westercon How It All Began” and “The Early Days of Science Fiction in Los Angeles” ("Ray Bradbury: Surround Yourself with Your Loves and Live Forever") by Walt Daugherty

“Because of the depression only Forrest J, Morojo and Ray Bradbury were able to attend the first [World] Con from the west coast, and I vividly recall that local fans waited with “bated breath” for Ackerman to return and give us a full report on what went on at the affair.”

“After Forry returned, I told him that I felt the country was still feeling the Great Depression, and few people could afford to go across the country to attend a convention. I said we should have a one-day gathering in Los Angeles, because it would give us a feel of the world convention.”

“4E answered with a resounding ‘GREAT’. We talked about it a bit more, deciding that we would call it ‘The West Coast Science Fiction Conference”. “I got a list of names together and mimeographed the letters and sent them out. I rented the hall...” “... a two story Union office. We discussed the rent and then found that they could serve us a banquet at a very reasonable price. This added greatly to my enthusiasm for the project... We could have an exhibit in the regular hall of some rare books and original art from 4E’s collection along with some originals I had, and maybe others could furnish us more material for the fans to see... We contacted several pros, among them being Bryce Walton, Claire Winger Harris, and, as luck would have it, we got an OK from Dr. Richardson of the Mount Wilson Observatory who was then the foremost authority in the world on Mars.... On the last day before the event, while at the hall with 4E, EEE (E.E. Evans), and a couple of others, I asked EEE if he would be the MC for the banquet, as I would be so darn busy with the exhibit, ticket collecting, watching out for the exhibit material, etc., And he accepted with reluctance because he figured I should do it.” “We were on our way with the first Westercon, which was successful far beyond our hopes.”

“From then on it grew, and after a few years was taken over by LASFS. When the Fiftieth Westercon was held, I was invited to be guest of honor.”

E.E. Evans, Forry Ackerman & Walt (1946)
Photo from Len Moffatt,
courtesy John L. Coker III

The $1,000 Costume

Android Rejects
The first view of the rejects had closed up costumes with only the head showing, then after an intro by radioman Ron McCoy, the robes suddenly opened and the pair began a wild Latin rhumba.

In no particular order, and with deep gratitude to Forrest J Ackerman’s bios of Walt from Baycon (Worldcon 26) and "Count Dracula Society Quarterly", here’s a most likely incomplete overview of Walt’s life in the world of science fiction fandom.

Walt was:
* Voted to be an honorary charter member of LASFS in gratitude for his service to the club
* A member of First Fandom
* Founder of Westercon
* Creator of the “Fanquet”
* Wearer of the “$1,000 Costume”, at the time the most expensive Worldcon costume ever worn... the first plexiglas space helmet ever seen by fans (an imperfect discard from the aircraft plant where he worked)
* Publisher and recorder of the only “fanzine with round edges”... Shangri-La Record, with FJA as writer and commentator
* Chairman of the 1946 Worldcon 4 (Pacificon)
* Fan guest of honor at 1968’s Worldcon 26 (Baycon)
* Winner of that Baycon’s costume contest with crowd pleasing “android rejects” entry
* First person to record an entire Worldcon (Denver 1941)
* Fanzine editor and publisher (The Rocket, The Pacificonews)
* Recipient of the Evans-Freehafer Big Heart Award
* Emcee for countless conventions, banquets, costume contests and meetings
* Auctioneer “Walt’s dynamic command of fan psychology has frequently caused hidden cash to be extracted from the pockets of scrooges” - FJA (Baycon bio)
* First fan ever to reproduce (in all its intricate detail) a Finlay drawing on stencil
* Sponsor of the Big Heart award for many years until his retirement
* Staff photographer for Famous Monsters of Filmland and other magazines and events
* Guest of honor at Westercon, Fantasy Faire and assorted other conventions of the imagination
* Sgt-at-Arms for The Count Dracula Society and, in founder Don Reed’s words “the power behind the throne”
* Friend to young and old, pro and fan, for a lifetime.

C Copyright Mary Ellen Daugherty 2013

"Watch the Vulture" logo drawn for Walt by Ron Cobb
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