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Hillinger Meets Ackerman; Hard Times for the Angels, April 8, 1969

April 8, 2009 |  6:00 am

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"UCLA recently spent $35,000 on a collection of science fiction. The books they purchased wouldn't begin to fill one of my rooms."
Chuck Hillinger visits Forrest  Ackerman, who "lives in a 13-room house crawling with the monsters that once roamed the back lots of Hollywood film studios."

"Science fiction writer Ray Bradbury describes the monster mansion as 'one of the most fantastic homes on this planet.'

"The large Spanish-style house on a quiet Los Angeles residential street also contains the most complete science fiction library in existence.

"It is also crammed with movie posters from science fiction and horror films dating back to the 20s with life masks of Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Peter Lorre and others."

" 'I suppose some people might think I'm a damn fool,' said Ackerman as he sat in his study thumbing through a recent copy of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazines."
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Thanks to the "new, improved" Typepad, this thumbnail is fuzzy. The actual story is readable.
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It's a great day for comics. "Li'l Abner" features "Fearless Fosdick," Al Capp's satire of Chester Gould's "Dick Tracy." I wonder how "Fearless Fosdick" would be received today if it were a new comic.

Some people say Gould hated "Fearless Fosdick," but I don't believe it. Here's a great response in a panel of "Dick Tracy": "When you can't laugh at yourself or name or background, your inferiority complex is the biggest thing you got."

The pressure was on in Anaheim to win now.

The Angels were no longer a hopeful expansion team--that would be their opposition Opening Night in Orange County, the Seattle Pilots. Instead, they were a struggling franchise that had yet to find its fan base. Here's how The Times' Ross Newhan advanced the new season: "Incentive belongs to the California Angels. The word is survival."

Not only had the Angels struggled on the field with 95 losses in 1968, few people were showing up. "Season sales have dipped 1,500 from the 5,500 of last year. Attendance has fallen 300,000 from the first year in Anaheim," Newhan reported. And forget about selling out the opener--only 15,000 people were expected.

A few days later, columnist John Hall put it bluntly: "The honeymoon is not only long over, but it appears the entire marriage between Anaheim and the Angels is on the rocks. Even more distressing than the slim 11,930 crowd for the season opener  were the Friday and Saturday night counts of 9,174 and 10,609 for the prime time first weekend against Minnesota, always one of the best road draws in the American League."

Orange County's population growth was still a few seasons away as was any tradition of winning in Anaheim. Both helped cure the Angels' attendance woes.

--Keith Thursby


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The pitcher's mound is lowered 5 inches and now looks like a "pancake on a griddle."

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