Ricou Browning

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Ricou Browning
Ricou Browning, March 2019.jpg
Browning in 2019
Born (1930-02-16) February 16, 1930 (age 91)[1]
OccupationFilm director, actor, producer, screenwriter, underwater cinematographer, stuntman
Years active1945–1986

Ricou Browning (born February 16, 1930[1]) is an American film director, actor, producer, screenwriter, underwater cinematographer and stuntman. He is best known for his underwater stunt work, playing the Gill-man in Creature from the Black Lagoon, Revenge of the Creature and The Creature Walks Among Us. Other actors portrayed the creature on land. He is also the only actor to have portrayed the creature more than once. He is the only surviving Gill-man actor, and the last surviving original actor to portray any of the Universal Classic Monsters. Browning also co-created Flipper with Jack Cowden.[2]

Browning made his feature film directorial debut with Salty (1973), which he also co-wrote with Cowden, and went on to direct Mr. No Legs (1978). Browning directed the underwater sequences in 1965's Thunderball, the fourth James Bond film by Eon Productions, as well as the Bond film Never Say Never Again (1983). He also directed the underwater scenes in the comedy films Hello Down There (1969) and Caddyshack (1980). A Florida native,[3] Browning was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2012.[4]

Early life[edit]

Browning was born in Fort Pierce, Florida.[5] He was a major in physical education at Florida State University.[6]

Career[edit]

Ricou Browning in the Gill-man costume, c. 1953

Browning started a career in water shows, moving on to produce shows. Browning worked at Wakulla Springs in the 1940s and learned to perform in underwater newsreels conceived by Newt Perry, who later took Browning along when he opened Weeki Wachee Springs.[4]

While working at Wakulla Springs in 1953, Browning was asked to show around a film crew scouting for shooting locations.[7] According to Browning, "Their cameraman asked if I could swim in front of the cameras so they could get the perspective of the size of a human being against the fish and the grass. So I did."[7] Days later, the crew offered Browning the role of the titular Gill-man in the film Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954).[7] Browning accepted, and played the Gill-man in the film's underwater scenes, while actor Ben Chapman played the monster on land.[8] Browning reprised his role as the underwater Gill-man in two sequels, Revenge of the Creature (1955) and The Creature Walks Among Us (1956).

He continued in movie production and joined Ivan Tors' studios in Florida, where he co-wrote and co-produced the 1963 film Flipper (about an intelligent bottlenose dolphin). Browning continued writing for the subsequent Flipper television series that debuted in 1964. He directed the underwater sequences in Hello Down There (1969), and directed the family film Salty (1973)[7] and the cult film Mr. No Legs (1978). He also worked as second unit director, stunt coordinator and underwater sequence director on a number of features, including Thunderball (1965), Around the World Under the Sea (1966), Island of the Lost (1967), Caddyshack (1980), and Never Say Never Again (1983).[4]

Personal life[edit]

He has a son, Ricou Browning, Jr., who is also a marine coordinator, actor, and stuntman.[7][9][10]

Selected filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

As performer[edit]

Year Title Role Notes Ref(s)
1954 Creature from the Black Lagoon Gill-man Underwater scenes [8]
1954 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea N/A Stunt diver [11][5]
1955 Revenge of the Creature Gill-man Underwater scenes [5]
1956 The Creature Walks Among Us Gill-man Underwater scenes [5]
1964 Flipper's New Adventure Dr. Burton [12]
1995 Behind the Scenes with Thunderball Himself Documentary film
2000 Back to the Black Lagoon: A Creature Chronicle Himself Documentary film
2006 The Witch's Dungeon: 40 Years of Chills Himself Documentary film
2010 Paws, Claws & Videotape Himself Documentary film
2010 Blob Town Himself Documentary film
2011 The Legend of Ivan Tors Himself Documentary film

As director/writer/stunts[edit]

Year Title Director Writer Stunts/stunt coordinator Notes Ref(s)
1965 Thunderball Second unit Yes Underwater scenes [5]
1966 Around the World Under the Sea Second unit Diving sequences
1967 Island of the Lost Second unit Underwater scenes [13]
1969 Hello Down There Second unit Underwater scenes
1973 Salty Yes Co-writer Co-wrote with Jack Cowden
1978 Mr. No Legs Yes
1979 Hot Stuff Second unit
1980 Caddyshack Second unit
1981 Nobody's Perfekt Second unit
1983 Never Say Never Again Second unit Underwater scenes [5]
1985 The Heavenly Kid Yes
1986 Opposing Force Yes Stunt coordinator: Miami
1988 Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach Second unit

Television[edit]

As performer[edit]

Year Title Role Notes Ref(s)
1958 Sea Hunt Carlos Episode: "Pressure Suit"
1965 Flipper Water Skier/The Monster 2 episodes: "Lifeguard" and "Flipper's Monster"

As director[edit]

Year Title Role Notes Ref(s)
1964–1967 Flipper 37 episodes

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Rizzo, Marian (July 18, 2013). "A Silver Springs story: Ricou Browning was the Creature". Star–Banner. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  2. ^ Paietta, Ann C.; Kauppila, Jean L. (1994). Animals on Screen and Radio. Scarecrow Press. p. 301. ISBN 978-0810829398.
  3. ^ Voger, Mark (April 26, 2013). "Ricou Browning performed swimmingly as movie monster". NJ.com. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c "Ricou Browning | Florida Artists Hall of Fame". Florida Department of State. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Freese 2014, p. 30.
  6. ^ "Wet and Wild: Ricou Browning Will Always Be The Creature from the Black Lagoon". People. Vol. 41 no. 12. April 4, 1994. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d e Dunne, Susan (August 23, 2016). "Creature From Black Lagoon Resurfacing For CT HorrorFest". Hartford Courant. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
  8. ^ a b Kinnard, Roy (1988). Beasts and Behemoths. Scarecrow Press. p. 68–69. ISBN 978-0810820623.
  9. ^ Freese 2014, p. 31.
  10. ^ "Marine Coordinator". Marine Coordinator. Archived from the original on January 26, 2021. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  11. ^ Warren, Bill (1997). Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties. McFarland & Company. p. 436. ISBN 9780786404797.
  12. ^ "Flipper's New Adventure (1964) - Credits". TCM.com. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
  13. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2012). Leonard Maltin's 2013 Movie Guide: The Modern Era. Plume. ISBN 978-0452298545.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]