‘Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey’ Director Receives Death Threats

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Actor and stuntman, Ricou Browning, who played the Gill-Man monster (underwater) in The Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954) died of natural causes this past Monday. His daughter Kim told The Hollywood Reporter that her dad passed away at his home in Florida, “He had a fabulous career in the film industry, providing wonderful entertainment for past and future generations.”

Browning was the Hollywood go-to for underwater stunts (It should be noted that actor Ben Chapman played the Gill-Man creature on land.). He may be famous for his work in Lagoon, but he also helped out with productions that featured bodies of water as a location. For instance, he assisted Richard Fleischer in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) and “played all the bad guys,” in the popular late 50s TV adventure series Sea Hunt starring Lloyd Bridges.

Beyond that, he helped out James Bond on movies such as Thunderball and Never Say Never Again. But he was also responsible for directing the Jaws-like “Doodie” scene in Caddyshack.

With all of his success in Hollywood, Browning will always be remembered as one of Universal’s original classic monsters, right up there with Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. The Creature From the Black Lagoon didn’t come until later in the canon of Universal’s monsters; it was released in 1954. By then Dracula was 20 years its senior and The Wolf Man, 10.

Additionally, Browning’s performance ended Universal’s run on great horror films. After 1954, there were no real movies of note within that universe. He had become an all-star in the exclusive cache of black-and-white horror movies of the era and a legacy within the company.

In an interview, Browning said that his underwater suit was cumbersome at the start of filming, “But once I got into the movie, I forgot I had it on. I became the creature.”

When asked in 2019 about the rubber suit and if water ever got into it, Browing said, “No. The lips of the suit sat about a half-inch from my lips, and I put the air hose in my mouth to breathe. I would hold my breath and go do the scene, and I’d have other safety people with other air hoses to give me air if I needed it. We had a signal. If I went totally limp, it meant I needed it. It worked out well and we didn’t have any problems.”

One of his surviving daughters, Renee, said of her father’s dedication to water and the animals who live in it:

“Every time he got an idea for a movie, he would bring the animals home,” she said. “We had a sea lion that sat at the dinner table. … We had otters, a baby black bear and a female peacock that would sit on our shoulder and drink iced tea out of our glass. All the kids in the neighborhood wanted to come over our house, because it was like a zoo.”

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