For those who have been following Universal Monsters Universe, we have an ongoing series of articles called “Meet The Monsters,” where we chronicle an actor and actress who portrayed a Universal Monster. We have featured Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, Jr., Boris Karloff, Claude Rains, and Elsa Lanchester.
In this special edition of “Meet the Monsters”, we will be featuring two actors from The Creature From the Black Lagoon, Ben Chapman and Ricou Browning. Chapman played the Creature on land and Browning played the Creature in the water. Universal’s Creature series are known as one of the most iconic of monster films and the last of the classic monsters for the legendary studio that gave us Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Mummy. Universal’s Creature from the Black Lagoon introduced the world to the lovable Gill-Man; a monster yet to properly be remade (not counting The Monster Squad.) He was played by a few different actors, but it was Ricou Browning who portrayed him across the 1954 original, and Revenge of the Creature, along with The Creature Walks.
Ricou Browning was born November 23, 1930 in Fort Pierce, Florida. He attended Florida State University where he majored in physical education. Browning performed in water shows before landing the underwater role of the Creature. He starred in two sequels, Revenge of the Creature and The Creature Walks Among Us. Browning would later go on to co-write and co-produce the movie, and later classic TV show, Flipper. Ricou Browning is the only surviving Universal Monster actor. He would continue to do underwater stunts and guest spots on various television programs. He has one son, Ricou Browning, Jr. who is an underwater cinematographer and stuntman.
The Creature From the Black Lagoon was one of the later monsters to be introduced to the Universal Monsters line-up yet still has a prominent following. Ben Chapman and Ricou Browning preserved the Creature’s legacy in their own ways. With Scarlett Johansson being considered in a remake, we here at Universal Monsters Universe knew it was only right to pay homage to the men behind the Creature.
(Joe Grodensky – @joegrodensky)