R.I.P. Ricou Browning, the aquatic Gill-man in Creature From the Black Lagoon
The underwater legend came back twice more as the Gill-man before creating the ''Flipper'' franchise. He was 93 years old.
Creature From the Black Lagoon star Ricou Browning passed away on February 27. The actor was the menacing Gill-man in the water scenes in the classic 1954 film and the creative force behind the original Flipper movie and television show.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Browning died Monday of natural causes at his Southwest Ranches, Florida home. His daughter, Kim Browning, told the publication, "He had a fabulous career in the film industry, providing wonderful entertainment for past and future generations."
Browning was born on February 16, 1930, in Fort Pierce, Florida. He attended Florida State University and worked as a performer in water shows at Weeki Wachee Springs. He also was on the U.S. Air Force swim team.
The actor, along with his brother-in-law, Jack Cowden, wrote the story for MGM's Flipper (1963), starring Chuck Connors and Luke Halpin. He would later step behind the camera to direct 37 episodes of the 1964 show of the same name.
He also served as a stuntman for Richard Fleischer's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) and doubled for Jerry Lewis in Don't Give Up the Ship (1959). Browning once said in a 2013 interview that he "played all the bad guy's in [TV's] Sea Hunt."
Browning directed various film scenes, including the harpoon-filled fight in Thunderball (1965), an underwater scene in Never Say Never (1983), and a Jaws-inspired "candy bar-in-the-pool" scene in Caddyshack (1980).
Though he had many impressive acting roles and director credits, playing the underwater Gill-man was his most-known. According to Browning, he routinely held his breath for four minutes at a time while filming the Universal Pictures classic.
His costume was memorable for many reasons, but it was awkward when the actor wore it for the first time. "[It] was cumbersome at first. When I first put it on, it seemed awkward and clumsy," he once said. "But once I got into the movie, I forgot I had it on. I became the creature."
The Gill-man joined the Universal monster Hall of Fame along with other classic monsters like Dracula and the Mummy. Browning would return as the Gill-man in the sequel movies, 1955's Revenge of the Creature and 1956's The Creature Walks Among Us.
In 2018, Browning joined the Rondo Hatton Awards Monster Kid Hall of Fame, which would go on to induct Svengoolie — who has praised Creature as one of his favorite movies, and the Gill-man as one of the best Universal monsters — two years later. Browning was 93 years old.