American film director, actor, producer, screenwriter, underwater cinematographer and stuntman Ricou Browning has died.
He was 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 but Browning was the only actor to have portrayed the creature more than once.
He was the last surviving Gill-man actor, and the last surviving original actor to portray any of the Universal Classic Monsters.
Browning’s Daughter shared a statement on her Facebook:
It is with deep sorrow I post the passing of a Literal Legend, Ricou Browning, Rhiannon’s Great Grandpa. The Creature from the Black Lagoon was always a treat to be around. A man of little words, but a quick wit and a flashy smile. He liked Pepperoni pizza with extra cheese and his old Westerns on the big screen.
He loved my Betty dog so much he wanted to keep her last time we took her to Florida to spend Christmas with him.
I’m gonna miss throwing my arms around him for a big hug. Even sitting in a wheelchair, he was larger than life.
Rest easy, Mr. Ricou. You’ve earned it.
Browning started a career in water shows, moving on to produce shows.
He moved into movies in 1954, playing the underwater role of the Gill-man in Creature from the Black Lagoon (while Ben Chapman played the monster on land), a feat he repeated in two sequels. He continued in movie production and joined Ivan Tors’ studios in Florida, where he co-wrote and co-produced the 1963 MGM film Flipper and 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 movie Salty (1973) 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).
Browning became a popular guest on the Comic Con Convention circuit.