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Ricou Browning, actor with fins in cult classic ‘Creature From the Black Lagoon,’ dies


Ricou Browning, a skilled swimmer best known for his underwater role as Gill Man in the quintessential 1950s 3D black and white monster movie “Creature of the Black Lagoon,” passed away, his family told various media outlets. He turned 93.

Browning died on February 27 at his home in Southwest Ranches, Fla.

In addition to acting roles, Browning worked as a writer on the 1963 film “Flipper” and the hit TV series of the same name that followed.

He told the Ocala (Fla.) Star Banner newspaper in 2013 that he got the idea after a trip to South America to catch freshwater dolphins in the Amazon.

“When I came home one day, the kids were watching ‘Lassie’ on TV, and it hit me, ‘Why not make a movie about a boy and a dolphin?'” he told the newspaper.

Browning directed the 1973 comedy “Salty”, about a sea lion, and the drama “Mr. No Legs”, about a Mafia enforcer who has a double amputee. He also did stunt work in several films, including the role of Jerry Lewis’ underwater double in the 1959 comedy “Don’t Give Up the Ship,” according to the New York Times.

But nothing would mark Browning’s Hollywood career quite like swimming underwater in a lavishly grotesque suit as the Gill Man, a character who would hold his own in the horror flicks alongside monsters like King Kong and Godzilla. Browning did the swimming scenes in two sequels, “Revenge of the Creature” (1955) and “The Creature Walks Among Us” (1956). Other actors played the Gill Man when it was ashore.

Browning told the Ocala Star Banner that he could hold his breath underwater for minutes at a time, making him especially adept at swimming.

He was discovered when the film’s director visited Silver Springs, where Newt Perry, who acted as a stand-in for “Tarzan” actor Johnny Weissmuller, was advertising one of Florida’s first tourist attractions, where Browning got a job as a teenager while he swam in the water. shows.

Perry asked Browning to take visitors from Hollywood to Wakulla Springs, one of the largest and deepest freshwater springs in the world. They later recruited Browning to appear in the movie, which was partially filmed in the sources.

Ricou Ren Browning was born on February 16, 1930 in Fort Pierce, Florida. He swam on the United States Air Force swim team.

Survivors include four children, Ricou Browning Jr., Renee, Kelly and Kim; 10 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren. His wife Fran died in March 2020. His son Ricou Jr. is naval coordinator, actor and stuntman.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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