In the mid-1950s, a grotesque costume turned Ricou Browning from a soft-spoken family man into an ugly "gill man," also known as the "Creature from the Black Lagoon."
Now remembered along with King Kong and Godzilla as one of the most horrific monsters of the silver screen, Browning had the underwater role of the amphibious monster in the Universal Studios black-and-white horror flick, originally shot in 3-D. Browning then continued filling that role in two sequels, "Revenge of the Creature" and "The Creature Walks Among Us."
According to Browning, the underwater portions of the film were shot at Silver Springs, Wakulla Springs and in a tank at Marineland in St. Augustine. While professional actors played the creature on land, Browning donned the full-body suit for the underwater scenes.
"It was cumbersome at first," Browning recalled. "When I first put it on, it seemed awkward and clumsy. But, once I got into the movie, I forgot I had it on. I became the creature."
While Browning's swimming ability made him a perfect candidate for the monster's role, his daughter, Renee Le Feuvre, who is working on her dad's biography, remembers him as a mild-mannered, but fun, family man. She recalled the exotic animals he brought home in a day when a permit for such pets wasn't required.