30 Days of The Plaza, Day 18: The Secret Behind the Creature from the Black Lagoon’s Sex Appeal

Posted on: Jun 29th, 2012 By:

 

Millicent Patrick poses with the head she designed of THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. Photo credit: Universal Pictures, 1954.

Silver Scream Spookshow Presents THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON in 3D (1954); Dir: Jack Arnold; Starring Richard Carlson, Julie Adams, Richard Denning and Ricou Browning; Sat. June 30;  kids matinee at 1 PM (kids under 12 free & adults $7) and adult show at 10 PM(all tickets $12); All proceeds of today’s shows benefit Atlanta’s oldest running independent cinema, the nonprofit Plaza Theatre; Trailer here.

All the ladies know that the Creature from the Black Lagoon is the sexiest of the Universal monsters, but do you know why? We asked Professor Morte, the horror host with the most, and he didn’t hesitate to reveal the terrifying truth. His look was designed by a woman – Millicent Patrick.
        For years, make-up artist Bud Westmore hoarded the credit and downplayed Millicent’s role, which went uncredited. Sadly when Universal considered sending the attractive Patrick out on a CREATURE promo tour as “The Beauty Who Created the Beast”  in 1954, Westmore intervened and refused to hire her again, putting a stop to an effects career which also included the mutants in THIS ISLAND EARTH (1955), the masks in ABBOT AND COSTELLO MEET DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1953), THE MOLE PEOPLE (1956) and the Xenomorph from IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE (1953).
       That Millicent was not one to toot her own horn and led a private life did not help in getting the word out about her talented achievements in SFX make-up. What we do know is that she was a strikingly attractive woman and a Disney-employed animator, that she appeared in more than 20 movies and 12 TV series, and she was married and divorced twice to actor George Tobias. She was born Mildred Elizabeth Fulvia di Rossi and may or may not have been an Italian baroness. The Screen Actors Guild has no date for her death and no address since the early 1980s.
Fun facts about The Gill-man suit:
It was made from airtight molded sponge rubber.
It cost $15,000.
The underwater suit was painted yellow to make it easier to see in dark water.
A rubber hose was used to feed air into the suit.
Editor’s note: There aren’t many articles about Millicent Patrick and her work on CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. Thanks to Horror Icon: Millicent Patrick by Mary Parker which appeared in the St. Louis Horror Movies Examiners for much of the material used in this piece. For more information, we’ve been told to dig up Filmfax, issue 100, or Famous Monsters of Filmland, #145.

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