Ricou Ren Browning (February 16, 1930 – February 27, 2023) was an American stunt performer, filmmaker and actor. A skilled swimmer, he was known for his innovative underwater stunt work, notably in the 1954 film Creature from the Black Lagoon, in which he portrayed the titular Gill-man during the film's underwater scenes, and in the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball, where he was the underwater sequences director. He was also the co-creator of the Flipper media franchise.
Ricou Ren Browning
February 16, 1930
Fort Pierce, Florida, U.S.
|Died||February 27, 2023 (aged 93)|
Early life edit
Browning started a career in water shows, moving on to produce shows. Browning worked at Wakulla Springs in the 1940s and learned to perform in underwater newsreels conceived by Newt Perry, who later took Browning along when he opened Weeki Wachee Springs.
While working at Wakulla Springs in 1953, Browning was asked to show around a film crew scouting for shooting locations. According to Browning, "Their cameraman asked if I could swim in front of the cameras so they could get the perspective of the size of a human being against the fish and the grass. So I did." Days later, the crew offered Browning the role of the titular Gill-man in the film Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). Browning accepted, and played the Gill-man in the film's underwater scenes, while actor Ben Chapman played the monster on land. During filming, Browning reportedly held his breath underwater for up to four minutes at a time. Browning reprised his role as the underwater Gill-man in two sequels, Revenge of the Creature (1955) and The Creature Walks Among Us (1956).
Browning continued in movie production and joined Ivan Tors' studios in Florida, where with Jack Cowden he co-wrote and co-produced the 1963 film Flipper (about an intelligent bottlenose dolphin); Browning also directed the second unit underwater scenes for the film. Browning continued writing and directing for the subsequent Flipper television series that debuted in 1964.
He worked as second unit director, stunt coordinator and underwater sequence director on a number of features, including the James Bond films Thunderball (1965) and Never Say Never Again (1983), Around the World Under the Sea (1966), Island of the Lost (1967), Hello Down There (1969), and Caddyshack (1980).
Personal life and death edit
Browning had two sons, Kelly Browning, Ricou Browning, Jr., who is also a marine coordinator, actor, and stuntman. He also had two daughters—Renee, and Kim—along with 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. His wife, Fran, died in March 2020.
Selected filmography edit
As actor/stuntman edit
|1954||Creature from the Black Lagoon||Gill-man||Underwater scenes|||
|1954||20,000 Leagues Under the Sea||—||Stunt diver|||
|1955||Revenge of the Creature||Gill-man||Underwater scenes|||
|1956||The Creature Walks Among Us||Gill-man||Underwater scenes|||
|1964||Flipper's New Adventure||Dr. Burton|||
As director/writer/stunt coordinator edit
|1963||Flipper||Second unit||Co-writer||Yes||Underwater scenes; co-wrote story with Jack Cowden; also associate producer|||
|1965||Thunderball||Second unit||Yes||Underwater scenes|||
|1966||Around the World Under the Sea||Second unit||Diving sequences|||
|1967||Island of the Lost||Second unit||Underwater scenes|||
|1969||Hello Down There||Second unit||Underwater scenes|||
|1973||Salty||Yes||Co-writer||Co-wrote with Jack Cowden|||
|1978||Mr. No Legs||Yes|||
|1979||Hot Stuff||Second unit|||
|1980||Raise the Titanic||Second unit|||
|1980||Island Claws||Co-writer||Co-wrote with Jack Cowden|||
|1981||Nobody's Perfekt||Second unit|||
|1983||Never Say Never Again||Second unit||Underwater scenes|||
|1985||The Heavenly Kid||Yes|||
|1986||Opposing Force||Miami unit|||
|1988||Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach||Second unit|||
As actor/stuntman edit
|1958–1961||Sea Hunt||—||Second unit stunt double; 30 episodes|||
|1960–1961||The Aquanauts[a]||—||Stunt double|||
|1964–1967||Flipper||Water Skier/The Monster||2 episodes: "Lifeguard" and "Flipper's Monster"|||
As director edit
|1958–1961||Sea Hunt||Underwater scenes; multiple episodes|||
- Later known as Malibu Run.
- Genzlinger, Neil (March 5, 2023). "Ricou Browning, Who Made the Black Lagoon Scary, Dies at 93". The New York Times. Retrieved March 5, 2023.
- Freese 2014, p. 30.
- Rizzo, Marian (July 18, 2013). "A Silver Springs story: Ricou Browning was the Creature". Star–Banner. Archived from the original on June 5, 2019. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
- "Wet and Wild: Ricou Browning Will Always Be The Creature from the Black Lagoon". People. Vol. 41, no. 12. April 4, 1994. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
- "Ricou Browning | Florida Artists Hall of Fame". Florida Department of State. Archived from the original on July 29, 2013. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
- Dunne, Susan (August 23, 2016). "Creature From Black Lagoon Resurfacing For CT HorrorFest". Hartford Courant. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
- Kinnard, Roy (1988). Beasts and Behemoths. Scarecrow Press. pp. 68–69. ISBN 978-0810820623.
- Luckhardt, Alice L.; Luckhardt, Greg E. (March 15, 2012). "Martin County's Ricou Browning played the 'Creature from the Black Lagoon'". TCPalm/Treasure Coast Newspapers. Retrieved April 9, 2022.
- McBrayer, Mary Kay (November 19, 2021). "The Immortal Creature: Ricou Browning". Fangoria. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
- O'Barry, Richard; Coulbourn, Keith (2000). Behind the Dolphin Smile: A True Story That Will Touch the Hearts of Animal Lovers Everywhere. St. Martin's Griffin. p. 124. ISBN 978-1580631013.
- Paietta, Ann C.; Kauppila, Jean L. (1994). Animals on Screen and Radio. Scarecrow Press. p. 301. ISBN 978-0810829398.
- Voger, Mark (April 26, 2013). "Ricou Browning performed swimmingly as movie monster". NJ.com. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
- Colton, David (February 19, 2019). "Winners of the (Gasp!) 17th Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards". RondoAward.com.
- Squires, John (February 28, 2023). "Original 'Creature from the Black Lagoon' Performer Ricou Browning Has Passed Away". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved February 28, 2023.
- Squires, John (October 3, 2018). "The Salem Horror Fest Kicks Off Tomorrow, So Be Sure to Get Tickets While You Can!". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
- Hamman, Cody (September 29, 2021). "Creature from the Black Lagoon: Ricou Browning in need of get well cards from fans". JoBlo.com. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
- Freese 2014, p. 31.
- "Marine Coordinator". Marine Coordinator. Archived from the original on January 26, 2021. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
- Barnes, Mike (February 28, 2023). "Ricou Browning, the Gill-Man in 'Creature From the Black Lagoon,' Dies at 93". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 28, 2023.
- Warren, Bill (1997). Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties. McFarland & Company. p. 436. ISBN 9780786404797.
- "Flipper's New Adventure (1964) – Credits". TCM.com. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
- Weaver, Tom; Schecter, David; Kronenberg, Steve (2018). The Creature Chronicles: Exploring the Black Lagoon Trilogy. McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-1476673868.
- Maltin, Leonard (2012). Leonard Maltin's 2013 Movie Guide: The Modern Era. Plume. ISBN 978-0452298545.
- Cocchi, John (1991). Second Feature: The Best of the B's. Citadel Press/Carol Publishing Group. p. 212. ISBN 978-0806511863.
- Hollis, Tim (2006). Glass Bottom Boats & Mermaid Tails: Florida's Tourist Springs. Stackpole Books. p. 131. ISBN 978-0811732666.
- Weaver, Tom (2003). Double Feature Creature Attack: A Monster Merger of Two More Volumes of Classic Interviews. McFarland & Company. p. 108. ISBN 978-0786413669.
- Freese, Gene (2016). Richard Jaeckel, Hollywood's Man of Character. McFarland & Company. p. 134. ISBN 978-1476662107.
- Freese, Gene Scott (1998). Hollywood Stunt Performers: A Dictionary and Filmography of Over 600 Men and Women, 1922–1996. McFarland & Company. p. 26. ISBN 978-0786405114.
- Martin, Scott (2007). The Book of Caddyshack: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Greatest Movie Ever Made. Taylor Trade Publishing. pp. 126, 254. ISBN 978-1589793583.
- Albright, Brian (2012). Regional Horror Films, 1958–1990: A State-by-State Guide with Interviews. McFarland & Company. p. 194. ISBN 978-0786472277.
- "Thrill of the Hunt". Diver Magazine. October 17, 2019. Archived from the original on October 25, 2022. Retrieved October 25, 2022.
- Freese, Gene Scott (2014). Hollywood Stunt Performers, 1910s–1970s: A Biographical Dictionary (second ed.). McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0786476435.