Ricou Browning, whose credits include Creature from the Black Lagoon, Thunderball, and Flipper, has passed away at 93
There’s sad news to report this evening, as it has been announced that Ricou Browning – who was the last surviving actor to have played a classic Universal Monster, since he portrayed the Gill-Man in the underwater scenes in all three entries of the Creature from the Black Lagoon trilogy; Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Revenge of the Creature (1955), and The Creature Walks Among Us (1956) – has passed away at the age of 93. The Hollywood Reporter notes that his daughter Kim confirmed he passed away yesterday, just eleven days after his birthday.
Born in Fort Pierce, Florida on February 16, 1930, Browning started his career in the entertainment industry by working in water shows at tourist attractions and performing in underwater newsreels. (Along the way, he was also on the U.S. Air Force swim team.) When Gill-Man scenes were being filmed for Creature from the Black Lagoon in Florida, the crew chose Browning to play the swimming creature because he was a strong swimmer and could hold his breath for four minutes.
After working on the Creature trilogy, Browning found work directing the underwater sequences in the classic James Bond movie Thunderball, as well as the Thunderball remake Never Say Never Again. He is the co-creator of Flipper and directed 37 episodes of the show during its original 1964 – 1967 run. He followed that friendly dolphin story by directing and co-writing the film Salty, about a friendly sea lion. Then he co-wrote the 1980 horror movie Island Claws, about giant crabs that were definitely not friendly. He worked as a stuntman on the 1954 film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, doubled for Jerry Lewis on Don’t Give Up the Ship, and said he played all the bad guys in the TV series Sea Hunt. He supervised the underwater photography on that series and the show The Aquanauts. He directed the underwater sequences for the 1969 film Hello Down There, and was a second unit director on the films Around the World Under the Sea, Island of the Lost, Hot Stuff, Raise the Titanic, Nobody’s Perfekt, Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach, and Caddyshack (where he directed the “candy bar in the pool” sequence). He was the stunt coordinator on The Heavenly Kid and Opposing Force.
In addition to Salty and episodes of Flipper, Browning directed episodes of the TV shows Primus and Gentle Ben, and the 1978 action film Mr. No Legs.
Browning is survived by his children Ricou Browning Jr. (who is a marine coordinator, actor, and stuntman like his father), Renee, Kelly, and Kim. He was preceded in the death by his wife, Fran, who passed away in March of 2020.
Our sincere condolences go out to Ricou Browning’s family, friends, and fans.
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