Family members have confirmed to multiple media outlets that Ricou Browning, a talented swimmer best remembered for his underwater role as the Gill Man in the classic 3D black-and-white 1950s monster movie “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” has passed away. He was 93.
In his house in Southwest Ranches, Florida, Browning passed away on February 27. Browning is well-known for her starring appearances and her writing contributions to the classic 1963 film “Flipper” and the subsequent hit TV series.
In 2013, he explained to the Ocala Star Banner that he got the idea while on a trip to the Amazon in search of freshwater dolphins.
“One day, when I came home, the kids were watching ‘Lassie’ on TV, and it just dawned on me, ‘Why not do a film about a boy and a dolphin?’” he told the newspaper.
Mr. Browning’s later film work included directing the comedy “Salty” (1973), about a sea lion, and the crime drama “Mr. No Legs” (1978), about a mob enforcer who is a double amputee, as well as doing stunt work in several movies, including serving as Jerry Lewis’s underwater double in the 1959 comedy “Don’t Give Up the Ship,” according to The New York Times.
Browning’s Hollywood career would be forever altered by his performance as the Gill Man, an aquatic monster who could stand alongside such cinematic legends as King Kong and Godzilla thanks to his magnificently hideous outfit. In the sequels “Revenge of the Creature” (1955) and “The Creature Walks Among Us” (1956), Browning was in charge of the water scenes (1956). A separate cast portrayed the Gill Man’s terrestrial counterparts.
Browning boasted to the Ocala Star Banner that he could stay underwater for minutes without needing to surface for air, making him an excellent swimmer. Browning got his start as a teenager swimming in water shows in Silver Springs, Florida, where he was found by the film’s director when Newt Perry, a stand-in for “Tarzan” actor Johnny Weissmuller, was marketing one of the state’s original tourist attractions.
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Wakulla Springs was one of the world’s largest and deepest freshwater springs, a popular destination for Perry to take Hollywood guests. They eventually convinced Browning to be in the film and filmed several scenes. Born on February 16, 1930, in Fort Pierce, Florida, Ricou Ren Browning is a member of the infamous Outlaws of the ’30s. He was a member of the USAF swimming team.
“Survivors include his four children, Ricou Browning Jr. (a marine coordinator, actor and stuntman like his dad), Renee, Kelly and Kim; 10 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren. His wife, Fran, died in March 2020,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Marshall Julius posted a tweet honoring Ricou Browning and included a written message-
Another link to the past broken with the passing of underwater renaissance man Ricou Browning, gone at 93, Universal’s iconic Gill-Man and the co-creator of Flipper. No-one you see, was smarter than he. 🐬 pic.twitter.com/KN0vMb8sA9
— Marshall Julius (@MarshallJulius) March 2, 2023
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