We are Monster Kids, there are no ways around it. We love monsters, horror and the art of bringing these terrors to life. To celebrate the approach of haunt season, BTT will feature the men and women who make up our nightmares, and bring them life. These monster makers range from film, television, and even our favorite haunted attractions. From now until the end of haunt season, join us for our “Monday Monster Makers” series, a celebration of the artists, directors, actors, and creators who send the shivers down our necks and make us worried about the things that go bump in the night.
There have been many tag lines for the film “Creature from the Black Lagoon”- Clawing Monster From A Lost Age strikes from the Amazon’s forbidden depths!, Not since the beginning of time has the world beheld terror like this!, or simply Amazing! Startling! Shocking!. The most ironic must be” Creature from a million years ago!… every man his mortal enemy… and a woman’s beauty his prey” due to the the fact that the iconic “Gil-Man” was created by a woman: “The Beauty Who Created The Beast”- Milicent Patrick.
The life of Milicent Patrick is even more mysterious than the creatures she created. In 1915 Milicent Patrick was born to architect CC Rossi who helped design the Hearst estate. While researching Patrick she seems to make a lot of claims- that she was born an Italian baroness, that she was the first female animator at the Walt Disney studios, and she was “sketching film fashions at paramount studios at age 15”. What is known, is that Milicent Patrick began her acting and modeling career at age of 37 with a small uncredited role in The World at His Arms. It was there she showed some of her sketches to Bud Westmore the head of the Universal Makeup Department. After, she began working as a “makeup illustrator” on an Errol Flynn film and worked her way up from there. Patrick created and designed the look of Mr. Hyde in Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the Xenomorphs in the b-picture This Island Earth and of course the iconic Gil-Man himself from Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Seeing themselves with a major PR opportunity on their hands when “Creature” wrapped with the stunning, beautiful Milicent Patrick as the Gil-Man’s maker , studio heads sent her off on a national press tour to promote Creature From The Black Lagoon with the original billing of the “Beauty Who Created The Beasts”. However, this billing was quickly changed to the “Beauty Who Lives With the Beasts”. While inter department memos claim that this was a way to promote other Universal makeup works, it was also a way to placate the often hardheaded Westmore, whom Universal personnel worried would be upset to find that they had attributed the work to anyone besides him.
While Milicent Patrick was on her PR tour for Creature from the Black Lagoon, Bud Westmore (according to inter-department letters) found out that the work was not attributed to him in several newspapers and Patrick had been (rightly) attributed to the artwork. He made it very well known in the office that she would no longer be used as a sketch artist. After her PR tour concluded, Milicent Patrick was “let go” from the studio. Who knows how history (and horror films!) would have shaped if Milicent Patrick would have remained at Universal?
Not much is known about Milicent Patrick after she was let go. The Screen Actors Guild lists her as one of the “missing”. She married Lee Trent (a successful businessman) and would often make an appearance on the society pages. She died in 1998 at the age of 82. There are not a lot of memorials to her, and her work, even at the Universal parks, which are always great about honoring their artists.
Tune in every Monday for more Monster Maker mayhem, where we will explore different people from the haunt industry, and the monsters they create.
If you know of someone you’d like to see featured, or if you make monsters yourself, email us at Staff@behindthethrills.com.