For years, a rumor has circulated that John Chambers, famed Academy Award-winning Hollywood special effects man, manufactured the suit allegedly worn by the ostensible Bigfoot pictured in the famed Patterson Film that spawned renewed interest in the creature.
The controversy peaked in 1997, on the thirtieth anniversary of the filming, when press accounts from around the world recycled this rumor without benefit of a personal interview with Chambers. Typical of the headlines is one that appeared in London’s Sunday Telegraph for October 19, 1997: “Hollywood admits to Bigfoot hoax.” The article reads in part:
A piece of film, which for thirty years has been regarded as the most compelling evidence for the existence of Bigfoot, the North American “abominable snowman,” is a hoax, according to new claims. John Chambers, the man behind the Planet of the Apes films and the elder statesman of Hollywood’s “monster-makers,” has been named by a group of Hollywood makeup artists as the person who faked Bigfoot.
In an interview with Scott Essman, an American journalist, the veteran Hollywood director John Landis… said: “That famous piece of film of Bigfoot walking in the woods that was touted as the real thing was just a suit made by John Chambers.” He said he learned the information while working alongside Mr. Chambers on Beneath the Planet of the Apes in 1970.
On October 26, 1997, California Bigfoot researcher Bobbie Short interviewed Chambers, living in seclusion in a Los Angeles nursing home. The makeup artist insisted he had no prior knowledge of Roger Patterson or Bob Gimlin before their claimed Bigfoot encounter on October 20, 1967. He also denied having anything to do with creating the suit, and blamed the Hollywood rumor mill. Chambers went on to say that he was “good” but he “was not that good” to have fashioned anything nearly so convincing as the Bluff Creek Bigfoot.
As stated in the article, the well-known movie director John Landis has claimed that Chambers not only made the Patterson suit but helped make the film. For just as long people have pointed to Landis as the one from whom they heard the story, not Chambers. But Chambers himself says the only Bigfoot he made was the “Burbank Bigfoot,” a large stone prop intended to imitate a real Bigfoot-like creature and used for a carnival tour.
The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters,Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature
Written by Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark – Copyright 1999 Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark