Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 21st, 2008
Ben Chapman, 82, has passed away this morning, February 21, 2008, at 12:15 AM Hawaii time.
Chapman was admitted to the hospital two days ago and died peacefully in his hospital bed. He had a living will and his life support was disconnected yesterday about noon Hawaii time. The family will be having a memorial service at a Catholic Church located near the beach and he will be cremated.
Ricou Browning (l) and Ben Chapman (r) both played the Creature (Browning in the water & Chapman on land).
The 6′ 5″ Ben Chapman during the filming of the movie.
Ben Chapman was born in Oakland, California, while his Tahitian parents were on a trip to the United States. He was raised in Tahiti, relocated to the U.S. in 1940 and went to school in the Bay Area of San Francisco. Working as a Tahitian dancer in nightclubs led to his first movie job, a bit in MGM’s “Pagan Love Song” (1950); other small film roles followed before Korean War duty temporarily sidetracked his modest screen career.
Talent scouts from Universal-International “discovered” Chapman upon his return, and for a year he became a U-I stock player–and, at six-foot-five, an ideal choice for the finny title role in Jack Arnold’s Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Chapman is the Creature in scenes where the camera is out of water; Ricou Browning is the Creature in scenes where the camera is underwater.
Ben is the cousin of screen actor, Jon Hall.
The role of the “creature” in Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) came after a meeting with Jonny Rennig (she worked with many cowboys and stuntmen) when he had dropped into the casting office. Ben also worked bartending roles between night club gigs and movies. He was tending bar when he first met Peter Lawford and later Jack Kennedy when he was still a Senator and would later enjoy parties at the Lawford’s home.
Most recently Chapman resided in Oahu, Hawaii.