A few months ago, a friend of mine came across a photo on the Universal Monsters Instagram page of Millicent Patrick in the process of creating the Creature for the Black Lagoon.
Immediately we thought of recreating a few of her imagine with the creature’s mask because she just looks so great posing with her beloved monster.
I already had the Lolita top from Pinup Girl Clothing, which was basically identical to the one in Millicent’s photos. I also had black suede heels, a vintage pearl necklace passed down to me, and earrings from one of my favorite jewelry designers, Insect Diva. Although the earrings aren’t identical, the general shape and color of the earrings worked just fine.
Now, I just had to find the perfect black skirt to recreate it. When I first saw the skirt in the photo, I thought it was be impossible to come across something similar. After all, I search through Etsy like its my job. After a lot of searching, I finally came across a black tiered skirt with four velvet strips, made of an unusually thick (and horribly itchy) taffeta-like material. The waist was 2 inches too big but I was not going to pass on this skirt!
Once it arrived and I started carefully examining the skirt, I realized it’s nearly identical to the skirt that she was wearing in her photos. Both our skirts have 4 velvet tiers and a thin velvet waistband, the skirts seem to have the same circumference, and they both seem to be made of this unusual material.
Call me crazy, but after a while I truly started believing that this may be her skirt!
The hardest part (yes, harder than finding the skirt) was purchasing the mask. We went back and forth with various different types of masks. Firstly, these things cost a fortune! So it was a serious investment. Second, some latex masks are poor quality.
Luckily, our beloved Halloween Town in Magnolia Park had the mask we were looking for – somewhat affordable yet not completely lackluster in quality. When I went to purchase, this was actually the last mask they had left. It was definitely meant to be!
The day of the photoshoot I also had a hair cut by the amazing Missy Firestone so I didn’t even have to do my hair. While I usually don’t like updos, we decided to try out a poodle just to see how I’d like it. And to be honest, I absolutely loved it!! It worked with my outfit for Tiki Night and it worked for the photoshoot since Millicent’s hair wasn’t down. She didn’t have a poodle, but a slight variation in image reproductions never hurt anyone!
Of course, the photoshoot itself was all fun and games, however, when you take a step back and realize the history behind the photos, you can’t help but get a little serious.
Millicent Patrick was a talented woman who’s involvement spanned multiple areas of the industry, including music, acting, animation, modeling, and makeup. She was also one of Disney’s first female animators.
Patrick created Dr. Hyde’s look for the 1953 film Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In 1954, she worked on the Gill-Man and created the final approved version of the creature. In order to promote the film, she was sent on a nationwide tour, where she was presented as “The Beauty Who Created the Beast.” The Creature was rightfully her design, but George “Bud” Hamilton Westmore was irritated that he was not credited with the character’s creation. The PR heading was eventually changed to “The Beauty Who Lives with Beasts,” as a way to encompass all the other works she’s done, and to calm the hotheaded Westmore. He started spreading rumors that the creature was completely his own creation, not mentioning her and trying his hardest to discredit her. He went so far that she was essentially exiled from the makeup department at Universal.
As a result of this mess, Patrick essentially disappeared from entirely from the Industry. Very little is known about what else she did afterwards, although people are certain she starred in 21 roles as an actress within two decades. She passed away in February of 1998, with little awareness of her true talent and contributions to the horror genre.
This photoshoot was very significant because I had the opportunity to honor a talented woman whose contributions were swept under the rug simply not to risk irritating a male counterpart. She is the creator, and truly deserves the title of “The Beauty Who Created the Beast.”