The Woman from the Black Lagoon
Hollywood Monsters and the Misplaced Legacy of Milicent Patrick
by Mallory O’Meara
Paperback ISBN: 9781335010131
Hanover Sq. Press
In the event you’re searching for an excellent learn for October, look no additional than Mallory O’Meara’s e book on Milicent Patrick, the artist who designed the creature within the Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). For a few years Bud Westmore, one of many well-known Westmore brothers who dominated the make-up scene in Hollywood, took credit score for designing the creature. Nevertheless, film monsters have been usually the work of a number of artists together with make-up designers, make-up artists, sculptors, and many others. With Creature from the Black Lagoon, Common was dipping a toe into the world of science fiction and the creature needed to be excellent. Westmore, impressed with Patrick’s inventive eye, employed her as a part of his group. And when it got here time to advertise the ultimate movie, Common despatched Milicent Patrick on a nationwide tour. Westmore was livid that she was getting the entire consideration. Wielding the ability he had in Hollywood because of his identify and the deeply entrenched patriarchy, he fired Milicent Patrick upon her return, basically ending her particular results profession. O’Meara takes the cost to undo this horrible improper together with her wonderful e book, revealing Westmore’s pettiness and Milicent Patrick’s genius whereas shedding mild on an trade that has thrived on suppressing feminine expertise behind the scenes.
“What issues is that Milicent was bringing artwork and monsters to life on-screen and that she was one of many first ladies to take action. She was blazing trails in a male-dominated trade, an trade that’s nonetheless dominated by males.” — Mallory O’Meara
O’Meara’s e book is an element biography, half memoir and half feminist manifesto. Not solely are we taken on a journey by way of Milicent Patrick’s life and profession however we additionally see the lengths O’Meara needed to go to uncover details about this little recognized artist from Hollywood historical past and what her analysis revealed about what ladies must cope with whereas working in style movie. Patrick, who was born Mildred Rossi, was the daughter of an architect who helped design Hearst Fortress and the encompassing property. In reality, she later modified her identify to Milicent as a nod to considered one of her earliest inspirations, Milicent Hearst. Patrick inherited her father’s inventive eye and attended artwork faculty to hone her craft. She was one of many first feminine animators working at Disney. There she animated sequences in Dumbo and Fantasia, specializing in shade strategies, earlier than transferring on to an extended however comparatively unsuccessful profession as an actress. As a proud card carrying SAG member, Milicent Patrick was a background actress in lots of B-movies. She would usually draw on set, catching the attention of fellow actors and of Bud Westmore. When Westmore employed her as a make-up designer (completely different from a make-up artists), she created seems to be for the pirate movie Towards All Flags (1952) and the barbarian make-up for Signal of the Pagan (1954). Working in style movie, she helped design the Xenomorph from It Got here from Outer House (1953), the Metaluna Mutant in This Island Earth (1955), and masks for Abbott and Costello spoofs. Her best and greatest recognized work can be the design for the Creature from the Black Lagoon which continues to be thought of probably the greatest monster motion pictures of all time.
Because the reader learns about Milicent Patrick’s extraordinary but quick lived profession as a make-up designer and monster creator, O’Meara gives a rightfully scathing have a look at an trade that continues to mistreat ladies. The narrative shifts backwards and forwards between Milicent Patrick’s story, the writer’s personal journey as a producer within the horror movie trade and her work researching for the e book. O’Meara’s a implausible storyteller however typically nice moments are revealed a bit too early earlier than they will actually pack a punch. But O’Meara’s voice continues to be sturdy. She’s not afraid to inform you what she thinks, to query the analysis and to essentially dig for the reality. It is a highly effective learn.