A Michigan native and professional costume maker Phillip Morris says the famous Patterson-Gimlin footage of ‘Big Foot’ filmed back in 1967 is just a guy in one of his gorilla suits. Morris’ costume wholesale company is an industry giant and provides all manner of costumes to Hollywood including a white gorilla suit in the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever so he knows his costumes.
In 1967, a man called, identified himself as Roger Patterson and said he was a rodeo cowboy who wanted to buy a gorilla suit for a gag, Morris recalled.
Morris Costumes was one of the few companies making relatively inexpensive gorilla suits. The suits were in demand because of the popular carnival trick in which a woman morphed into a crazed gorilla and sent patrons screaming from fair tents. Patterson paid $435 plus shipping and handling for the suit.
“I didn’t think it was a real big deal,” said Morris. “It was just another sale.”
Patterson later called asking how to make it more realistic, Morris said. Use a stick to extend the arms, brush the fur to cover the zipper and wear football pads to make the shoulders bigger, Morris told him.
He never heard from Patterson again.
Sometime in October 1967, Morris was in his living room when he saw the now-famous Bigfoot footage on TV.
Even after what would become known as the Patterson-Gimlin film became a disputed piece of Bigfoot evidence, Morris said he never heard from Patterson. Morris told friends and relatives that the creature shot with a 16 mm camera was actually someone wearing his gorilla suit.
He says he refrained from going public because he didn’t want to undermine the still-popular girl-to-gorilla trick, or expose a fellow illusionist.
“In my mind it was a magic trick,” he said.
Like any other True Believers, the Big Foot crowd is insisting that there’s no way the footage could just be a human in a gorilla suit:
“For him to suggest that is just wishful thinking on his part,” said Jeff Meldrum, an associate professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University, who’s studied the Patterson film. “Everyone in the film industry wishes they can do something as compelling as the Patterson film, but no one has.”
Bigfoot researchers save most of their venom for Long, who they say assassinates Patterson’s character in the book. Still, on the Internet and in interviews, they question Morris’ motives and dissect his statements about why the creature moves the way it does in the film.
Among other things, they say the bend of the human elbow debunks Morris’ theory that a stick extended the arms because the creature’s elbow joint is proportional to its body, its fur looks real and its torso is longer and wider than an average person’s.
“Morris’ costumes are fine for circuses, fine for movies, but the hair doesn’t lie down in the same way as the hair shown on the Patterson Bigfoot, on the live creature,” said researcher Loren Coleman, author of “Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes In America.”
Morris ignores the skeptics.
“You’re interfering with their belief system,” he said, with his wide grin. “It’s like telling a child there’s no Santa Claus.”
Gotta give credit to Morris for having pegged the problem so accurately. Morris’ story is part of Greg Long’s book The Making of Big Goot: The Inside Story.