DHS Squirrel

Patterson film-related hoaxes:
Debunking the Landis/Chambers Rumor

The Landis/Chambers rumor suggests that the Patterson footage was hoaxed, and that the costume used for the hoax was the creation of a famous Hollywood makeup artist, John Chambers. Chambers was the costume designer who created the ape costumes for the 1960's science fiction film "Planet of the Apes".

The rumor was around for many years among Hollywood special effects people. Many people believed it because they had heard it so many times. It was producer John Landis' statements about the rumor that first made it a media item.

A 1996 article by Mark Chorvinsky appeared in Strange Magazine setting forth the details of the rumor. Chorvinsky offered his own investigation seeking to link Chambers with the Patterson footage. The only "evidence" to support the rumor that emerged was the collection of confirmations by assorted Hollywood special effects people that they had heard the same rumor ...

Chambers himself never took credit for the Patterson footage. He never confessed it, never bragged about it. Rather, he has always denied being connected with it.

Chambers was the best ape-man-costume talent around at the time. That was most likely the root of the speculation about his involvement. When that speculation was repeated over and over again, it gave rise to a false rumor, and reinforced it. This phenomenon of progression from rumor to apparent fact is more commonly known today as "urban legend."

After Chorvinsky's article was printed, John Chambers (who is in a rest home in Los Angeles) was interviewed about this matter by more than one person. He explained, again, that he was not involved with the Patterson footage in any way, nor can he point to anyone else in that regard.

Chambers is intelligent and straightforward. He is still lucid and talkative, and can still set the record straight on this matter. He has no reason whatsoever to continue to conceal involvement in something like the Patterson footage. It would only go to his credit to have created such a fantastic costume.

Below you'll find quotes from the first interview with Chambers after the Chorvinsky article was printed.

From CNI?News

"Planet of the Apes" Special Effects Designer Says He Didn't Do It

The November 1, 1997 edition of CNI News carried a story alleging that Oscar-winning Hollywood special effects wizard, John "Planet of the Apes" Chambers, was responsible for creating a costume featured in the famous Bigfoot film footage shot by Roger Patterson in 1967. The claim for Chambers' authorship of the alleged costume was attributed to respected film director John Landis and was reportedly supported by numerous artists within the special effects industry.

However, new information from Brian Penikas, Creative Director for a company called Makeup & Monsters, puts to rest the theory that Chambers had any hand in the Patterson film. Penikas writes:

"Recently my crew and I were involved in a surprize 75th birthday tribute to Mr. Chambers, for which 9 of us recreated a parody skit re-enacting characters from the Ape movies. Mr. Chambers and the rest of the guests, many of whom were survivors of the Apes saga, were wonderfully surprised.

"I had only met Mr. Chambers briefly prior to the surprise party, and the opportunity to discuss the "suit" rumor was not high on my agenda... This past Saturday [October 25, 1997], however, the cast of the Apes birthday skit went back (sans costumes and makeup) to visit with Mr. Chambers and his wife... [This] was our chance to truly and finally confront Mr. Chambers about these rumors and stories about him being involved in the Patterson film project.

"Mr. Chambers told his story, on video tape, to us to set the record straight. I now have pictures of the suit that Chambers did make and you can rest assured that it is NOT the famous Patterson Bigfoot. In fact, it's not a suit AT ALL. It is an 8 foot tall plaster dummy of actor Richard "Jaws" Keil that was built (in 4 days) as a prop for a travelling carnival to be billed as "Bigfoot's Body" or some such sideshow attraction, and was apparently displayed in a coffin. That's all. Just a solid, 800-pound prop.

"Mr. Chambers did say (in regards to the Patterson footage) that he and his crew wished they had done it, because they would have done it differently. I believe his exact words were, jokingly, 'We could've done better.'

"So there you have it... We can all smile with relief that the Patterson footage is still the most convincing proof of our great folk legend's existence, and that it still has not been debunked.

"I want that film to be real just as much as the next guy," Penikas said in conclusion.

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