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Courtesy of the LA Times, sent me by J. Tucker

Ben Chapman, 79; Gill Man in cult film 'Creature from the Black Lagoon'
By Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

As an actor, Ben Chapman never landed a star-making role. Far from it. He had small parts in only a few films, including an uncredited bit part in "Ma and Pa Kettle at Waikiki."

But Chapman nevertheless achieved a degree of movie immortality -- and he did it without uttering a word of dialogue or even showing his face.

The 6-foot-5 former Tahitian entertainer and ex-Marine played the title character in "Creature from the Black Lagoon," the classic 1954 3-D monster movie that quickly developed a cult following that has endured over the decades.

Chapman, a retired Honolulu real estate salesman, died Thursday of congestive heart failure at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, said his longtime companion, Merrilee Kazarian. He was 79.

For Chapman, playing the so-called Gill Man in "Creature from the Black Lagoon" was the role of a lifetime.

"In the big picture, he achieved a small amount of success as an actor, but for baby-boomer 'monster kids,' he was the bomb," Tom Weaver, author of the 1992 "making of" book "Creature from the Black Lagoon," told The Times on Friday.