Bigfoot Encounters

The Patterson Film: A Discussion by Daniel Perez
Fortean Times, January 2005

The Fortean Times used this article in a much edited form in their January 2005 issue. The following is what was actually submitted. ...Daniel Perez

"The Patterson-Gimlin Film: A Discussion" By Daniel Perez

It happened on a lazy Friday afternoon on October 20th, 1967. At roughly 1:30 p.m. the late Roger Patterson (1933-1972) filmed an upright walking being, commonly called Bigfoot or Sasquatch with a rented Cine-Kodak K-100 movie camera. The now famous movie was shot in the northwest corner of California or more specifically in an area called Bluff Creek, (N41*26.38’ W123*42.011*) which attracted notoriety in the past for numerous Bigfoot sightings and footprint discoveries.

The Patterson-Gimlin incident, the most celebrated Bigfoot sighting in history is, in fact, the most convincing component indicating that Sasquatches are a biological reality. Real in a sense like you and me, of flesh and bones. To put things in cinematic perspective, the Patterson film is to the Bigfoot field what the Zapruder film is to the Kennedy assassination. Unlike the Kennedy predicament, however, the Patterson-Gimlin film (hereafter P-G film) has survived many assassination attempts.

Over thirty-seven years have come and gone and 952 frames from a 16-millimeter strip of celluloid lasting approximately one minute in duration, continues to fascinate, frustrate and intrigue both skeptics and believers. The film is in a word: enigmatic.

I remember in my boyhood seeing the best portion of the P-G film presented in a television advertisement and I had no idea where Bluff Creek was in relationship to where I lived, Norwalk, a suburb of the Los Angeles area. As far I was concerned, the film may have been shot on Mars, as I had no idea where Bluff Creek was; hence, I had very little information to form an educated opinion on what I was seeing. As the years went by I developed a keen interest in the film, wanting to know all the details about it -- where was the film shot; how many frames where in the movie; what type of film was used, etc. Along the way, I became an authority on the P-G film.

Other movie films allegedly depicting Bigfoot, shot by the late Ivan Marx (1921-1999) from California and the late Paul Freeman (1943-2003) from Washington state have submerged as quickly as they have surfaced. No one is debating the merits of those films today. No one knows or cares to know the details. The litmus test was cancelled. Although both Marx and Freeman were colorful personalities in Bigfooting their films, sadly enough, scream hoax right from the get go. One look and your eye and mind fire the neurons that spell out hoax.

But there is one film that has stood the test of time: the Patterson-Gimlin footage. Skeptics will tell you there is no such thing as Bigfoot; therefore, the thinking goes, the film is obviously faked. Believers will tell you Bigfoot is real and the famous film proves it.

What is certain and factual is the P-G film is endlessly debated back and forth; a frequent topic - indeed - on the Internet, on television documentaries, magazine articles, newsletters and just recently in a book.

One such book was published earlier this year and penned by writer Greg Long from Mill Creek, Washington. It is The Making Of Bigfoot: The Inside Story. Says the inside dust jacket: "After nearly forty years of secrecy, the real truth is finally revealed behind the famous Roger Patterson 'Bigfoot' film - a hoax that has managed to fool scores of scientists and millions of people around the world." Its foreword is authored by Kal K. Korff, now living in Prague, Czech Republic, who has developed a reputation in both the UFO and Bigfoot communities as being a loud mouth who is sloppy with research and careless with facts.

One might be inclined to question the contents of Mr. Long's book, or even his dust jacket... "has managed to fool scores of scientists..." I was expecting to see a rousing discussion as to how "scores of scientists," were fooled, notably Dr. Don W. Grieve; Dr. Grover S. Krantz; Dr. Dmitri D. Donskoy; Dr. Henner Fahrenbach; Dr. Jeff Meldrum and Igor Bourtsev, yet only Dr. Krantz is found in the index on one page of a 476 page book. One is tempted to speculate these scientists who support the film were ignored for obvious reasons. One is also tempted to speculate Greg Long's only motivation for writing the book was to make a lot of money, yet figures from indicate sales have been lackluster.

Canadian Bigfooter, Chris Murphy, author of Meet The Sasquatch, (2004) summed up things succinctly in an e-mail to Greg Long on May 9th: "You have not proven that the film is a hoax Greg. All you have done is prove that some people say or imply that the film is a hoax. There is a big difference." Part of Mr. Long's response was "Don't pick and choose what you'd like to use as your PSEUDO-PROOF," making a previous reference to the Intermembral Index (IM Index) or the relationship of the arm to leg length of the subject in the P-G film. Yet it would certainly appear that Greg Long did just that, choosing not to tackle positive opinions expressed about the film subject in his own book.

The television show World's Greatest Hoaxes (Secrets Finally Revealed) produced by Robert C. Kiviat, broadcast on December 28, 1998 has Kal Korff stating the following, "there's no doubt in my mind that the Patterson film is a hoax. It is a human being in a fur suit." Later in this abominable documentary a Clyde O. Reinke, rancher and businessman and for a time the "personal and administrative manager" for American National Enterprises, Inc. in Salt Lake City, Utah identifies insurance agent Jerry Romney as the man in the fur suit in the P-G film and a portion of the show actually show Jerry Romney walking. Narrator Lance Henriksen goes on to state the similarity between the walk of Mr. Romney and the 1967 film subject.

Yet in Greg Long's book, a 2004 release, World's Greatest Hoaxes is discussed in brief but somehow Jerry Romney, the so called man-in-the-fur-suit is never mentioned once. Instead, the new and improved man-in-the-fur-suit is introduced: Bob Heironimus from Yakima, Washington takes his place with not so much as an explanation as to what the heck happened to Romney. So if Mr. Long and Robert Kiviat want to really enlighten their audiences via television and book their working title may be Secrets Revealed: How We Substituted Romney For Heironimus And Duped The American Public!

And just quite recently I have learned, Kal K. Korff went on record with this: "Up at a remote location called Cow Camp [Washington state], away from the prying eyes of Bigfoot enthusiasts, we successfully recreated the famous Patterson-Gilm hoax film." Yet Korff's opinion was not echoed by National Geographic's Noel Dockstader, who was also present, noted the suit used in the recreation, provided by Philip Morris from Morris Costumes was in no way similar to what was depicted in the P-G film. Go figure.

The late Janos Prohaska, who was killed in a tragic plane crash, had made a career in the film industry portraying gorillas, studied the P-G film at length and made some very positive statements in the mid-1970 documentary, The Mysterious Monsters. At the time Prohaska was the top man in that field and was very familiar with the look and feel of an ape costume. Prohaska noted that a padded gorilla suit would conceal muscular movements but muscle movement was clearly seen in the P-G suit. Prohaska's general opinion of the film was that it was not a man in a costume, and if it was, he stated, "it was the best I have ever seen." Yet somehow Janos Prohaska, someone who made a living playing a man in a gorilla suit, is never mentioned in The Making of Bigfoot. Maybe Greg Long didn't want you to know about Prohaska, fearing the real truth might affect his story line.

But there is more to be said about the "researcher" Greg Long. In his book, on page 381, there is a black and white picture of frame 323 from the P-G film. In his caption for the print Long states: "the left foot is rectangular in shape and resembles a slipper." Mr. Long has often taunted his detractors with that "prove me wrong" line and here he fall flat on his face. Frame 323 shows the bottom of the right foot, not the left!

Long also states on page 378 of his book, "I don't see any muscle masses moving on Patterson's Bigfoot," yet on page 381 you are asked to "notice the glove on the right hand." Contrary to what Long states I do see muscle masses moving in the movie film, both in the buttocks area and in the upper leg and any notation of gloves is simply not supported by what is demonstrably visible in the movie.

Finally, Greg Long pegs Philip Morris as the person who supplied Roger Patterson a gorilla suit used for his famous film. Unfortunately, Mr. Morris has no paper trail to positively tie himself to Roger Patterson. No correspondence, no cancelled checks. No nothing. Recently Bigfooter Scott Herriott phoned Philip Morris last March 2004 and Morris went on record stating he sent the suit to Roger Patterson for approval prior to payment and that he never got paid.

Yet there is a different tune to be read in Long's book, on page 446: "Wow," Greg Long states, "So, Patterson sent you a check?" And Morris replies, "No, a postal money order. He also sent money for shipping. So I took one of my gorilla suits and we shipped it to him [Roger Patterson]." As much as we would like to believe the likes of Bob Heironimus, Philip Morris and "professional writer," Greg Long it gets harder and harder the more we probe the various claims of The Making Of Bigfoot.

Perhaps Jerome Clark, the well know Fortean, made a fitting comment for our summary: "I have discovered," he writes, "as one who is no less guilty of it than anybody else, that one can 'prove' just about anything one wants about UFOs simply by focusing on certain data and ignoring others."

Greg Long, in his book, The Making Of Bigfoot, proved to his readers that the P-G film was a fabrication by focusing in on certain data and ignoring the rest. That said, we should also remind ourselves of the brutal reality of the situation: it has been over 37 years since the P-G film was shot. Today that strip of film is enigmatic. It has never been convincingly replicated by a man in a costume from the scientific community to Hollywood. To any thinking person, that should speak volumes.
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Daniel Perez is the author of "Bigfoot At Bluff Creek" Perez Publishing: Norwalk, 1992 and “Big Footnotes: A Comprehensive Bibliography Concerning Bigfoot, The Abominable Snowman and related beings" 1988; is the editor of the Bigfoot Times Newsletter...

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