Exposing Roger Patterson's 1967 Bigfoot Film Hoax
By Kal K. Korff and Michaela Kocis for the Skeptical Inquirer July/August 2004
The most famous recording
of an alleged Bigfoot is a short film shot in 1967. Filmed in Bluff Creek,
California, it shows a large, manlike creature striding through a clearing.
In many ways the veracity of the film is crucial; unlike many alleged
Bigfoot photographs, the subject in the film cannot be a misidentification.
After nearly forty
years of secrecy, the truth behind the world-famous Roger Patterson Bigfoot
film has been revealed.
The Legend of the
According to Patterson, the two men were quietly riding, when he saw the creature and his horse suddenly "reared and fell over." After spotting the creature and having his horse fall on him, Patterson managed to regain his composure and pull out his 16 mm camera. He started filming while running toward the Bigfoot, steadied himself, and capped off sixty seconds as it walked away, glancing back at them over its right shoulder.
The two men then purportedly made plaster casts of the footprints left by the creature and raced to the post office to mail the film for immediate processing. The rest of the story is now history.
The Hoax Begins
When the program aired on December 28, 1998, it caused a sensation. One individual who saw the special was Bob Heironimus, a recently retired laborer and the person who had worn the Bigfoot costume in the Patterson film.
After deciding to come forth, Bob Heironimus says, "I told him (Bob Gimlin), 'I don't give a damn, I'm telling the truth. I'm tired after thirty-seven years,' and he tells me, 'Well, don't mention my name.'"
According to Heironimus, it was Bob Gimlin who first asked him, at Patterson's request, to wear the Bigfoot costume and help fake the film. Patterson and Gimlin "explained to me they were going sell the film, naturally, and make a fortune. They would give me a thousand dollars, and then as they made money they would give me some." Despite keeping his end of the bargain, he was never paid.
"It was in July or August of 1967. Gimlin told me that Roger was going to make a film, and they needed someone to wear a suit." Heironimus was twenty-six at the time, and says he "thought nothing of it. From his perspective, it was just a way to make some quick and easy money.
Heironimus claims that the Bigfoot costume was made of synthetic fur and bits of leather from a horse's hide. Patterson had added "breasts" to the chest of the Bigfoot creature. Heironimus also remembers that it contained football shoulder pads inside it to "bulk it up,' and that the head piece was, in fact, a dressed-up football helmet that had a mask attached to the front of it with two slits to look through. "Because the eyeholes were a little more than an inch away from my face, it was hard to see in that mask."
After being fitted
with the suit, Heironimus claims he was told to stand in one place and
not move until Patterson gave him the signal to start walking. The first
few frames of the Patterson film do indeed show the Bigfoot starting its
walk from a standstill.
Opal continued, "I went in the house and my sister-in-law Willa Smith lived right up the street and she came down - she was always down at my house two or three times a day -and so when she got down, I said, "I want to show you something." I opened up the trunk and let her look." Opal remembers that Patterson and Gimlin came late that day and returned Chico, one of the horses they'd ridden. Afterwards, the Bigfoot suit was removed from the car and she never saw it again. Its present whereabouts remain unknown.
Bob Heironimus's nephew
John Miller was 8 at the time and recalls playing with the Bigfoot suit
and putting on the headpiece. "I just remember they has the trunk
open and I remember looking in there and "What's that! - - And pickin'
up and foolin' with it. And I can remember finding the head and being
a young kid I just put it right on. It was hot. And it stunk. I can remember
going up to their front porch and lookin' in the front window to see if
somebody could see me. I was going to try and scare somebody." When
asked what he thought of the claim that no human being can possibly walk
the way the Patterson creature does, Miller replied, "I'll tell you
what, if you ever watch that [Patterson] footage and watch him [Bob Heironimus]
walk, and then you have him walk down the road, you'll see--they walk
exactly the same. I always got a kick out of that."
Still other witnesses, such as Merle Warchime, recall seeing Bigfoot suit, which floated around the Yakima area after we were out in the Ahtanum [Valley] by that old church. We was sittin' there. We were about to go and somebody had the thing. It was in a box there, you lust in kind of a box in the back. I didn't pay that much attention to it. When asked if he was convinced that played the role of Bigfoot in the Patterson hoax adamant, "Oh, yes. Yeah. That's the way you have to do is watch him walk across the you know."
These statements dispute the claims made by Bigfoot defenders that Heironimus is some sort of Johnny-come-lately trying to make a fast buck and garner media attention. The truth is, Bob Heironimus has never gone public with the details of his story until now and has never been paid any money for his involvement in the hoax, unlike Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin.
The Big Footprints
After talking briefly about his alleged encounter, Patterson unwrapped an alleged Bigfoot cast. Anderson immediately doubted the authenticity of the item. "I said to him, 'It looks like it's too narrow on the front part because it couldn't stand erect. Based on the description you've given me of this tall man or tall animal, you have to have it broader at the ball of the foot. 'Oh, no,' he said, 'he stands right up.' I said, 'Well, it doesn't appear to be correct. It looks to me like it should be wider on the front where the ball of the foot is. For the length of the foot, it won't work.' He [Patterson] said, 'Well, I can solve that problem. I'll take some more casts.'
Three days later, Patterson returned to ask Anderson for input on his latest efforts, showing him new casts and asking, "What do you think of that?" Anderson replied, "That looks better. That looks proportionate.' Anderson says, "See, I did not know the guy, did not know his intention. You have to realize that people came in and out of the store all the time. You don't know them. You just wait on them and service their needs. I thought he was pulling a joke on somebody."
Patterson then told Anderson, "I have to ask you never to say anything about this because I've done this for my wife because I'm dying of cancer. I want to leave something for my wife." "What the heck," Anderson says now, "If people will buy it, why not? People will buy anything. He was giving me this sob story about his health, and he wanted to leave something for his wife, and you know, I wasn't doing it [shooting a fake film]. I was just listening to his story. I really didn't pay that much attention to it. It wasn't important."
Additional eyewitness testimony that Patterson faked Bigfoot prints comes independently from Roger Patterson's brother-in-law Bruce Mondor: "Roger made the footprints, and he explained the whole damn thing to me. He showed me the big foot; it didn't have an arch in it. It had toes like it should have. . . And I asked him... 'What do you do, you pick this up and slam it down?' It had to weigh twenty-five or thirty pounds. He said, 'Yeah, that's what I do.' I said, 'Then what do you do there [in the impression on the ground] ?' He said, 'I pour plaster of Paris in there.'
The Bigfoot Costume
In 1967, about two months before the film was made, Morris received a telephone call from Patterson: "I was the only one who was making a gorilla suit like that at that time. I knew what my gorilla suit looked like. It was brown. In the fifties and sixties, I made my gorilla suits only in brown. . .Patterson asked me if I had a realistic-looking gorilla suit. I immediately asked him if he was a carny [carnival worker]. He said, 'No, I'm a rodeo cowboy. We're just going to have some fun.'"
Morris recalls, "So I took one of my gorilla suits and shipped it to him. Parcel post, if I remember. It was a standard suit we sold to all our customers. Then, not long after he would have received the suit, I got a call from him. He said he had received the suit, and that it seemed okay, but, he said, 'I can see the zipper in the back.' I told him, 'Just brush the fur down over the zipper.' The fur on the suit was a material called Dynel. It was a nylon fiber, a popular material back then. It was used on lots of things, like plush toys, bathroom rugs and toilet seats. I bought it from my supplier in only two colors, black and brown. Then Roger wanted to know how to make the arms longer. I said, 'Find a shovel handle or a stick and slip it in the sleeves. Then attach the gloves to the stick.' That's how to extend the arms in a costume. You screw the gloves onto the stick. Then he said he wanted to make the shoulders more massive. I told him to go down to a local high school and get some old football pads the coaches would probably be happy to get rid of some old, cracked ones--and put them in the shoulders."
Bob Heironimus has never met nor talked to Philip Morris, yet Heironimus distinctly recalled the presence of shoulder pads in the Bigfoot suit that Patterson had modified, a fact that Philip Morris could not have known. This revelation is yet more evidence that the Patterson film is a hoax, and that Heironimus not only wore the suit but that Morris supplied it to Patterson.
Morris's wife and business partner, Amy, helped make the famed suit. "Roger called us a second time and he asked us to ship him some extra gorilla fur. So we sent him some excess Dynel that was lying around," she said.
Philip Morris picks up the story: "He wanted to know how to fix the eyes. He said, 'You can see the white of the skin, when he [his Bigfoot actor] looks through the eye holes.' I said, 'Well, take some black makeup and put it around the person's eyes, and also have-him close his eyes and put the makeup on his eyelids. That should do it.' A couple of months later, October '67, I was watching TV, and this film is being shown; and I see my gorilla suit. "That's my suit!" I yelled. His wife came in and upon seeing the broadcast, agreed.
Today, Morris Costumes is the single largest manufacturer and supplier of costumes to Hollywood and to stores across the United States. Morris adds, "I'd say, looking at the [Patterson] Bigfoot film in one of the those TV productions, the guy who wore the suit must have had his clothes on because the suit was really tight on him." This was another important revelation that further proves the Patterson Bigfoot film is a hoax. Prior to Morris's comment for the record, Bob Heironimus, without Morris's knowledge, independently testified that he had, in fact, worn his clothes under the Bigfoot suit, and that it did indeed fit him rather tightly
Morris stated that a six-foot-tall person could fit inside the suit. Bob Heironimus is slightly taller than six feet, and he was very muscular as a youth, especially in the shoulders, arms, thighs, and legs. Photographs taken of Heironimus in 1967 confirm this. Using a technique called photogrammetry, a study of the Bigfoot film done by the BBC calculated the height of the Bigfoot at just slightly over six feet.
When asked about the length of the latex feet that he supplied to Patterson along with the rest of the gorilla suit, Morris replied, "Oh, I'd say fourteen inches." Not surprisingly, the Bigfoot tracks Patterson later submitted as his evidence measured fourteen inches. Morris adds: "The heel [of the creature] is too square-looking. It's a dead giveaway. Those are definitely my feet that I sold Patterson,"
gait, Morris states: "The Bigfoot researchers say that no human can
walk that way in the film. Oh, yes they can! When you're wearing long
clown's feet, you can't place the ball of your foot down first. You have
to put your foot down flat. Otherwise, you'll stumble. Another thing,
when you put on the gorilla head, you can only turn your head maybe a
quarter of the way. And to look behind you, you've got to turn your head
and your shoulders and your hips. Plus, the shoulder pads in the suit
are in the way of the jaw. That's why the Bigfoot turns and looks the
way he does in the film. He has to twist his entire upper body."
"The Bigfoot thing just wasn't a big deal in my life," Morris now reflects. "In the 1980's the film didn't have the momentum it had at first. I decided to start talking about it. In the last few years all these documentaries have come out. Most people by now know the film is a hoax, or they should know. We're at a point in the public's relationship with the Bigfoot story; it's time to tell my story. I've been thinking about the story for forty years."
The Eye Has It
When enlarged and studied carefully in detail, the frames reveal a sudden burst of light on the right eye, which cannot be explained by normal sunlight reflecting off of an organic eye. Curiously, its left eye remains in shadow, even though there is nothing around the face to block the light. According to Heironimus, a cloth with two holes in it for him to see through was draped over the front of the football helmet at least one inch away from his own eyes. This explains why the left eye of the "creature" is in shadow, because it is obscured by the cloth. However, this does not explain the light that appears in the right eye.
What does explain this sudden flash is a secret about Bob Heironimus that only he and his closest friends are aware of: Heironimus's right eye is missing, and he wears a prosthetic, or glass, eye! It was this glass eye of his that reflected the bright sunlight. Detailed enlargements and enhancements of this area suggest that these reflections are consistent with what one would expect of a glass eye and are not the result of anything organic in nature.
Further evidence in
the Patterson film also vindicates Heironimus story. The alleged "fur
line" of the creature that goes down its back is in the exact spot
where both Heironimus and Morris claim the zipper is located. Remember,
Morris distinctly told Patterson how to hide this zipper from view, advising
him to comb down the fur on the suit with a brush. Sure enough, this Bigfoot,
a wild creature presumably living in wilderness, is remarkably clean and
Dr. Jeff Meldrum, Ph.D., an anthropologist at the University of Idaho, is a firm believer in the authenticity of the Patterson film. Meldrum is convinced that the tracks found at the site match the soles of the feet visible in the Patterson film. With all due respect to Meldrum's enthusiasm, evidence has yet to be presented that the prints that were purportedly left at the site match the bottoms of the feet of the creature. Morris's fourteen-inch "gorilla feet" are not physically capable of making the deep tracks that were later supposedly documented.
© SKEPTICAL INQUIRER
July/August 2004 pg 35
Michaela Koch is a
radio broadcaster for Expressradio and an investigative journalist for
Mlada DNES, the Czech Republic's largest newspaper. . Her e-mail address
Greg Long from Washington
State is a technical editor and writer for an environmental engineering
company, and the author of Examining the Earthlight Theory: The Yakima
UFO Microcosm, a study of UFO sightings on the Yakima Indian Reservation
in south-central Washington State
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