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
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
Below you'll find quotes from the first interview with
Chambers after the Chorvinsky article was printed.
HOLLYWOOD'S CLAIM ON PATTERSON BIGFOOT FILM DENIED
"Planet of the Apes" Special Effects Designer Says He Didn't
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
"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,
"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
"I want that film to be real just as much as the next guy,"
Penikas said in conclusion.