Cowboy behind legendary Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film marks 50th anniversary
The footage is grainy. It runs 59.5 seconds. And yet, to aficionados, it is the most significant short film ever made — because it depicts Bigfoot.
If you've seen it, you can probably picture what's known as the Patterson-Gimlin film: a dark, lumbering, hairy creature walks in the wilderness, and at one point, turns and seems to look right at the camera.
Bob Gimlin was with Roger Patterson near Bluff Creek, Calif., when they shot the footage fifty years ago this week.
As It Happens host Carol Off spoke with Gimlin about his iconic film and whether he believes Bigfoot is still out there. Here is part of their conversation.
Bob, it's been 50 years since you and Roger Patterson filmed that big, hairy creature. Quite something, eh?
Yes. It was, really, quite. It changed my life.
Do you believe to this day that you saw Bigfoot?
You and Roger Patterson weren't just out for a walk that day. You were looking for Bigfoot back in October 1967. Can you describe the moment that you first saw this creature?
Oh yes. I'll never ever forget that. It was a sunshiney day, a beautiful Oct. 20 sunshiney day. It was just nice and warm. The moment I saw her I just said, "Oh my god, they really do exist." To see is to believe with me.
And why do you think it was female?
Well, the mammary glands.
Oh, she had breasts?
Oh yeah. But this was happening so fast that I never even thought about that. That was all put together after people started watching the footage.
Were you scared?
I didn't have time to be scared. It was something surprising. I've been an outdoorsman all my life. Big bull elk have jumped up in front of me, and big buck deer, and bear, and cougar. There was no time. This was all happening dramatically fast.
Of course, I've seen the footage. Many, many people have and there are those who will tell you that it looks like somebody in a gorilla suit. What do you say to those people?
If they've ever heard of Bill Munns, who was a special effects man in Hollywood for 30 some years, and he went into that film footage to prove that it was false. After he studied it for so long he said, "I was the best there was in special effects," and he said, "I couldn't have come up with anything close to a man in a suit that looked like that."
Now what do you think Bigfoot is?
But they're so elusive. Your film is considered to be one of the few times that anyone can say they think they saw Bigfoot. Why do you think that creature appeared to you that day?
One guy is deceased now but he came up with the idea that she was there to be seen and filmed and she wouldn't have been there if it wouldn't have been for me.
This story just took a turn — you think she knew you and she wanted to appear to you?
Well, that's what I've been told. I had no idea. But anyway, if that's what it is, I'm hoping that I'm sending a message.
So you think that she appeared to you in order to speak to you, to give you some kind of a message to take to the world?
This is what it is, the film footage. No one has ever come close to saying, well they say it could be a man in a suit, but they've never ever proved anything. It's been to Russian scientists. It's been all over the world to different scientists.
You know there are a lot of people who do believe you. They call themselves "Bigfooters" and one of the Bigfooters told Outside Magazine that "meeting Bob Gimlin, to a Bigfooter it's like meeting the president of the United States if you're an American or meeting the Pope if you're Catholic."
Well, that's a little strong. I don't look at it that way. I'm just Bob Gimlin. The guy that's trying to send the message out there that don't be shooting at the them, don't be trying to kill them and don't be running and screaming away from them.
This interview transcript has been edited for length and clarity. For more on this story, listen to our full interview with Bob Gimlin. You can also listen to an archival As It Happens interview with a Sasquatch hunter below.
As It Happens has done a number of stories on Bigfoot over the years. And despite Bob Gimlin's wishes that we all treat the forest creatures with respect, we've even spoken to someone who tried to shoot Sasquatch, way back in May 1979.
From our archives, here's hosts Alan Maitland and Barbara Frum, with the 16-year-old shooter, Tim Meisner.