Ben Chapman was born in Oakland, California, while his Tahitian parents were on a trip to the United States. He was raised in Tahiti, relocated to the U.S. in 1940 and went to school in the Bay Area of San Francisco. Working as a Tahitian dancer in nightclubs led to his first movie job, a bit in MGM’s “Pagan Love Song” (1950); other small film roles followed before Korean War duty temporarily sidetracked his modest screen career. Talent scouts from Universal-International “discovered” Chapman upon his return, and for a year he became a U-I stock player–and, at six-foot-five, an ideal choice for the finny title role in “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” (Chapman is the Creature in scenes where the camera is out of water; Ricou Browning is the Creature in scenes where the camera is underwater.) In his later years, Chapman frequently commuted to autograph shows in the mainland United States.
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