Thursday 8 March 2018

International Women’s Day: Milicent Patrick “The Beauty Who Created the Beast”

Today is International Women’s Day and we celebrate women that have inspired us, so I thought I would celebrate one of my favourite female artist Milicent Patrick. Regrettably not many of us recognise the name but we certainly know her work and that's it really, very little information about her and her life exists! We think her real name was Mildred Elizabeth Fulvia di Rossi and that she was the daughter of Italian baroness Baronesa di Polombara and architect Camille Charles Rossi and that she worked both in front and behind the camera but received very little onscreen credit for her work and that's about it, nobody really knows what became of her after the 1980s and even the Screen Actors Guild simply lists her as ‘missing’. But if we accept what we (sort of) know it makes her an amazing woman worthy of celebration as she would have not only been the first female animator hired by Disney but also the designer of the Xenomorph in It Came from Outer Space and the Metaluna mutant from This Island Earth. We know she worked as a mask maker on Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Mole People and we know that she created one the most famous, iconic creature designs for Universal, the Gill Man from The Creature from the Black Lagoon because during Universal’s marketing campaign for Creature from the Black Lagoon they billed her, “The Beauty Who Created the Beast” along with photos of her sketching the Gill Man and posing with the mask. Unfortunately this was to be her undoing however when make-up artist Bud Westmore took umbrage with her not crediting the entire team involved in its creation (she had in fact credited the staff on numerous occasions ironically a trait Westmore himself did not share) and he vowed never to never hire her as an artist again thus killing off a promising artistic career. This sad factor aside she was clearly a tremendously accomplished artist and responsible for one of the most iconic screen monsters ever created and I salute you Milicent Patrick, wherever you are!

© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world. I do not own nor do I claim ownership of the photographs featured in this article.

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