The Patterson Bigfoot

Patterson said he became interested in Bigfoot after reading an article about the creature by Ivan Sanderson in True magazine in December 1959. Patterson’s book, Do Abominable Snowmen of America Really Exist?, was self-published in 1966. The book has been characterized as “little more than a collection of newspaper clippings laced together with Patterson’s circus-poster style prose.” It did, however, also include 20 pages of previously unpublished interviews and letters, 17 drawings by Patterson of the encounters described in the text, 5 hand-drawn maps (rare in subsequent Bigfoot books), and almost 20 photos and illustrations from other sources. It was reprinted in 2005 under the title The Bigfoot Film Controversy, with additional material by Chris Murphy.

Some decades after the Patterson-Gimlin film’s publicity, Greg Long interviewed people who described Patterson as a liar, a conman, and sometimes worse. Pat Mason, Glen Koelling, Bob Swanson and Vilma Radford claimed Patterson never repaid loans they made to him for a bigfoot movie Roger was planning. Later, records show that Bob Gimlin sued DeAtley and Patterson’s widow Patricia, in 1975, claiming he was not receiving his share of the film’s proceeds. Radford alone had corroborative evidence: a $700 promissory note “for expenses in connection with filming of ‘Bigfoot: Americas Abominable Snowman. [sic]‘ “Patterson agreed to repay her $850, plus 5 percent of any profits from the movie. The movie was supposed to be a pseudo-documentary about cowboys being led by an old miner and a wise Indian tracker on a hunt for Bigfoot. The storyline called for Patterson, his Indian guide (Gimlin in a wig) and the cowboys to recall in flashbacks the stories of Fred Beck and others as they tracked the beast on horseback. Since the film was to be a pseudo-documentary Patterson and Gimlin would have needed actors. Lacking a real cooperative bigfoot, Patterson and Gimlin would have needed a costume to present a reasonable representation of the creature supposedly encountered.

According to Jerry Merritt, both he and Roger tried to attract investors to help further fund his bigfoot movie. They were not successful at this. Later, after Patterson died, Ron Olson (of ANE Studios) made a version of this and renamed it Sasquatch, the Legend of Bigfoot, while neglecting to give Patterson a co-writer credit. Roger drove to Hollywood often. He and Merritt visited various friends in the entertainment field including Gene Vincent and Ross Hagen (who starred on the late 1960′s hit television show Daktari), and who worked with Patterson on his Bigfoot song they recorded in Hollywood.

Patterson and his friend Gimlin set out for the Six Rivers National Forest in northern California. Patterson chose the area because of intermittent reports of the creatures in the past and of their enormous footprints near there since 1958. The most recent of these reports was the nearby Blue Creek Mountain track find, which was investigated by journalist John Green, Rene Dahinden, and archaeologist Don Abbott on and after August 28, 1967. This find was reported to Patterson soon thereafter by local resident Al Hodgson.

Though Gimlin says he doubted the existence of Sasquatch-like creatures, he agreed to Patterson’s suggestion that they should not attempt to shoot any such creatures they might see. According to Grover Krantz years later, Patterson and Gimlin agreed they should have tried to shoot the creature, both for financial gain and to silence naysayers.

Patterson’s expensive 16 mm camera had been rented on May 13, but he had kept it longer than the contract had stipulated, and an arrest warrant had been issued for him on October 17. This charge was ultimately dismissed after Patterson returned the camera in working order.

The Finding Bigfoot team has investigated the film before, and while the results were inconclusive, they believed it could be a possible hoax.