- On the phone with Donrad - Summer 1999
Amongst the greatest actors and films that have graced the silver screen, horror films have possibly the most ardent fans. The horror genre has brought us some of our most memorable characters as well as storylines. Universal Studios had created some of the most legendary of all "monster" movies which thrust some stars into that legendary status. These particular films set a standard and spawned many a remake, sequel and/or inspiration. Bela Lugosi will forever be remembered as Dracula, Lon Chaney, Jr. as the Wolfman and Claude Rains as the Invisible Man. There is also the Frankenstein monster, Phantom of the Opera and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
In the case of the Creature, or more correctly named the Gill Man, this was a character in which you never did get to see the face of the actor portraying the monster due to the prosthetics.The original Gill Man was portrayed by Ben Chapman. Ben is the last surviving actor of the legacy era of Universal Studios' most famous horror films. Gone are luminaries as Bela, Lon, Claude, Boris Karloff and Vincent Price, all passed on but their stars still shine bright thanks to Universal's reissues of the classic films on DVD. Ben, being a member of this esteemed group, is still alive and well and most happy to talk about his filmmaking days, short as they may have been. He had the chance to meet with and work with some of Hollywood's best and we had the pleasure of chatting with him on the phone as our writer Donrad picked at Ben's memory for some inside information to how things were back in the days of wonder - before computer animation and such.
As Donrad puts it -
When I had arranged an interview with Ben Chapman, I figured that we would talk for maybe an hour or so. What I didn't expect was that four and a half hours later, we would only then be hanging up the phone. I'm certainly not complaining. It was a pleasure to talk with Ben. In fact, Ben was so nice, he seemed like an old friend that I had not seen in many years. Mr. Chapman is a very easy guy to talk to and has some of the best stories known about Hollywood. There are some things in this interview that I'm sure most of you have never known about him or the "Creature From The Black Lagoon". I'm sure that you'll enjoy finding out about it all as much as I did. It was an honor to converse with the last living Universal monster.-
K2K: You were the last great monster that Universal created. How does that feel?
BC: I feel very honored to be included in the Universal monster family.
K2K: What was the original working title of the Creature From The Black Lagoon?
BC: I always knew it as the Creature From The Black Lagoon but [producer] William Allan once called it "The Beasties".
K2K: How did you get the part of the Creature?
BC: I used to always go down to the casting office and ask what was going on. A woman named Jonny Rennick asked me if the studio approached me about a new movie they were making. She told me had something to do with a swamp and a monster. They needed a guy who could swim and she thought I'd be perfect. At that time, I lived in Malibu and I was in the water every day. [I] could dive sixty to seventy feet and hold my breath from three to four minutes. She asked me if I could come back the next day and I said, "Sure." The next day, I got the part. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time.
K2K: I noticed they didn't credit you in the movie. Why was that?
BC: Their theory was, if people at the end of the movie were to see the credits rolling down and they looked and saw "Gill Man - Ben Chapman", the public would think it was just a fake guy in a suit. So the studio figured that if they didn't give credit... I said, "Don't tell me you're going to try to pass this off to the American public that you really went down to the Amazon and caught this guy and brought him back here." They also did it to Boris Karloff in "Frankenstein" [the 1931 version]. Then, after that they gave him credit.
K2K: When the CFTBL came out, was it released simultaneously in 3-D and a regular print?
BC: No. The only thing I saw, when it came out, was 3-D. I didn't see it on a flat version. It was one of the earlier 3-D movies. I think it was the fifth, sixth or seventh movie shot in 3-D. The first 3-D movie, I think, was "Bwana Devil" with Robert Stack, then "House Of Wax" and the rest.
K2K: While watching the Creature, I was amazed that the claws didn't shred or rip the guys you were grappling with. Why was that?
BC: Actually, those claws, believe it or not, were very soft rubber, so I had to be very careful. They weren't hard. They were like sponges. If you look at some of the earlier scenes, where Professor Maia goes over and brings the others back, there's a shot of Julia standing there and you see the Creature's hand come out from under the water.
K2K: K2K: So you did do the part with the Creature's hand coming out of the water?
K2K: How many takes of that claw scene did you do?
BC: I can't remember. All I know is [director] Jack Arnold kept saying, "Now Benny, be careful. Don't just dig into that sand because you're going to bend the claws." So, if you look at it, you can see that when the Creature reaches up there, it's kind of gingerly as he's pulling back.
K2K: How did you like working with Jack Arnold?
BC: Jack and I got along. At the beginning it was a little touch and go, but we never had words. He was a very serious, no-nonsense kind of guy, but I respect people like that. What Jack Arnold said, went! He was very creative in what he did.
K2K: What about working with special-effects/make-up team Bud Westmore and Jack Kevan?
BC: Jack and I were very dear friends. He's still alive. Bud Westmore was head of make-up, so he gets credit for anything that's made on that lot. If you look at the credit, it says "Make-up - Bud Westmore." But, I would give the credit, as far as the creation of the Gill Man, to Chris Mueller who sculpted the head, and Jack Kevan who every day would supervise the putting together of the costume. Jack never got the recognition he should have. I always credit Chris Mueller and Jack Kevan.
K2K: How many outfits were made for you as the Creature?
BC: I'm asked that a lot. I have photographs of me with about four or five of them in the background.
K2K: Did you ever get to keep any of them?
BC: No, unfortunately. If anybody tells you they have an original costume, it's not true. They were made of foam rubber. They'd be powder today.
K2K: What about the helmet or headpiece of the Creature?
BC: I don't know what happened to them. Those were harder. They should have lasted. Believe it or not, a lot of that stuff was thrown away.
K2K: What was the original color of the costume for the Creature?
BC: Green. Kind of a dark, mossy green. Around the edges of the scales, it was highlighted in gold and copper to give it that "fishy" sheen.
K2K: Did the costume restrict your movement in any way?
BC: No. The costume was actually a one-piece body stocking all the way from my tippy toes to the head. They were all made of foam rubber. The studio took a complete Plaster of Paris impression of my body. They would mold all these different pieces and stick them right to the body suit. So, actually, when I got into it, it was like getting into a set of long underwear. That's the only way I can describe it, because that's what it was, but all the pieces were stuck into it. That's why it took two to three hours to get into it. Everything had to fit exactly. You couldn't have any creases. It was like an outer layer of skin.The mouth and the head did the same thing. If you see the Creature moving his mouth like he's gasping for air, look inside. That's my tongue. For the moving of the gills, they had these little rubber tubes on the back. They ran down to a tube that is off-camera, to a gentleman who has a little hand-pump. You've got to remember, this is 1953, not like today where everything is hi-tech.
K2K: Did you sweat a lot while wearing that costume?
BC: Again, it's a one-piece body stocking and your body does require your pores to breathe, otherwise you could be in trouble. If I wasn't in the water, or access to the water, there was a gentleman off to the side with a hose to hose me off and lower my body temperature.
K2K: Didn't Ricou Browning do the underwater scenes in all three of the Creature movies?
BC: Yes. He did the underwater parts in all three of them.
K2K: What is your relationship like with Ricou Browning?
BC: I haven't seen Ricou since the movie. I know some people have tried to get us together, but our schedules conflicted.
K2K: How many weeks did it take to film the CFTBL?
BC: Seven to eight weeks. You have to remember we were doing it in two places at the same time. The main cast was in California and the double were in Florida. In Florida, Ricou Browning doubled for me. Ginger Stanley doubled for Julia Adams. Stanley Crew doubled for Richard Carlson. A guy named Jack Betz doubled for Richard Denning.
K2K: Can you elaborate on what parts of the Creature you were in?
BC: This is the best way I can tell you how to separate this... You take the surface of the water. Anything below the surface of the water is them [the stunt doubles]. Anything above the water is us [the main cast]. That's the best way I can explain it to you. We [the main cast] did not do one scene underwater. I did do the underwater scene in the cage where they captured the Creature. I love that scene and I'll tell you why. Jack Arnold lighted the cage from inside. It was lighted from underneath and it gave the Creature's eyes a great shot.
K2K: Did you actually get caught on fire in the one scene on the boat?
BC: No, they did not set me on fire. I went through the simulation of being on fire, then I dove off the boat. A guy named Al Wyatt [who was Rock Hudson's stunt double] duplicated my movements while on fire.
K2K: What about the Creature noises. Were those yours or were they dubbed?
BC: They were made up in post production. When I was doing the scenes, I would go through with a (makes a big growling sound).
K2K: Did you have fun on the set?
BC: We had great times.
- K2K: Were there any bloopers on the set?
BC: Bloopers. Bloopers? There's one scene with Bernie Gozier [Zee] on the beach. He comes at me with a machete. Bernie and I both did stunts, so we staged that one. I told him to come at me but I couldn't see out of the eyes in the costume, so the scene didn't go exactly as planned. The knife came off of my hand wrong and slipped down on top of my head - blade first! Lucky for me it was a dull blade and I had a pretty thick helmet on [the Creature's headpiece]. When that happened, they all started yelling, "Cut! Cut!" I'm thinking it was a bad shot or "what's the matter?". They said, "Benny, are you all right?" I said, "Yeah. It didn't hurt me."The famous one was where I was carrying Julia through the grotto. I didn't know what happened as it was dark and I couldn't see where I was going. The next thing, she's kicking and screaming at me and they're yelling "Cut! Cut!" I said, "Julie. Quit kicking or I'm going to drop you." The the people came over and grabbed her and I asked what was going on. They said, "Christ, Benny. You just walked into one of the artificial rocks and hit Julie's head on them and they're hard." I said, "Oh my God!" Then they poke the eyes out of my costume so I could see. It wasn't like I knocked her unconscious, but it was something that would hurt. There was also a special occasion during the filming. I turned 25. But we didn't stop for a big party. Every day was work day.
K2K: Can You tell me anything about the dynamic music used on the CFTBL?
BC: The music is available on a record of CD now. There was a gentleman who was a staff writer. He was a nobody and worked just like everyone else, but you can hear his music. It's Henry Mancini. Henry was one of the arrangers on the music.The other thing is, when the Gill Man was around in the movie, you could hear a certain sound. When you heard that sound, you know "Oh, oh. He's around here some place." That idea was borrowed, I won't say stolen, by a gentleman who took it and made it into one of the all time great movies. The sound goes like this (as Ben makes the infamous score from the film "Jaws"). "Jaws"! There are no other movies that have that distinctive sound.
K2K: How ironic, wasn't the CFTBL and Jaws filmed in the same place?
BC: Yes. It's the same lake.
K2K: So, what was it like to hold and carry Julia Adams around?
BC: I still talk to Julia every once in a while. Of course, when we do talk, we still are amazed at the CFTBL. That 47 years later, it would be bigger than it was when it first came out. I mean, it was a good movie when it first came out and it did make money.There's some trivia that people don't know. The studio [Universal Studios] was on the verge of bankruptcy and the CFTBL saved it. That's a documented fact. So when the picture came out, it did very well. I believe "Frankenstein" did the same thing when Universal was in trouble back in the early 1930's. It came out, did very well, and saved them.
K2K: In the sequels to the CFTBL - "Revenge Of The Creature" and "The Creature Walks Among Us" - were you offered the role?
BC: No. I had left the studio already. A good friend of mine did do the "Revenge Of The Creature", a guy named Tom Hennessey. He's still alive. He used to do a lot of stunts. Don McGowan played the Creature in the "Creature Walks Among Us."
K2K: Any other Creature trivia that you can share with me?
BC: If you want to win some money, ask this question, "What was the name of the Creature's character in the movie CFTBL?" Sounds confusing but he was always called the "Gill Man." They never called him the "Creature." They only called him the Creature in "The Creature Walks Among Us." In other words, he was the Creature from the Black Lagoon who was called the Gill Man.Did you see the movie "Chinatown?" Remember the cop that was always following Jack Nicholson around and giving him a hard time? He was the guy I killed in the tent in the CFTBL. He name was Julio Lopez (who later changed his name to Perry Lopez). He later went on and did "Battle Cry."In "Revenge Of The Creature" there was a tall, skinny guy wearing a white smock. He had his very first words on screen. He had never been on film before and it was Clint Eastwood. He played the part of a lab technician and had about five lines.
K2K: Did you get to keep any props or memorabilia from the set?
BC: Yes. I had a set of hands. I gave them away. You've got to remember, God gave us only one gift. It's called 20/20 hindsight. 'I could've, I should've, but I didn't'. Had I known then what I know now. Every day that I would drive onto the lot and drive to the set. I would be a very busy guy around five o'clock running and grabbing stuff and sticking it in my trunk and saying, "I'm gonna save this for fifty years and then I'm gonna retire a millionaire."I did have the life mask they made of me. When I got home - I was living in Malibu, California, at the time - my wife asked me, "What are you going to do with that?" I said, "I don't know. The studio gave it to me." So, I took it down to the beach in front of our house, and kind of put it in the sand and covered the bottom parts of the base, tanned it with some kind of shoe polish, and then put a set of dark glasses and a hat on it. It looked like a guy who was buried up to his shoulders. We used to sit there on Sundays and watch people who'd walk up and down the beach. They would walk by and you could see them staring like, "Look at that guy buried over there. God, he's up to his shoulders and he's not moving." So, this was a big yuk-yuk. We moved a year or two later and my wife said, "What are we going to do with this?" (holding the life mask). I said, "I don't want it. Leave it here." Today that thing is priceless.Two or three weeks after production, I knew this one guy who worked in publicity. He called me and asked if I was going to be home for a while. I said, "Sure. Come on down." A little while later, he showed up and handed me this big manilla envelope about three inches thick. I thought they were scripts. It had every 8 x 10 photograph taken during the production of the movie. Years later, I gave them away to a little girl who told me she was a fan of the Creature.
K2K: Do you get any compensation from Universal for videos, toys, model kits or other Creature-related items?
BC: No. I don't get anything from them. Universal Studios and I are two separate people.
K2K: Are you aware of the DVD version of the CFTBL coming out?
BC: Yes. I did an interview with a guy named David Skal for the DVD release. He also did the biography channel thing on Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr. and Bela Lugosi. He's an excellent person.
K2K: Are you aware of the reissued Aurora "Creature" model kit from Polar Lights?
BC: No. the only thing I objected to on the Aurora CFTBL model was they have these teeth. These jagged teeth. I hate that. He didn't have teeth. It makes him look sinister and he's not a sinister looking person. Remember, the Gill Man was a nice guy. The scientists were the interlopers. That was the Gill Man's home. If you see at the very beginning when they first dove down, he was just curious. He would lay there in the weeds and just look at them. He'd never seen people like this. He wasn't really mad at the time, but when he saw the girl, he fell in love with her. Then, the Richard Denning character [Mark Williams] goes down and shoots him. Now he was pissed.
K2K: I agree. He reminds me more of "Beauty And The Beast".
BC: When I got the role, a lot of people asked me, "How did you guys work it out and make the movie that you did?" Well, we hadn't started production and I asked Jack Arnold, "How do you want me to play the Creature?" He said, "Don't make a cartoon out of him." When I got home, it finally sunk in my head that I've got to follow all these classic Universal actors like Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, Jr. and Claude Rains. Now it's in the 50's, it's my turn, and I'm following all these great footsteps. I thought to myself, "What made all these movies successful?" I didn't want to be the one to fall on my face. I've got to find out the key. "There's got to be a key. What do all these movies have in common?" It finally dawned on me. It was "Beauty and the Beast", King Kong, and all of them had a woman they were in love with.
K2K: I could relate to the Creature and the pain he was feeling.
BC: Yeah, well I did come back from the studio and I told Jack, "I think I have the key." He said, "What's that?" I said, "Beauty and the Beast. Julia is the Beauty and I'm the Beast. So, in other words, it has to be a love story." Evidently it all worked out. Another tough thing, actors have the advantage of using facial expressions. I had to use body language.
K2K: What's the best compliment you've had regarding the Creature?
BC: One of my best compliments was in a movie called "Seven Year Itch" with Marilyn Monroe. There's a scene where she and her date are walking out of a movie. If you look in the background, there's this huge marquee with this fifty-foot cutout of the Creature holding Julia Adams. Marilyn says, "... and I felt so sorry for the Creature." I almost fell out of my chair. To begin with, that's a 20th Century Fox movie and we were Universal Studios. So, I felt very honored that they chose the CFTBL.
K2K: Whatever happened to that fifty-foot Creature marquee from that theater in New York?
BC: Oh, boy would I like to know where that is. I have no idea. Like I say though, back in those days, they'd take that stuff and throw it away.
K2K: Did you ever meet Marilyn Monroe?
BC: Yes, at Peter Lawford's house. It was later in the evening and we were introduced. I told her, "Marilyn, I've got to tell you I love your work." She said, "Oh, thank you." I said, "I especially loved the 'Seven Year Itch'." She said, "Well, you know that's one of my favorites also." So I said, "Do you remember the scene when you were coming out of the theater and you'd gone to see a movie?". She said, "Oh, you mean the Creature From The Black Lagoon?" I said, "That's right. That's right. So, you know the Creature?" She said, "Oh yes." I'm thinking to myself, maybe she's putting me on, so I asked her, "Did Peter say anything about the Creature?" She said, "No. Why would Peter mention it?". I asked her, "Well, have you ever seen the movie?" She replied, "Oh yes. I saw the movie." I then asked her, "Did Peter tell you that I played the Gill Man?" She said (in a real sexy voice), "You did?" So, I felt very honored. Here she is gushing out at me when I should be gushing out at her.
K2K: You had the best of both worlds. You weren't credited in the movie and you had a mask on so no one really knew what you looked like.
BC: Definitely. For years I never told people because you do a movie then you move on, or whatever your next project is. To me it was a movie assignment and that was the end of it. I didn't realize what was happening to the movie, that it was becoming more and more the Gill Man. I separate the Gill Man and I. So, I will talk in two different tenses, "He and I." That's another thing that happens to celebrities. They get locked into that role and they stay there. They really believe that they are whatever that role is.
K2K: Did you ever get to meet Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi or Lon Chaney, Jr.?
BC: Yes. I've met all three of them, because I was at the studio and under contract at the time. Karloff was just the sweetest man in the world. He was a very handsome and distinguished man, you know. He's from England and used to wear these beautiful tweed suits, with his gray hair, he was so handsome and spoke so beautifully. I was primarily an entertainer. I've never professed to be an actor. I was an entertainer who became an actor. I'm originally from Tahiti and what I used to do is dance.
K2K: Did you play the ukulele?
BC: No. No. I mean, I play a ukulele, but that was not my thing. My thing was dancing and singing. I don't know if you've ever been to a luau or ever seen any Polynesian shows, but you see the fire knife and the Tahitian dancing, well that's what I used to do. But that was over 50 years ago.
K2K: Are you aware of the value of CFTBL items?
BC: When I go to collector's shows, I go to all the dealers and ask if anybody has any CFTBL stuff. They usually say no. I learned from dealers the rarity of CFTBL collectibles. An original one-sheet poster is going for $5,000, but you can buy repos for around $20. I've seen a six-sheet poster, which is very large, go for around $20,000.
K2K: What other films did you do, other than CFTBL?
BC: I did television. I was the original Lieutenant on "Hawaiian Eye" with Robert Conrad. I did a lot of "Adventures In Paradise" with Gardner McKay.
K2K: What is your favorite movie of all time?
BC: My favorite of all time is "Casablanca." To me, "Casablanca" was the most perfect cast movie there is. Everybody in there was perfect for what they were doing.
K2K: What kind of music do you like and who is your favorite musician or band?
BC: You can put Frank Sinatra up there and just leave it there. I loved everything that Frank ever did. I used to play cards with Frank over at Peter Lawford's house. Don't get me wrong, Frank and I weren't palsy-walsy, but whenever I cam over to Peter's house, we were friends. People ask what he was like personally. Well, he was a nice guy.
K2K: What do you think of most movies today?
BC: One of the objections I have with movie making today is, they get all these 25-year-old kids that are out of college. All they know is profit and loss. They have no idea at all what a good script is, what a bad script is, what an actor is... they have no idea. I'd rather sit home and watch AMC than some new movie.
K2K: Did you ever meet legendary monster artist Basil Gogos?
BC: Yes. Basil's a nice guy and does beautiful paintings.
K2K: Did you ever meet Betty Page?
BC: No. People always ask me that. She was in my era, but no.
K2K: How do you feel about signing autographs and meeting your fans?
BC: Oh, I love it. I'm very close to fans. I do seminars at the shows I do. Usually, in the seminars, they introduce you, then you get up onstage and everybody's clapping. When I sit down, I say, "I want to thank you very much for the wonderful reception, but before I go any further, I've got to tell you something." I then look at all of the crowd and say, "I take it you're all Creature From The Black Lagoon fans. I want to applaud you for being faithful, for being faithful fans of the Gill Man and keeping him alive all these years, because without you people, he would have been dead, buried and forgotten a long time ago. I really appreciate this and I want to thank you very much." Fans are my first consideration when I do shows. I'm very "hands on." There are a lot of celebrities you walk up to and ask, "Can I take your picture?" and they'll say, "Well, you know, it's going to cost you $5." I see this all the time and to me, you should be lucky that a guy walks up to you and asks that. I mean, why would you charge him? You should get up there and say, "Oh, thank you very much for taking my picture."My thing, because I like to put people on, is, fans will come up - I'll be sitting there laughing or something - and say, "Hey, can I take your picture?" I'll change my face to look real serious and say, "No!" But the only reason that I do that is (laughing) I want to see their reaction. Then I'll say, "I'm only kidding." Then I ask them, "How about a picture of you and I together? Why would you want to take a picture of me?" They say, "Would you?" This is the way I treat people, but I treat them in a nice way. I treat them with respect. I treat them as fans. We are at that show to have a good time. There are so many celebrities that I see sitting at their table and half of them look like they're not having a good time.
K2K: I've noticed that and was wondering why they even show up if they don't enjoy the fans.
BC: Right. Well, my big thing is that I'm in the aisles and talking to the people as they walk by. When I do shows, sometimes I may have five or six hours straight of lines coming up at me. When it does run out at the end of the day, everybody's saying, "Hey Benny, how about sending some of those over to us?" I say, "Hey, all you have to do is become the Gill Man in the Creature From The Black Lagoon. You just got the wrong role." The nice thing about doing those shows is that I run into people that I haven't seen in years. I was in San Francisco doing a show recently and I knew Adam West was going to be there. We're old friends. We go back to where he wasn't even Adam West. He went by his real name. He used to be a disc jockey here in Hawaii. It was real nice to see him again.
K2K: How many appearances and shows do you do in a year?
BC: Well, I've already done six, then there's one in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania called the "Monster Bash", so that will give me seven for the year  already, plus I've go to come back to Honolulu here and do a thing called the "Hawaii All-Collectors Show." Hawaii is not really geared for what I do over there in the States. In other words, to do these conventions signing autographed photos.
K2K: There's not really a market for it in Hawaii?
BC: Right. The people over there in the States love "Frankenstein", or they love CFTBL, so when we're all there, it's like shopping at a grocery store, you know, like "Where's the Creature?" In Hawaii, we live in an entirely different world over here. What I mean by that is, we wear T-shirts and shorts 365 days of the year. We don't have cold weather. The record lows since they've been keeping track is only fifty degrees. It's very small over here. Once in a while someone will approach me and I have things that I do sign and give away.
K2K: Are there any autographs you've collected over the years?
BC: No. There's two things that I am not - I'm not a tourist and I don't collect autographs. For the simple reason that celebrities do not impress me because I've been around them for over 50 years. It's like two guys who work in an office. They're not impressed with each other because they do the same thing. But there are certain people I'd like to meet.
K2K: Do you have any philosophies?
BC: I have a belief. Ask, and all they can say is 'no'. Another adage is: I don't believe in gray. I believe in black and white. By that, I mean I can accept a yes or a no but I cannot accept a maybe.
K2K: What is your birthdate?
BC: I'm a Scorpio. October 29th is by birthday.
K2K: Do you get a lot of email?
BC: Yes. I get mail from all over the world and I answer every one of them.
K2K: I like your business card. I think it's one of the nicest cards I've ever seen.
BC: It was a fan who made it for me. He also made my hundred dollar bills and the return address things I put on my envelopes - a guy in the Air Force named Bill Edwards. The nice thing is that fans want to do things for you.
K2K: How long have you been on the convention circuit?
BC: About seven years now. I enjoy doing it.
K2K: Do you manage yourself or do you have an agent?
BC: I manage myself. I don't need all sorts of managers hanging around me.
K2K: Does Julia Adams do conventions?
BC: No. She's not even interested. She's a very private person.
K2K: What have you been doing other than conventions?
BC: I'm a househusband.
K2K: How long have you lived in Hawaii?
BC: 25 years. I left the mainland in 1970, then I moved back to Tahiti.
What did you do for employment?
BC: I worked in the travel business from around 1970 to 1979. Then I went into time sharing. Then I went into real estate for about 15 years. Then I finally retired when I turned 70.
K2K: I heard you were in the United State Marine Corps.
BC: Yes. I was in the Korean War. I was with the 1st Marine Division in Korea. My oldest son, Ben, is also in the Marine Corps. He's a sergeant in a Recon team in intelligence. His specialty is the Middle East. He went to a school in Monterey, California, called DLI - Defense Language Institute - it's a very famous language school. He's always been a very smart person. He was reading newspapers at six years old. He's always been a straight-A student.
K2K: How many kids do you have?
BC: I have two sons and a daughter. My son Ben, who I just told you about, is 22., my stepson Grant is 14 and I have a daughter named Elsye Maree who is 45, has two kids and lives in Orange County. The love of my life is a woman named Merrilee. We've been together for close to 20 years now. I'm very happy. I've always been blessed with my life. I've always been in the right place at the right time.
- There was considerably more to this chat that got away from the interview and more into personal philosophies and what is going on with his current life in Hawaii and such. It was very nice to have Ben share his thoughts and memories with us. Ben can be found on his own "Creature From The Black Lagoon" website, as the official Ben Chapman site, at:
- You can also email Ben directly at - Ben@webtv.net.
- Written by Donrad / forward intro by Philip Anderson / Photos courtesy of Ben Chapman