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Snowbeast’s Stefano Dies

Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 30th, 2006

Snow Beast

Joseph Stefano appears in a publicity photo with one of his monster creations.

Joseph Stefano, who will be most remembered in the mainstream media as the scriptwriter for the plot twist in Psycho, according to the Washington Post, has died of a heart attack August 25 at the Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, California. He was 84.

From a cinematic cryptofictional point of view, Stefano will be most recalled, however, affectionately for several television and motion picture achievements dealing with creatures and monsters. His life appeared to have always pointed in that direction. When he started working with Alfred Hitchcock, he thought he would be working on some thoughtful melodramas and mysteries. Instead, he was handed the Psycho script to rewrite.

As the Post notes:

Joseph William Stefano was born May 5, 1922, in south Philadelphia, [but]…he left for New York weeks shy of his high school graduation and took the name Jerry Stevens.

Leslie Stevens, an old Greenwich Village friend, created “The Outer Limits” for ABC in 1963 and recruited Mr. Stefano as a supervisory writer and producer. During the next two seasons, Mr. Stefano helped set the eerie tone of the series, which mirrored “The Twilight Zone.”

* * *

Mr. Stefano worked on many small-screen suspense dramas but periodically was lured back into film work. This resulted in a feline-based horror film called “Eye of the Cat” (1969) and a social drama about a man-woman-pig triangle, “Futz!” (1969), concocted by the off-Broadway experimental director Tom O’Horgan, best known for bringing “Hair” to Broadway.

The cryptofiction links came mostly from two television productions, for which he was the primary screenwriter: “Snowbeast” (1977) and “Swamp Thing” (1990, the series).

Snow Beast

While the monster of “Snowbeast” continued the myth that “abominable” creatures of the snows are all-white, the television movie has taken on nearly legendary status.

The plot involves a Bigfoot that starts attacking and eating skiers who are at the Rill Ski Resort in Colorado. Needless to say, the winter carnival is disrupted by the hairy terror of the monster of the moment, the Snowbeast.

Snow Beast

Can you name these stars in “Snowbeast”?

Of course, no one believes the Snowbeast is anything but a bear initially. But there are “naturalists” who speak up that it could be a Yeti (?) – allegedly, according to the script, the creature that was seen for years in the Colorado Rockies and Pacific Northwest of America.

The reality of the Snowbeast seems confirmed when ski patrolman Tony Rill (Robert Logan) sees a white creature vanishing into the mountain forest. Although Tony’s grandmother Mrs. Carrie Rill (Syliva Sidney), who owns the ski resort and the town sheriff, Sheriff Paraday (Clint Walker) disagree, there is little doubt in anyone’s mind after the creature finally attacks more people in town. Finally, two ski champions (Bo Svenson and Yvette Mimieux) come to the rescue of the ski industry and go in hot pursuit of the beast.

Mimieux Snow Beast

This is not a photo of Yvette Mimieux with the Snowbeast, but here she is starring in The Time Machine.

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


5 Responses to “Snowbeast’s Stefano Dies”

  1. Lee Murphy responds:

    Creator of one of the all-time greats: THE OUTER LIMITS.

    Dan Curtis (Dark Shadows creator) also died this year.

  2. shumway10973 responds:

    these shows were wonderful. I love most of the outer limits (some do get kinda weird). If nothing else, he had imagination. Prayers with his family, and hopefully he is in heaven setting up the truth about the snowbeast documentary.

  3. Kelly responds:

    Joseph was a friend of my uncle’s. My Uncle is Leonard Stone and was in an Outer Limit’s ep with Robert Culp (The Architects of Fear). A couple years ago Joseph had me at the famous Villa Di Stefano to hear me pitch a film idea I had (now in development with IMG at Universal). He told me it was the most exciting idea in Sci-Fi he had heard in years. Needless to say, I was blown away. This compliment came from my absolute idol. The original Outer Limits had no budget but more imagination and dramatic value than anything since in my estimation. It had crossed my mind to call him a few weeks ago…I should have. He will be missed and I feel very sad.

  4. Lee Pierce responds:

    Mr. Stefano created many hours of fun entertainment for me as I was growing up. One of the best.

  5. Grant responds:

    I cannot say enough about The Outer Limits and its influence on me. To me (and countless others), “The Sixth Finger” is one of the best SF stories ever to appear on television, along with many other episodes of the show.



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