What Is The Future Image of Bigfoot?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 19th, 2008

What is in store for the next twenty years of Bigfoot? What visual imagery does the next generation have in mind for Bigfoot?

What can we learn from the past recent history of the appearances of Sasquatch about the future look of the hairy hominoids?

Twenty years ago, one movie changed the image of Bigfoot. During the previous twenty years, from 1967 through 1987, the psychological and visual Bigfoot was the one seen in the Patterson-Gimlin footage, that of a zaftig (indeed, quite zaftik) female Bigfoot walking along a sandbar in the forest.

From 1987 through today, while the P-G Bigfoot “Patty” may still be there in the background as an icon, the “Bigfoot” most people have deeply embedded in their psyche is the Academy-Awarding winning creation of makeup artist Rick Baker ~ a giant male Bigfoot named “Harry.”

Harry and the Hendersons (1987), an American film directed and produced by William Dear, was revealingly first released as Bigfoot and the Hendersons in the United Kingdom (although they have converted back to the American title today). Throughout the world, “Harry” equals “Bigfoot.”

As I wrote in Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America:

“Field observations do not reinforce the reality of Baker’s Harry, but the forehead and white facial hair have become a prominent reflection of how the ‘modern’ Bigfoot should appear, at least, to the generation that was ten to sixteen in 1987.”

As I note in The Field Guide to Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates Worldwide, most Bigfoot are actually varied and diverse around the globe.

Nevertheless, the image of “Harry” continues to serve as the media model for what is “seen.”

Sasquatch became a friendly creature you could invite into your home, and the most popular Bigfoot film of all time, Harry and the Hendersons merely cemented this thought. Harry caused Bigfoot to lose a lot of their rural mystic.

Bigfoot would never be the same after the 1987 blockbuster. They had become creatures of the suburbs.

As mentioned in my analysis of Harry and the Hendersons in Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America, I find the “expert” characters in Harry and the Hendersons to have been based on real people (see my suggestions below the videos).

I noted that (1) the French-Canadian pro-kill hunter “Jacques LaFleur” (played by David Suchet, famed for his Hercule Poirot roles) was clearly but loosely modeled on Swiss-born Canadian Saquatch hunter René Dahinden, and (2) the “no kill” Bigfoot expert “Dr. Wallace Wrightwood” played by Don Ameche appears to be a combo of three people: British Columbia Sasquatch chronicler John Green, the late anthropologist Dr. Grover Krantz, and former Bigfoot museum owner Cliff Crook. “Wrightwood’s” appearance and movie-shown publications mirror Green’s, his academic status was similar to Krantz’s, and the museum and its contents reflected Crook’s, who actually supplied props and the museum idea to the filmmakers. (BTW, Wikipedia incorrectly leaves out Crook and has it that I think Irish Bigfooter Peter Byrne is part of the “Wrightwood” character, which I do not consider to be a fact at all.)

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. 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. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

20 Responses to “What Is The Future Image of Bigfoot?”

  1. Holmes responds:

    Sounds like you don’t think Bigfoot is real Loren. I think if it is real the Patterson image and its male counterpart would be what its image would be.

    I’ve asked you a couple times about the Patterson film image. Why hasn’t that costume ever been copied if it is fake? Most of the other film images I’ve seen of Bigfoot are obvious phonies but the Patterson film makes me wonder.

  2. Loren Coleman responds:

    I find the above comment one of the most remarkable ones I’ve ever read, and it makes me think, perchances, this “Holmes” hasn’t been doing his detective work.

    My record is rather clear with regard to my thinking about Bigfoot being a “true story in America” (to coin a phrase – LOL) and the reality of the Patterson footage, for anyone who has read my books and blogs.

    I don’t think that the image of “Harry” is a good reflection of what people are seeing out in the field and woods, however. That’s the underlying theme here.

  3. kittenz responds:

    I don’t believe that Patty is real, and if “she” isn’t, then that film has done Bigfoot investigation a disservice in some ways, because so many people have that image of Bigfoot, and that one only, in mind. (Of course, if Patty is real, my point is moot :)).

    That’s not to say I think that Bigfoot don’t exist. People are seeing and hearing (and smelling) something, but I just don’t view either the “Harry” version or the “Patty” version as a plausible animal.

    Given the human penchant for exaggeration, especially in the excitement of an unexpected encounter with, say, a Bigfoot, I doubt that the animals are a massive as has been assumed. I picture a more gracile animal, built more along the lines of humans or our close relatives such as apes or australopithecines, able to move fast and climb well in heavy cover. Since they apparently do not use fire or wear any kind of clothing, they must have some sort of haircoat, probably more or less long and/or thick depending on the areas in which they occur. Like most apes, monkeys, and humans their faces and hands would be relatively hairless, at least to an extent that would allow for very mobile expression. As a rule, apes don’t have color phases, but people certainly do, and so Bigfoot may also have a variety of skin and hair colors.

    Do Bigfoot exist? I don’t know. I’ve never seen one, but then I’ve never seen a lot of animals, except in photos, whose existence I don’t doubt. When you toss out all the obvious hoaxes and misidentifications, there are still a lot of sightings and encounters involving a lot of credible witnesses who believe that they have seen or heard Bigfoot. If they exist, then eventually one will be captured or killed, or a dead one will be found somewhere. I doubt that it will closely resemble either Harry or Patty.

  4. bill green responds:

    hey loren this is a very informative new article about sasquatch. i realy like the above comments as well. thanks bill green 🙂

  5. Holmes responds:

    In regards to your reply to me all I was saying is if Bigfoot is real, I don’t think the “image” of it should change. The only image of it that I’ve seen that looks like a real creature is the Patterson film image. I’ve never seen another piece of video footage that resembles that one with actual muscle movement that can be seen plus the addition of the mammaries suggesting it was female.

    Has anyone else here reading this thread ever seen another piece of film that resembles the Patterson film?

  6. squatch-toba responds:

    I do think that Patty is real. I feel that there is just too much muscle detail, too much “natural” motion, the simple way that patty walks is too different from what one would do in a hoax. I think that if indeed it was a hoax, someone would have come forward by now. I don’t feel that Patterson nor Gimlin had the resorces to do this… not in 1967 for sure. Any and all film or video that has been shot since then simply pales in comparison to the Bluff Creek film. One could go on and on about this film and the footprints at the location, but if people don’t think the Bluff Creek Bigfoot is real then explain how it was done! How was this pulled off? Many have tried, none have been able to. The evidence toward this film being real far out weighs the contrary! For this reason I think that this is exactly what a sasquatch looks like because… it is one! Oh by the way Loren, anyone who thinks that you don’t believe in sasquatch should really pick up a couple, better yet ALL, of your wonderful books and do a little homework!!!

  7. kittenz responds:

    No apes, not people, not chimps, not gorillas – not even furry little gibbons – have fur-covered breasts. Patty’s breasts are as furry as the rest of “her”. That overlooked detail was what first made me suspicious that the P/G film is a hoax. I haven’t seen anything that convinces me otherwise; in fact, the more often I see it, the more inconsistencies I see.

  8. Loren Coleman responds:

    While I usually agree with kittenz on most things, I cannot leave her comment right above without a reply.

    The reality, which Sanderson and others have spoken to since 1967, is that most female (and male) primates (yes, especially monkeys, apes, and humans) do have hair on their breasts. The hair is usually lighter, not as dense, and may not appear there unless you look closely, but there is hair there.

    Often the circular pigmented areola may be surrounded by distinctive growths of hair, being a hint of the hair growth that indeed does cover the rest of the primate breast.

    There may be a selective factor or advanced age reason for the display of a more visible field of hair (not fur) on the female Bigfoot, as shown on the Patterson-Gimlin footage. Remember, this is one example of one Sasquatch, and may not necessarily be reflective of what is found among all Bigfoot.

  9. kittenz responds:

    I usually agree with Loren on most things, too.

    When I say that apes (and by extrapolation I mean people and Bigfoot too) do not have fur-covered breasts, I do not mean to imply that they have no hair at all. They do have very fine hair on the breasts – fine hair that is obviously different than the fur or hair on most of the rest of the body. When the animal is not lactating, the breasts are smaller and the hair is more noticable. But the animal in the P/G film has large “breasts” covered with what looks like the same kind of fur on the rest of its torso. You just don’t see that in any living ape.

    That’s not the only inconsistency I see in the P/G film; it was just the one that raised my suspicions and caused me to doubt its authenticity. Although I remain open-minded about Bigfoot in general, I am convinced that the P/G film is a hoax. I don’t guess that anything will change my mind about that, except maybe more film of animals that look just like Patty (allowing for the normal variations that can be expected within any species, of course).

    I greatly respect your opinions and Cryptomundo, Loren, and I think that you are the best cryptozoological writer since Sanderson. (I didn’t always agree with him either ;)).

    It’s nice to have a forum wherin people can respectfully disagree.

  10. CamperGuy responds:

    For what its worth…..

    Firmly in the camp that accepts the reality of Sasquatch.

    Skeptical of the Patterson film but would not go so far as to say it is a hoax.

    Though I agree with Kittenz on the unusualness of the fur covered breasts I have no problem accepting that this could just as easily be a unique feature of Sasquatch. I believe reports of presumed male Sasquatch have fur covered chests as well though males of other species may not. This may be an environmental adaptation.I am curious about the qualities of the Sasquatch hair. How well does it insulate? Does it repel water?

    Considering Sasquatch habitat is frequently associated with wet areas or climate I don’t recall a report of a Sasquatch being seen with wet soaked fur clinging to its body.

  11. Holmes responds:

    I am a hairy chested male and the hair is evenly distributed over my chest area and stomach.

  12. Lyndon responds:


    I’ll have to respectfully disagree with you regarding the ‘Harry’ image as being the type the general public has in mind.

    I still believe the Patty image is the one most people who consider bigfoot really think of, or at least something along those lines. Something dark and quite menacing. Those that have seen Harry and The Hendersons know full well that it’s a comedic caricature representation and if they were to hear of a bigfoot sighting it wouldn’t be the ‘Harry’ image that would spring to mind.

    From asking around I get the impression that most people think bigfoot is something to be worried/scared of if they were to encounter one. That isn’t ‘Harry’. The Patty image is still widely known both in still version and the moving footage version. It’s only my opinion but I don’t think most people think of a light haired grey bearded smiling ape man when the name bigfoot comes up.

    The people who openly dismiss bigfoot probably don’t have any set rigid image either way when the name is mentioned to them as they think it’s all a load of old nonsense.

    Of course I could be wrong but I’m just going by my own experiences of talking to other people. Bigfoot is scary to them. Patty is scary looking. Harry isn’t.

    My young nephew always used to hate me mentioning bigfoot, even though he saw the Harry film. Harry isn’t what stuck in his mind. That would be the Patty image.

  13. captiannemo responds:

    The Patterson Patty image along with the Image on the shoud of Turin is a matter of faith when you come down to it.
    People will look and see what their faith allows them to see.
    This is a GREAT SITE!

  14. squatch-toba responds:

    I had to reply to a couple of comments above. You must remember that we “assume” that the Patterson sasquatch is female!! What has been discribed as “female” breasts may not be so! There is a thought that they could be an inflatable air-sack of sorts. This may be how the sasquatch makes the low freqency sounds or sound waves that are reported. As far as being covered with hair, I would expect that it would be the norm for a large ape, not monkey, that lives in the climate that it does! Humans have fire and clothes for warmth, sasquatches have hair/fur… makes sense to me to have a complete covering including breasts. And I could be totaly wrong… but it would explain the covering of hair. Personaly I think that Patty is a “normal” female sasquatch, just doin’ what a sasquatch does…hairy breasts and all!

  15. dogu4 responds:

    Sadly, if BF’s whereabouts is confirmed and contact is made, I suspect their days of peace and relative quite will come crashing down as they will be given a huge amount of attention and ultimately featured in their own reality based show “Meet the ‘Squatches”, until such time as the viewing public will grow tired of them and we’ll find them opening supermarkets, endorsing athletic shoes, going to re-hab, along with the Osbornes.

  16. Doug responds:

    One of the things that bothers me about the whole sasquatch phenom (in North America) is the wild variation of appearances of the creature. There are black, brown, blonde, red/auburn, white and gray ones as well as black skin and human colored flesh. The facial features also vary greatly, as with Harry and Patty, with some looking very ape-like while others looking almost human, and everything in between (the artist’s rendering of the skunkape face that Dan Jackson encountered even looks different from those mentioned above).

    I know there can be differences between individuals of the same species, and the possibility of different species or even subspecies that may have developed along the way, but since there are supposed to be so few that is a lot of variation.

    Then again, there is so little we do know we can only make a lot of assumptions since we have never actually studied them in detail.

  17. DWA responds:

    Not to get into yet another “Patty: Is She or Isn’t She?” discussion.

    But it’s certainly a good time to point out again – as others already have – that all animals have at least one feature that makes them unique. As kittenz pointed out, humans are alone among members of the ape clade in having color phases (actually, at least one species of gibbon – I believe the siamang – has markedly different coloration between male and female). That Patty’s breasts are as hairy as they are is something I would expect of – or at least not find unusual in – an animal that (a) had breasts that big and (b) had to keep them warm in temperate-zone winters and (c) hadn’t developed fire or clothing to take care of that.

    That they might not be breasts at all, at least not as we think of them functionally, is an interesting idea. But so many sightings don’t note them at all that my suspicion is they are what most of us humans think they are when we see them.

  18. jerrywayne responds:

    Patty v. Harry

    “Patty”: Patterson’s film is THE iconic concept of sasquatch among bigfoot advocates and other crypto enthusiasts. To me, however, the Patterson image looks more like popular conceptions (circa 1950’s) of the yeti, rather than the bigfoot of earlier eyewitness accounts.

    “Harry”: Perhaps “Harry” is the first idea some people have of bigfoot in the same way that popular notions of Frankenstein’s creature are based on Karloff’s monster. Why did the film makers create this particular image of bigfoot rather than some other image? I suggest this answer: when the make up artists did their research, they may have consulted Sanderson’s “Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life”. Sanderson included in the photos section of his book a remarkable photo of an orangutan, remarkable for it’s human like face. My first impression of “Harry” was: Hey, it’s Sanderson’s orangutan!

  19. springheeledjack responds:

    I guess I am in the Patty camp when it comes to the visual icon of BF. Now, I may be biased because I am familiar with the BF phenomenon and have spent more time reading about BF than proably your average joe…or josey to be appropriate. So the average movie watcher may be aligned with Harry.

    However, I think the Patty image has been out there for a long time, and really gotten more press than Harry overall.

    Good points above…I was going to ask Kittenz what it was that made her doubt the Patty footage, but she answered before I had to ask–thanks! The Patty footage is still one of the best conversatoin starters when it comes to BF and cryptozoology in general, and I find it interesting that since that footage, we still have not come up with anything as comparable (ironic and too bad:).

    So, on that note, I think it is time to come up with another vid/pic/etc. that will start out this century with more to talk about…assuming we don’t get to the bottom of this in the near future.

    However (do I love that word, or what?), this century has also ushered in a new era on images, videos, etc. with the computer age, and I am not sure just how trusting we can be of any images that come our way…sure Photoshopping can be found out, but it keeps getting harder and harder to pick out the frauds from the real images–look how much time we have to spend here sifting through all of the You-Tube garbage, not to mention the good hoaxes.

    The ultimate answer, is that I think it’s time we offered BF a three movie deal with merchandising rights…BF action figures with rock throwing action…could he/she honestly turn that down…

  20. kittenz responds:

    Some gibbon species do have two color phases, but they are not color phases in the sense that, say, black leopards are. In crested gibbons, the color phases are sex-linked. The adult females are a light buff or whitish color, and the adult males are black or blackish. The babies are light, like the mothers, and as they begin to mature they turn dark, with the females becoming light colored as they reach sexual maturity.

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