Did you know that the 1970s would not have been the 1970s we know and love without the original Bigfoot video?
In 1967, Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin filmed a hulking, ape-thing creature skulking through the Northern California forest.
When the footage hit the mainstream, people were intrigued, frightened, humored, inspired.
Mostly, though, folks were abuzz — what was this thing? Were their others? Would it kill us? Should we kill it? Would it save us?
Soon enough, the creature — real or not — had a name: Bigfoot.
For more than 50 years, we’ve debated the veracity of that original Bigfoot video and whether or not the creature really exists, but there’s one thing for sure … we have loved Mr. Sasquatch right from the beginning.
In fact, Bigfoot played a big role in shaping the 1970s as we know them. In that, his timing was impeccable.
Below are just a few of the many ways he molded a decade, and it all started with that original Bigfoot video.
It took TV a little while to really grab on to the Bigfoot phenomenon, but when it did, our small screens exploded with fur and growls.
Here are just a few examples.
The Six Million Dollar Man
About halfway through Steve Austin’s run into our hearts and imaginations as The Six Million Dollar Man, the bionic dude runs into some trouble.
Well, I mean he always runs into trouble, but this time it’s, uh, big trouble.
That’s because, when a couple of geologist friends disappear, Steve flexes his sleuthing skills and uncovers what just may be a Sasquatch print. Is it really Bigfoot?
They answer is revealed over the course of two episodes, but let me just say … Andre the Giant.
You didn’t hear it here.
Is Captain Caveman a bigfoot?
Not in the way we traditionally understand Sasquatches because, for one thing, Cavey is shorter than the shorties he’s always romancing.
On the other hand, he does have big feet (and a big nose to match), and his brown fur “coat” is unkempt. So unkempt that he keeps all sorts of MacGyer/Inspector Gadget/Dagwood Bumstead stuff in there.
He’s more sociable than your typical Biggie, but he’s also rough enough around the edges that you gotta figure his creation in 1977 was not pure coincidence.
The Incredible Hulk
Sure, Hulk was born about five years before the Patterson-Gimlin film emerged, but he didn’t really take off until 1978. That’s when Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno brought the big green guy to television screens and introduced us all to the “Hulk out.”
Would we have been so eager to see a big green dude running down a gravel road in tattered clothes and bare feet after accidentally knocking over a windmill were it not for the romance of that original Bigfoot video?
I think not!
What sort of dude could hole up in the mountains and cavort with bears while building a life for himself out of trees, dirt, and spit … using just his bare hands and whiskers?
Yeah, I think a Sasquatch could pull that off.
Grizzly Adams would have us believe that Dan Haggerty could do it, too.
Now, I’m not saying Haggerty or Grizzly was actually a bigfoot, but the evidence points in that direction. Heck, maybe the real mountain-man Adams was inspiration for two centuries of sightings.
Bigfoot and Wildboy
The Sasquatch craze seems to have hit its peak in 1977, judging by the fact that all of the items on this list so far overlapped in that year.
Bigfoot and Wildboy fits that bill, too.
This baby began as 15-minute shorts during The Krofft Supershow on Saturday mornings, then spun up into hits own standalone series in 1979.
In case the title doesn’t give it away, the story goes that Bigfoot finds a lost boy in the Pacific Northwest forest … and decides to raise him.
When the kid gets a little age on him, Biggie Daddy and Lost Boy begin … um … fighting crime and, well, aliens.
This show does not exist without Patterson & Gimlin.
But also — bless them.
No less than a dozen movies with a Bigfoot theme made it to the light of day during the 1970s.
They were cheesy. They were campy. They were glorious.
And do you think a single one of them would have been even a twinkle in someone’s eye without that original Bigfoot film footage?
Nah, baby. Nah.
Once TV started rolling down the Bigfoot trail, it was only a matter of time before toy makers began cashing in, too.
Here are a few of the Sasquatch baubles that made kids’ wishlists in the grooviest decade.
Yep, this went right along with the Bionic Man special episodes and featured James Brolin in a fur suit after he ate the Times Square New Year’s Apple.
That may not be quite right, but it seems to fit the general appearance.
Also, he got to ride around on a cool Sasquacycle.
Remote Control Yeti
Technically, this is more of an abominable snowman than a ‘Squatch, but legend has it the two are sorta related, anyway.
And besides, this thing looks a lot like the Bumble from Rudolph, so that’s a big win. No word on whether it still has teeth or bounces.
(And, yes, these were actually made in the 1960s, but kids in the 1970s were nothing if not willing recipients of hand-me-down and garage sale toys. So … it fits.)
Ben Cooper Hairy & Scary Bigfoot Halloween Costume
This is one of those costumes that comes with a contoured mask that covers just your face and fits to your head with a rubber band. It also comes with a plastic body bib thing that is ready to catch your Halloween-night binge when it comes back up for you to retaste.
And the mask is freaking scary — a 98% match for my Aunt Fred.
Speaking of Brolin (like we were, up above), have you ever seen him in The Amityville Horror? He’s the epitome of a 1970s (heading for the 80s, living in the … oh, wait) man — fit, strong, flowing black hair, vicious black beard and ‘stache, demons on the inside.
And he looks like a Bigfoot. A totally hunky Bigfoot, but a Bigfoot all the same.
It wasn’t just Brolin, either.
It was Haggerty, and the Bee Gees, and Mike Schmidt, and Oscar Gamble, and every damn dude in the 1970s.
We were shaggy freaks, and it was all OK, because we learned it by watching you, Mr. Bigfoot.