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The Lady from the Black Lagoon

Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick

Mallory O'Meara



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05 March 2019
Film, TV & Radio; Individual actors & performers; Film & movie: styles & genres; Biography: general; Biography: arts & entertainment; Gender studies: women
2019 SCIBA Book Award Winner for Biography A Hugo and Locus Award Finalist Winner of the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Award The Los Angeles Times Bestseller A Thrillist Best Book of the Year A Book Riot Best Book of 2019 One of Booklist's 10 Best Art Books of the Year The Lady from the Black Lagoon uncovers the life and work of Milicent Patrick--one of Disney's first female animators and the only woman in history to create one of Hollywood's classic movie monsters As a teenager, Mallory O'Meara was thrilled to discover that one of her favorite movies, Creature from the Black Lagoon, featured a monster designed by a woman, Milicent Patrick. But for someone who should have been hailed as a pioneer in the genre, there was little information available. For, as O'Meara soon discovered, Patrick's contribution had been claimed by a jealous male colleague, her career had been cut short and she soon after had disappeared from film history. No one even knew if she was still alive.

As a young woman working in the horror film industry, O'Meara set out to right the wrong, and in the process discovered the full, fascinating story of an ambitious, artistic woman ahead of her time. Patrick's contribution to special effects proved to be just the latest chapter in a remarkable, unconventional life, from her youth growing up in the shadow of Hearst Castle, to her career as one of Disney's first female animators. And at last, O'Meara discovered what really had happened to Patrick after The Creature's success, and where she went.

A true-life detective story and a celebration of a forgotten feminist trailblazer, Mallory O'Meara's The Lady from the Black Lagoon establishes Patrick in her rightful place in film history while calling out a Hollywood culture where little has changed since.
By:   Mallory O'Meara
Edition:   Original ed.
Dimensions:   Height: 231mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 38mm
Weight:   490g
ISBN:   9781335937803
ISBN 10:   1335937803
Pages:   336
Publication Date:   05 March 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Mallory O'Meara is an author, screenwriter and a producer for the independent film company Dark Dunes Productions. Whether it is for the screen or the page, she seeks creative projects imbued with horror and monsters. A New England native, she now lives in Los Angeles.

Reviews for The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick

Engaging and compelling.... a fierce and often very funny guide to the distaff side of geekdom. --Los Angeles Times O'Meara's chatty, impassioned book, The Lady from the Black Lagoon, lifts Milicent Patrick out of the mire of obscurity. O'Meara is a dogged researcher and a fierce partisan...Patrick's story [has] resonances for today, when women in Hollywood still find themselves in the company of monsters. --Maureen Corrigan, NPR Fresh Air The Lady from the Black Lagoon describes the author's personal search for Patrick and is equal parts Hollywood history and detective story--and it's thrilling on both counts. --Christian Science Monitor With a story as full of character and drama as any movie, once The Lady from the Black Lagoon has you in its grip, it won't let go. --The Mary Sue The Lady From the Black Lagoon restores Patrick to the pantheon of Hollywood trailblazers, where she belonged all along. --Refinery29, Best Book of the Month Pick If you loved Hidden Figures, you'll love this much-overdue biography of Disney's first female animator, and Hollywood's only woman (still) to design a monster for a major motion picture. --Town and Country The Lady from the Black Lagoon is a marvel. An incisive criticism of the erasure of women in Hollywood through the lens of the life and legacy of Milicent Patrick. --Bustle Captivating and exhaustively researched...This is a fascinating slice of Hollywood history with a feminist slant, correcting a sexist wrong from decades ago and restoring Patrick to her rightful place of esteem. --Publishers Weekly (starred review) An idiosyncratic, much-needed biography of 'a woman before her time'... Jam-packed with many funny, goofy footnotes, this passionately written biography will do much to bring Patrick the recognition she deserves. --Kirkus Reviews There's never a dull moment in this beautiful, heartfelt tribute to a pioneering special-effects designer and animator and passionate call for change in the industry that forgot her. --Booklist (starred review) Particularly timely in light of the #MeToo movement, this book is more than simply a tribute to a forgotten pioneer of special effects and makeup design, Milicent Patrick. ... This engaging, forthright, and personal history of both the author and her muse will be a valuable addition to most libraries. --Library Journal Fascinating...This is a book that O'Meara was born to write, and she seamlessly meshes her own life story with that of her heroine in a way similar to how Julie Powell paid tribute to Julia Child in Julie and Julia...Even if you're not a fan of horror films, The Lady from the Black Lagoon is a riveting, sincere Hollywood saga that will quickly win your heart. --BookPage (starred review) Mallory O'Meara's book is a long-overdue tribute to Milicent Patrick, who made her way in Hollywood when women were never given equal standing. Patrick, an artist, actor, and colorful hostess, had an incredible life, and O'Meara lets us know the good and the bad of it. --Charlaine Harris The Lady From the Black Lagoon is not just a story that needed to be told, the exact right person told it. At some point, the book starts to resemble troika dolls: echoes of Milicent Patrick's life can be heard in Mallory O'Meara's life, and echoes of Mallory's can be heard in ours, the readers. It's then that you realize how profound this book really is. --Josh Malerman, author of Bird Box O'Meara's deep dive into this unfairly-forgotten genius of character creation enriches Hollywood history and should inspire future lady monster-makers for years to come. --Sam Maggs, author of Girl Squads and Wonder Women The woman behind the classic monsters of our collective Hollywood fantasies finally comes to life within this compelling odyssey of betrayal, broken dreams and shining resilience. Spanning the worlds of film, animation, horror and glamour, Mallory O'Meara richly reweaves the splintered mystery of Milicent Patrick into a dead-on expose of Hollywood then and now. Dive in! --Mindy Johnson, author of Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney's Animation The Lady from the Black Lagoon is a celebration of the life and shamefully overlooked work of Milicent Patrick. It's also an unflinching, from-the-front-lines recounting of Hollywood's toxic patriarchal culture, a history of all manner of monsters. You'll be infuriated at the legacy of continuing injustice but inspired by the talent, will, and spirit of Milicent Patrick and Mallory O'Meara. --Paul Tremblay author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the End of the World Like many women film pioneers, Milicent Patrick's trailblazing creature design and special make-up effects work has largely gone unrecognized, overlooked or even attributed to men. The Lady from the Black Lagoon shines a vital light on one of the unsung women heroes of cinema. --Jovanka Vuckovic, author of Zombies! An Illustrated History of the Undead The movie business is full of secret and forgotten histories. In The Lady from the Black Lagoon, Mallory O'Meara dives deep into one of these tales. She tells the story of Milicent Patrick, who designed an iconic monster and was an important Disney animator at a time when women were more tolerated than celebrated. Weaving strands of Hollywood lore with Patrick's biography and her own personal history, O'Meara has written a book that's as entertaining as it is necessary. --Richard Kadrey, author of Hollywood Dead With The Lady from the Black Lagoon, Mallory O'Meara has performed true magic. It's a non-fiction detective story, with O'Meara chasing the mystery of how the woman who designed one of cinema's most famous monsters was erased from movie history. It's an intimate, personal quest, and an irrefutable indictment of Hollywood sexism both past and present. It's a love letter to monsters, and to those of us who cherish them. Even if you're not a regular non-fiction reader, you owe it to yourself to read this book. You'll thank me later. --Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author of Ararat and The Pandora Room At times laugh-out-loud funny, at others deeply moving, this engrossing book challenges the reader to look beyond what they think they know to see the secrets those in power have tried to bury. --Alexandria Brown, Librarian and author of Hidden History of Napa Valley The Lady from the Black Lagoon is a stunningly honest, compassionate investigation into the life of a woman who changed the face of horror. Milicent Patrick's story is as heartbreaking as it is relatable, and O'Meara has written her story with empathy, vulnerability, and courage. The direct discussion of what it's like to be a woman in the film industry--to be a woman in any industry--is incredibly refreshing; The Lady from the Black Lagoon is a blast of fresh air. I've never read anything like The Lady from the Black Lagoon, and I hope it's just the beginning. --Sarah Gailey, author of Magic for Liars

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