<< Go back to Page 1


BOB BURNS is a real monster maker! Since the golden years of horror and science-fiction, Bob has seen, done, and dabbled in it all. He's been a screen writer, actor, makeup artist, effects technician, special consultant, author, publisher, and historian. Recall the American International Pictures (AIP) productions of these favorites:  It Conquered the World (1956), The She- Creature (1956), Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957), and Voodoo Woman (1957)? How about It - the Terror From Beyond Space (1958) and The Beast with 1,000,000 Eyes (1955)? If you ventured to guess that Bob had his fingers in these frights, you'd be right.

Around 1954, Bob and his wife, Kathy, happened to meet a couple seated next to them at a science fiction club meeting (Ray Bradbury was the featured speaker that evening). Their new friends turned out to be Paul Blaisdell and wife, Jackie. If you recognize the aforementioned film titles, you know Blaisdell as the creative genius behind them - with plenty of help from Bob and Kathy. The two couples would often collaborate to create creatures and execute on-screen effects, squeezing every drop out of the miniscule budgets afforded  them. And while Paul would often tap Bob for assistance in fabricating creature masks and body suits, Kathy and Jackie would busily cook latex veins, scales, and other creature parts in the kitchen oven. It wasn't your typical evening of Canasta, but it sure sounded like great fun.


Bob Burns, Paul Blaisdell, and an invasion 
in the making...


Paul Blaisdell and "Beulah" of 
It Conquered the World


Jackie Blaisdell and Bob Burns with the
Vodoo Woman


Bob and Kathy Burns with the
She-Creature

Upon the success of The She- Creature, the Blaisdells were summoned to churn out their next screen scare (that would be Saucer Men) while Bob ventured into the CBS studios, appearing as the She-Creature itself in two TV show appearances. See - Bob is a monster, and he was loving it!

With acting and performing in his blood, Bob ventured into the 1960s and discovered the true love of his life (second in line to Kathy, of course) - gorillas! During a photo shoot, modeling Don Post monster masks and costumes (what else?), Bob fell fast in love with the gorilla mask - he's been bananas for the beast ever since. Bob had the Don Post studios create a special mask for him while Kathy helped develop a gorilla costume. Head to toe, he became a growling creature he called "Kogar." In costume, Bob introduced America to Kogar through appearances on The Mickey Rooney Show, I Love Lucy, My Three Sons, and Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. In his costumed comfort zone, Bob was Kogar. Kogar was Bob. The two have been inseparable ever since.


Kogar menaces Carolyn Brandt in Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Monsters (1965)


Advance to the mid-1970s and Bob is still "ape-ing" around (and why shouldn't he?), now having landed a starring role in television's The Ghost Busters (1975). Yes, long before there was Spengler, Stantz, and Venkman, there was the original ghostbusting trio of Kong, Spenser, and Tracy. And if you guessed Bob played the role of 'Kong,' guess again - the gorilla was 'Tracy.' 

Co-starring alongside Forrest Tucker (as Kong) and Larry Storch (as Spenser), Bob was "going gorilla" yet with a softer touch. Tracy was part of a ghost hunting trio, this time with the pensive propeller beanie atop his head. He's a gorilla, of course, but wishes he was a human. Unable to actually speak, Tracy gets his point across using his large simian brain, complete with a well-evolved sense of sarcasm and slapstick, to boot. Clever ape.

"We're the Ghost Busters. I'm Spenser, he's Tracy."

"I'm Kong."

"We're the Ghost Busters. We're clever, courageous, and strong!"





Throughout his storied career, Bob has been a veritable "sponge" of all that went on around him. Having rubbed elbows with some of the greatest-of-the-greats of Tinseltown, Bob maintains an encyclopedic knowledge of what happened, who it happened to, and who done it. For his vast experience and ability to accurately and entertainingly recount every moment, Bob has been sought out as creative consultant and acclaimed historian. The advent of DVD and studios' preparation of special edition volumes, Bob has lent himself freely to "tell it as it was" - never in torrid tabloid fashion, just the fun and informative facts.

If you're curious for a sample of what Bob brings to the table, look no further than Universal's 2004 release of Creature from the Black Lagoon - The Legacy Collection. If you're one who appreciates entertaining and informative audio commentaries, Bob is on hand to annotate Revenge of the Creature (alongside star Lori Nelson) and The Creature Walks Among Us. (Read the DVD review here.)

"...these two commentaries are the best I've heard, ever."  - Judge D. Prince at DVDVerdict.com

 

Amid the monster making and monkey business, Bob always had a keen eye and quick hands to secure and save original artifacts, props, and other movie memorabilia. Sure, he collected the usual film posters, lobby cards, and such but then he augmented that with actual film-used materials. To Bob's dismay, most such items were "ash-canned," especially for low-budget productions. But Bob had saved many such castoffs, creating an impressive if not overwhelming collection of authentic items that are now considered priceless. 

 


<< The mask from the
     original mold for 
      It - The Terror From
      Beyond Space. 

 

 

The original mask >>
  from Invasion of      
   the Saucer Men.      

Over the years, filmmakers recognized Bob as a trusted curator and historian, actively seeking him out to watch over their creepy creations. Who seeks out Bob for this service? How about James Cameron (Aliens), John Landis (An American Werewolf in London), Chris Walas (The Fly - 1986), and Frank Marshall (Arachnophobia). 

The Aliens Queen - 
careful, she bites. 
(She really does!)
Curing Arachnophobia -
the hard way...
Rick Baker's werewolf -
An American Werewolf 
in London

Bob, in his typical humble fashion, never considers himself as "owner" of these rare items - he's just watching over them for the time being. And, when he entertains visitors, he's as generous as he is genial in sharing stories behind each and every relic. The film industry maintains a warm regard for Bob, surely in response of his "golden age" respect and reverence. Occasionally, they'll even chide him with a bit of playfulness, to which Bob is usually laughing loudest. 

Undeniably, Bob is about as genuine as they come...for a monster, that is.

 

On the left, effects artist Chris Walas canonizes Bob, the keeper of Horrorwood history. 
On the right, Bob denies the silly assertion that he has "magna grab" powers. 

 

  

Bob Burns - creator of the original "man cave." Uncredited, until now.




Bob Burns, still watching over the original King Kong
armature of 1933 - and it couldn't be in better hands.



ABOUT BOB BURNS:
What more can be said about this affable and approachable gentleman? For all that he has done, for all whom he has known, he and lovely wife Kathy are always ready to welcome new friends into their fold. 

I had interviewed Bob in 2000 for an article about collecting movie props - and he immediately invited me to pay him a visit.

Upon the release of Monster Scenes, Bob had messaged his love and appreciation of the revived kits.  

Bob continues to be a refreshing face among "monster kids," maintains a web site, and is always ready to play with others who share his passion. 

 

CAN'T GET ENOUGH BOB?

Who could tire of Bob's amazing story? If you're curious to delve deeper into his basement from beyond, get yourself a copy of It Came from Bob's Basement

You'll discover 144 pages of high-quality photos, fully detailed and documented by Bob himself. 

Act now to get an autographed copy, signed by Bob and co-author John Michlig.

 Click here to order It Came from Bob's Basement today!

 

2010 Dencomm.  No content may be reprinted or repurposed, in whole or in part, without express written permission.
Photographs Bob Burns. All rights reserved. Used with permission.