Sunday, April 13, 2008

Remembering Benny

Today we held a "memorial" party to celebrate the life of our dear friend, Ben Chapman. Dozens of Benny's friends gathered at the home of Daniel and Kelly Roebuck, where we remembered Benny in a way that would have pleased him - laughing and enjoying life. His wife Merilee and sons Ben III and Grant were there, as well as his Creature From The Black Lagoon co-star Julie Adams, and the daughter and granddaughter of his other co-star Richard Denning. Also in attendance were Swamp Thing Dick Durock and his wife Jane, Johnny "The Arizona Gillman" Gilbert, Taylor White, directors John Fasano and Ed Plumb, author David J. Schow, makeup artist John Goodwin, producer Chuck Williams, Rondo "Monster Kid Of The Year" Mike Schlesinger and many, many others.
Benny touched so many people's lives in such a positive way. As Bob and Kathy Burns recently said, he could light up a room just by entering it. Shortly after his passing, I suggested that Benny be honored with a Rondo "Hall Of Fame" Award, for keeping the memory of classic monsters alive by his enthusiasm, his optimism, his humor and his devotion to his fans. Thankfully, the Rondo board agreed. Benny made his mark on this world in a remarkable way. He was loved by all, and I am a better person than I was before I met him.

As David Schow said to me at the end of the evening, it now falls to us to carry Benny's torch forward, and promote the same qualities to our own fans...and that is a task I am proud and honored to deliver.
I love you, Benjamin Franklin Chapman, Jr. Thank you for everything.

Me and Dee Denning, daughter of Evelyn Ankers and Richard Denning.

Screenwriters John Fasano and David J. Schow compare Hollywood war stories.

Sam Park, John Goodwin, Mike Schlesinger and Johnny Gilbert.

Host Daniel Roebuck, unaware that Evil Wilhelm lurks just behind him...

Dee Denning, her daughter Summer and Julie Adams.

Taylor White, who created the "Creature Features" shop in Burbank and brought us all together, with Johnny "The Arizona Gillman" Gilbert, surrounded by memories of Benny.

Julie and Merilee, wishing they could enjoy their cheesecake without cameras!


Bill said...

Thanks, Frank, for letting those of us who could not attend be a small part of the memorial. We all hope his big shoes can be filled by someone who is able to keep his love of the Gillman alive for generations to come.
Bill Schafer

Paul said...

I would love to knkow how I could get in touch with Dee Denning?

Paul said...

I would love to know how I could get in contact with Dee Denning?