|No, Bigfoot is NOT Dead|
After Bigfoot enthusiast Ray L. Wallace died on November 26, 2002, his family revealed that he had been the perpetrator of an elaborate hoax. Some mainstream newspapers that covered the admission went so far as to say that Wallace "created" the Bigfoot myth in 1958. Newspapers across the country carried the story of the Wallace family revelation and declared that now Bigfoot was dead.
While Wallace's pranks almost certainly popularized Bigfoot in popular culture in the late '50s and beyond, to say that he invented the idea of an unknown primate living in the wilds of the American and Canadian northwest is ridiculous and wrong. And to say that the revelation of a hoax - even on the grand scale of Wallace's - completely debunks the Bigfoot phenomena is equally preposterous.
Ray Wallace did not create Bigfoot, and the fact that he staged many elaborate hoaxes does not wipe away the evidence that exists or the many thousands of eyewitness accounts of the creature.
The truth is, many Bigfoot researchers knew Wallace as a prankster and have long suspected that he was behind some of the footprints, sightings and photographs that have appeared over the years. It is only now that his family has confirmed the hoaxes.
Wooden Feet and Ape Suits
The Wallace hoaxes began in August, 1958 when early one morning he strapped on a pair of large wooden feet he had asked a friend to carve and stomped around one of his construction sites in Northern California. An astonished bulldozer operator was fooled by the prints and reported his findings to the local newspaper. The Humboldt Times ran a front-page story about the large footprints and may have even coined the term "Bigfoot" in the article.
But where did Wallace get the idea for generating such a hoax? He didn't create it out of thin air. And why was it assumed that the owner of the big feet was some kind of man-ape and not just some giant man? The answer, of course, is that large, hairy, upright-walking, ape-like creatures had been seen in that part of the country for generations. The newspaper may have dreamed up the word "Bigfoot," but not the notion of the creature itself. Before "Bigfoot" became a popular name for the beast, it was known as the Sasquatch, a Native American word meaning "crazy man of the forest." (The word is a derivation from the language of the Coast Salish Indians.) Sasquatch had been known to Native Americans for hundreds of years.
Wallace didn't stop with just the fake footprints. According to his family, Wallace had his wife and others dress up in an ape suit at various times and pose for photographs. Some believe it may have been one of Wallace's costumed accomplices in the famous 1967 Patterson film. Although Wallace has been quoted as saying that he told Patterson where he might be successful catching Bigfoot on film (near Bluff Creek, Calif.) and said he knew that the creature in the Patterson film was not real, he denied having anything to do with that hoax, but knew who was in the suit. (In 1996, a man name Harry Kemball claimed he was present when Patterson concocted his film hoax, putting an extra-tall friend in a gorilla suit.)
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