(November 23, 1930– ): Underwater director, cameraman, actor, and stuntman who worked on both Thunderball and Never Say Never Again. Although he achieved international popularity as the gruesome Gill Man in The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Browning spent most of his professional life behind the underwater cameras.
While directing the Thunderball underwater sequences, Browning began a typical shooting day at 9:00 am. “We needed sunlight,” he recalled. “Then we would rehearse the sequence before we went into the water. Everything on Thunderball was orchestrated underwater with hand signals—no radio communicating like we do today. If we had a problem, we would never correct it underwater. We’d surface, discuss it, and go back down to complete the sequence.”
Most of the time, the underwater team filmed in shallow water—between fifteen and twenty feet. The deepest they went on Thunderball was fifty feet, when they worked around the ditched NATO bomber. The final battle sequence was conducted off Clifton Pier in Nassau, Bahamas, in fifteen to twenty feet of water around an old wrecked US Navy landing craft.
Eighteen years later, Browning began work on Never Say Never Again—a shoot that was bedeviled by bad weather. For the sequence in which Bond (Sean Connery) is chased by sensor-equipped sharks, the crew shot around a wrecked fishing boat that was located only two hundred feet from the carcass of the Thunderball NATO bomber, only the framework of which remained. The crew also shot in the waters of Silver Springs, Florida, where Jordan Klein had constructed the exterior superstructure of the Flying Saucer yacht, through which a new generation of underwater scooters travels.
A native of Fort Pierce, Florida, the multitalented Browning reprised his Gill Man character in two sequels, Revenge of the Creature (1955) and The Creature Walks Among Us (1956). But it was his introduction to Ivan Tors Studios that led Browning into the production of underwater television shows, including the iconic Sea Hunt, The Aquanauts, and Flipper, the last of which Browning cocreated. He would later become president of Tors’s Florida studios.