The Lady From the Black Lagoon by Mallery O’Meara

The Lady From the Black Lagoon by Mallery O’Meara

Available now.

Full Disclosure:  I had no idea who Milicent Patrick was when I picked up this book.  I had heard amazing things about the author, about her writing, how this book was so amazing and everyone should read it-but never about the subject of whom it was written.  

Milicent Patrick is a badass.  

Milicent Patrick is the incredibly talented designer and artist who created the iconic costume for the iconic monster in The Creature from the Black Lagoon.  She led a truly interesting life. Daughter to one of the designers of Hearst Castle, Milicent was surrounded by lavish luxury and excess but lived a life of chastity and modesty.  Forbidden from dating or having male friends, Milicent grew up with her behavior tightly controlled by her parents. When she left her family to make her way as an animator in Hollywood, she was disowned by her family and cut off from her connections to her previous life.  

Honing her skills at Disney working as an animator, Milicent went on to have a successful career-and what would have been an extremely successful one if a string of jealous men hadn’t gotten in her way.  Dealing with daily misogyny and getting more attention for her figure than her talent, Milicent struggled to be taken seriously even as her work proved to be exceptional on all levels.

The Lady From the Black Lagoon is part investigative journalism, part biography, and largely a love letter to an incredibly talented woman who would spark the creative spirit in generations of young women.  Reading through this story, Mallory O’Meara shows us how difficult it is to research women from the past who have had their work either stolen from them by men, or who never received credit for their work.  We get to follow O’Meara’s journey up and down California as she tirelessly tracks down any scrap of information on Patrick she can. And let me tell you, Milicent Patrick and her ever changing names was not helpful in the least!  

Reading this book felt far more like sitting with a best friend and talking over drinks.  O’Meara writes with an engaging conversational tone and the footnotes are a must read.

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