The Bigfoot Craze Of The 1970s: The Monster As Elusive Celebrity

By Rebeka Knott
Left: Dr. Grover Krantz, physical anthropologist at Washington State University, displays casts of footprints he believed were made by a Sasquatch in 1974. Right: A frame from the Patterson-Gimlin film. Source: Bettmann/contributor via Getty; IMDB

We all know "Bigfoot," or Sasquatch -- a giant hairy creature that resembles an ape but (maybe) walks like a man. This supposed creature has been said to exist, in one form or another, for hundreds of years, and in many different cultures all over the world. But in the United States, particularly in the '70s, belief in Bigfoot soared. Suddenly, a creature most people dismissed as a legend or a cryptid, was discussed in public as if it were real. And the public was gripped by a very real fear.

The idea of a giant man-ape in line with the Bigfoot story became popular in the U.S. in the early 1900s. By the time the 1960s was coming to an end, movies and documentaries began surfacing about Bigfoot. At the time, fact-checking and research was much harder to do than it is today -- news stories would be in the paper one day, and then the paper would be tossed in the trash. To put together a larger picture, and to check details over time, was a real skill practiced by journalists and academics, working with reams of microfiche and hard copies of old periodicals in dusty library archives. Rumors and hearsay, especially when combined with fear and hysteria, spread fast.