aka Sasquatch, Fakenstein, Ol' HoaxyIn 1958, Ray Wallace strapped on a couple of wooden soles carved to resemble giant feet, and tromped around a logging camp in the Six Rivers National Forest. The tracks he left became the first tangible evidence of the giant ape-man which ultimately captured the attention of all manner of world-class nutballs. Ray never admitted his prank; the story only came out in January 2003, when the family revealed it awhile after Ray's funeral.
The Bigfoot thing took off in no time, and soon self-proclaimed cryptozoologists began flocking to Northern California. Copycat hoaxers showed up and started leaving tracks of their own. They were pathetically crude at first, obvious frauds. But they got more realistic over the years.
Then in 1967, Roger Patterson produced the greatest Bigfoot movie of all time, which ultimately became the progenitor of the Blair Witch Project. Patterson's groundbreaking 16mm film established the elements of the genre: woodland setting, spazzy camerawork, complete fraud. If not for the exquisitely ragged cinematography, it would have obviously been a guy in a furry suit. The costume wasn't that great; the handheld shakicam is what sold it.
After the Patterson film went wide, the Bigfoot legend became a permanent fixture of the American psyche. Later it became an international sensation when it was featured in the landmark 1976 television series "In Search Of..." hosted by Leonard Nimoy.
Bigfoot quickly became a commodity. It made a bunch of guest appearances, including some highly-memorable episodes of "The Six Million Dollar Man."