When amateur filmmakers - sporting Super-8 cameras - set out to document Bigfoot sightings in Washington State in the 1960s, one researcher, Tarah DeLuge, had a love-at-first-sighting encounter with the cryptid creature. She strayed from the path on Wilde Ridge long enough to bump in to the beast. Their eyes locked, followed by their arms... and then a strange exchange ensued. Nine months later, Lillouette was born. She bore her mother's porcelain-doll face and her father's plush-toy fur. While kept closely guarded from the press - and public - the girl did pose for the famous portraitist, Rolando Choy, at his Fairmont Heights studio in 1972. Over three days, she sat - all doe-eyed - while Mr. Choy painted his masterpiece, "Little Furry One". Tarah DeLuge regretted allowing a mass-produced reproduction to be sold shortly after the painting's completion. (The print was the second-biggest selling reproduction after the Mona Lisa.) Mother and daughter lived in relative seclusion until Tarah's death, from cancer, in 1981. Lillouette moved to Colorado in the early 1980s. She died tragically in an electrical fire in 1988. In 2009, "Little Furry One" sold at auction for $2.5 million, a record price for a Rolando Choy painting.
© BILL BLAIR 2012