According to the Honolulu Advertiser, the actor had been suffering from heart and breathing problems over the past few months.
For more on Chapman’s life and career, see FilmBuffOnLine’s In Remembrance piece here.
I first saw Chapman in The Creature as a kid at a birthday party for another kid in the neighborhood. His dad had gotten an 8mm reel of highlights from the film and screened it at the party, projecting it in the backyard onto a bedsheet. The reel was in anaglyph 3D and we kids loved seeing the Gill-man swimming right off the sheet into the summer night at us.
When I met Chapman 25 years later at a Chiller Theater show in New Jersey, I recounted the story to him and he laughed, quickly pointing out that the swimming scenes for the Gill-man were all handled by former Olympian Ricou Browning. We did talk for a few minutes about his land-based work in the costume for the film before I made way for other fans who wanted to chat with the actor. But in the brief moment, Chapman came off as a fun loving guy who acted like a goodwill ambassador on behalf of the Gill-man to fans everywhere. A favorite on the convention circuit for his easy-going attitude, he will be missed.