That’s right, a set dresser. Not a monster-man who was taken from the woods, not a dream man taken into reality. An ordinary man who worked as a prop master and set decorator on several films including David Lynch’s Dune, Wild at Heart and the TV series Twin Peaks.
His name was Frank Silva, and he was a Native American set dresser who had a degree in lighting design from San Francisco State University. According to David Lynch on the 2007 Gold Edition DVD release of Twin Peaks, Lynch was upstairs in the Laura Palmer’s house, near Silva as he worked, and suddenly realized that Silva might have a place in the show. He asked Silva if he was an actor, and Silva said that he was. Later, Lynch accidentally caught him on camera when his reflection appeared in a mirror, and thus was born the character of Killer Bob, a dark spirit who haunts Laura.
At the time, when the scene in which Laura’s mother, Sarah, experiences a terrifying vision was being filmed; the script did not indicate what Mrs. Palmer had seen. Lynch was pleased with how the scene turned out, but a crew member informed him that it would have to be re-shot because a mirror in the scene had inadvertently picked up Silva’s reflection. Lynch considered this a “happy accident,” and decided that Silva’s unnamed character would be revealed as Laura’s true killer.
So, Bob made his first appearance in the pilot episode, “Northwest Passage,” where he makes a brief cameo in Sarah Palmer’s vision. Bob is a demonic entity from the “Black Lodge,” a realm of pure evil which exists on an alternate plane of reality. While possessing humans, he commits horrible crimes to elicit pain, fear, and suffering from those around him.
Frank Silva died on 13 September 1995, aged 44, from complications of AIDS.