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Apes Trivia

Here's some interesting tidbits that you may or may not know:


  • The inspiration for Planet of the Apes was the novel by Pierre Boulie, "La Plančte des Singes," or "Monkey Planet." Boulle considered the novel one of his lesser works, with no potential for a motion picture adaptation.


  • Producer Arthur P. Jacobs spent three years developing and pitching his idea of Planet of the Apes to the studios before Richard Zanuck finally agreed to produce the film at 20th Century Fox.


  • Arthur P. Jacobs was originally a publicist before becoming a producer. His most famous client was Marilyn Monroe. Before Planet of the Apes, he also produced Dr. Dolittle, the musical fantasy starring Rex Harrison.


  • Oscar-winning make-up artist John Chambers worked around the clock to create the elaborate "Ape" make-up for Planet of the Apes. Extras had to be hired just to sit in for the make-up tests.


  • It took up to 80 make-up artists, hair stylists, and wardrobe personnel for scenes involving as many as 200 apes for Planet of the Apes. The number of craftspeople utilized resulted in other films throughout Hollywood being delayed -- due to the unavailability of qualified make-up artists.


  • The make-up process for Planet of the Apes, which originally took up to six hours, was streamlined to three hours. Actors resided in refrigerated trailers to preserve the make-up between shots. The ape cast members were also given cigarette holders so that they could smoke while in make-up, had to eat in front of mirror, and drink soft foods (like applesauce) and milk shakes through a straw.


  • The art department for Planet of the Apes painstakingly designed the physical setting of the ape culture with simian architecture, wardrobe and utensils. A rifle was designed specifically to fit in an apes oversized paw.


  • The actors portraying three distinct species in Planet of the Apes -- gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans -- were so affected by the make-up that when not shooting, the actors would self-segregate within their simian groups. In fact, Kim Hunter (Zira) and Maurice Evans (Dr. Zaius) were good friends, but rarely saw each other because they were of different "species."


  • Filmed, but deleted from the final cut of Planet of the Apes, was a sequence revealing that Nova was pregnant (see the Lost Apes page for the script excerpt and photo).


  • Heston's character, "Taylor," was originally named "Thomas."


  • Charlton Heston worked for free on Beneath. He was against doing the sequel for artistic reasons, but was indebted to studio head Richard Zanuck for making the first film, which was considered a huge risk. Heston agreed to do the sequel if he could be killed off in the first scene (which was later expanded to disappearing in the beginning and dying at the end). He let Zanuck donate money to his son's school in lieu of payment.


  • Charlton Heston got a terrible cold in the middle of production on Apes that reduced his voice to a raspy croak. The following day he had one line of dialogue: "Take your stinkin' paws off me you damn dirty ape!" One of the most famous lines from the film, it is the first thing Taylor says after recovering from a wound to his throat, and just the voice that Heston needed for the scene.


  • Linda Harrison (Nova) did very little acting after Beneath. She retired from acting to raise her children with Richard Zanuck. She returned briefly in the mid-80s to do Cocoon and Cocoon: The Return (playing the young boy's mother). So what prompted her brief comeback? Both films were produced by her then-ex-husband, Richard Zanuck.


  • Linda Harrison was Miss Maryland, 1965.


  • Linda Harrison appeared in Airport 1975 billed as "Augusta Summerland."


  • Linda Harrison was the first choice to play Chief Brody's wife in Jaws. Harrison was married to Richard Zanuck at the time, one of the film's producers (he left Fox and became an independent producer with partner David Brown). Zanuck all but promised her the role. Steven Spielberg, without knowing what Zanuck had planned, was taking an exercise class with Lorraine Gary and practically promised her the role. Lorraine Gary was also married to Universal honcho Sidney Sheinberg, who had also given Spielberg his first job. Gary ended up with the part.


  • In order to convince the PTB at Fox that the apes could be made believable and not laughed off the screen, producer Arthur P. Jacobs, Charlton Heston, and director Franklin J. Schaffner filmed a five-minute make-up test at the Fox Ranch, which consisted of a scene between Heston as the astronaut Taylor and Edward G. Robinson as the talking ape of science, Dr. Zaius, with dialogue by Rod Serling, who had written the screenplay's first draft. Linda Harrison played Zira and James Brolin played Cornelius. The test film can be seen in the new documentary, Behind the Planet of the Apes.


  • Edward G. Robinson was the original choice to play Dr. Zaius, and was all set to take the role until he did the test scene. Robinson had a weak heart and one trip to the make-up chair was all it took to convince him that he wasn't up to the task of going through it every day for the film.


  • Roddy McDowall and Natalie Trundy are tied with appearances in four Apes films each. Had McDowall played Cornelius in Beneath, he would have appeared in all five films (he was replaced with English actor David Watson due to a prior commitment). So who is Natalie Trundy (who appeared as a mutant in Beneath, a human in Escape, and an ape in Conquest and Battle)? She was married to the late Arthur P. Jacobs, producer of the Apes saga.


  • Technically, Roddy McDowall actually does appear in all five films. Even though he was replaced in Beneath, he does appear in the pre-title sequence lifted from the ending of Planet.


  • There was one person who actually did appear in all five Apes films -- Hollywood columnist James Bacon. Bacon did bits as a gorilla in four films, and appeared as a general in the opening scenes of Escape. Bacon goes on about this quite a bit in his autobiography. Apes Producer Arthur P. Jacobs liked to give Bacon and fellow columnist Army Archerd bit parts in his movies for P.R. purposes. (Thanks to Doublex for this and the preceding bit of trivia).


  • Burt Reynolds was approached to play the role of "Brent" in Beneath, which ultimately went to popular television actor James Franciscus. Franciscus felt the role was too wimpy, and reasoned that was why Reynolds turned it down, so he and a friend rewrote the part to make him more "manly." Though he was chastized for this action, many of his changes made it into the final script. Franciscus was considered to be a "miniature Charlton Heston."


  • The "office complex" that was used as the location for Conquest was Century City, nestled between Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. Most of it still looks the same. (Thanks to Vidmkt for this piece of trivia.)


  • The riot scenes in Conquest were modeled after the 1965 Watts riots. Screenwriter Paul Dehn and director Lee Thompson utilized the flexibility of the science-fiction genre as a means to portray and comment on current social issues.


  • Originally, Caesar's (Roddy McDowall) final victory speech in Conquest was a militant call for revolution, but responding to audience test reactions, the speech was changed to end the film on a more hopeful note. If you watch the film closely, you'll notice that the film cuts back and forth between close-ups of Caesar, Lisa, and the others during the added dialogue.


  • Legendary director, producer, and actor John Huston has a small role in Battle as the "Ape lawgiver" in the prologue and epilogue.


  • Film director John Landis appears in Battle. This was back before he became a director and worked sporadically as a part-time actor and stuntman. He is listed in the credits as "Jake's Friend."


  • The Planet of the Apes television series aired in 1974. Because the show's main audience was children, and children didn't attract advertisers, the program was cancelled after one season. Hard to believe when every Saturday morning cartoon today is used to sell a line of toys.


  • A theatrical re-release of all five films took place in 1974. 20th Century Fox did an extensive marketing and merchandising campaign that encompassed 60 companies and over 300 items, including lunchboxes, posters, games, comic books, masks and more. This was a first of its kind, an extraordinary merchandising event that paved the way for the mass merchandising blitzes that consumers have grown to expect with every big budget film.


  • NBC premiered a half-hour animated television series entitled Return to the Planet of the Apes in 1975, which lasted one year.


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