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Chimpanzees in Entertainment

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The Fifth Monkey

1990
The Fifth Monkey

The Fifth Monkey is one of the oldest entries in Sir Ben Kingsley's filmography that features him as a poor rainforest tribesman, Cunda, who traipses through the jungle trying to save enough money to marry a local widow. Through his journey he meets four chimpanzees who he believes are a supernatural gift. At first he tries to get rid of them but as the film progesses he finds himself growing increasingly fond of them.


Project X

1987
Project X

Project X is a 1987 American comedy-science fiction-thriller film produced by Walter F. Parkes and Lawrence Lasker, directed by Jonathan Kaplan and starring Matthew Broderick, Helen Hunt, William Sadler and Stephen Lang.  The film makes a political commentary on the ethics of animal research. Ironically, the producers of the movie were themselves accused of animal cruelty during the filming by TV personality Bob Barker and the United Activists for Animal Rights.  Government investigators found numerous animal cruelty violations but the American Humane Society (AHA) defended the trainers and sued Barker, whose insurance company later settled with AHA.

A chimp named Willie played Virgil. Both Willie and another chimp used in the film, Harry, were born at Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research. They were supposed to go back to the Foundation upon completion of the film. However, after some controversy and the death of another chimp during production, Willie and Harry were retired to a chimp sanctuary, Primarily Primates. Quigley, a fourth chimp, never used on camera, was diagnosed with a rare disease while filming and died partway through production.


Pee Wee's Big Adventure

1985
Pee Wee's Big Adventure

In this 1985 comedy, Pee Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) embarks on his first feature film adventure with his beloved bicycle.

In the fllm's climatic scene, Pee Wee rescues dozens of animals from a pet store with the assistance of a young chimpanzee that is freed from a small cage in the store.

The chimpanzee actor was provided by "Animal Actors of Hollywood."


Phenomena (Creepers)

1985
Phenomena (Creepers)

In this 1985 supernatural thriller starring Jennifer Connelly, a telepathic teenager befriends a paralyzed Scotish entomologist and his pet chimpanzee Tonga.  Together they work to find a serial killer.

Connelly said in an interview that she was bitten by the chimp in this film. Apparently, during one scene the chimp kept turning around and the director asked Connelly to place her hand on the animal to stop her from turning. But when she attempted to do so, the chimp became enraged and bit her, and then became very hostile toward Connelly for the rest of the film.

The film was originally titled "Phenomena" but was changed to "Creepers" for an American audience.  The credits list Daniel Berquiny as the owner of the chimpanzee "actor."


The Barefoot Executive

1971
The Barefoot Executive

A young Kurt Russell stars as Steven Post, an ambitious mailroom clerk  who hopes to move up the coporate ladder at a second-rate TV network. He discovers that his girlfriend's pet chimpanzee has the ability to pick a hit show every time which completely changes his career.


Doctor Dolittle

1967
Doctor Dolittle

In this 1967 film starring Rex Harrison, Dr. Dolittle is a world-renowned veterinarian who speaks a wide array of animal languages. He sets off from his home in Puddleby-on-the-Marsh, England, in search of the Great Pink Sea Snail.

The film credits Roy Kabat at Jungleland, Thousand Oaks, CA.  The book "Pictures at a Revolution" reports that the trainer took six months to train the chimpanzee "Chee-Chee" ("and his three stand-ins") to cook bacon and eggs in a frying pan.


Monkeys, Go Home!

1966
Monkeys, Go Home!

In this Disney production, farmer Hank Dussard (played by Dean Jones) inherits an olive plantation in a small French village after his uncle passes away. Hoping to cut expenses, Hank buys four chimpanzees, and teaches them how to pick olives. Hank has troubles with his new work force when he discovers that his chimpanzees are all female, and the arrival of a male chimpanzee takes their minds off the olives. Monkeys, Go Home! features Maurice Chevalier in his final screen role.


The Monkey's Uncle

1965
The Monkey's Uncle

Hapless Merlin, along with his "nephew" chimpanzee, Stanley, reluctantly agrees to prevent the school's football mascot from disappearing into oblivion.  Starring Tommy Kirk and Annette Funicello, the film features a young chimpanzee actor as well as the Beach Boys.  The film was produced by the Walt Disney Company.


Toby Tyler

1960
Toby Tyler

Toby Tyler is a film released on January 21, 1960 by the Walt Disney Company, based on the 1880 children's book Toby Tyler.

Angered at stern Uncle Daniel, Toby Tyler runs away from his foster home to join the circus, where he soon befriends Mr. Stubbs, the frisky chimpanzee.


Bonzo Goes to College

1952
Bonzo Goes to College

In this sequel to the 1951 film "Bedtime for Bonzo", former laboratory chimpanzee, Bonzo, suddenly literate, runs away from a carnival sideshow. He finds his way to the college town of Pawlton and is adopted by the granddaughter (Maureen O'Sullivan) of the school's football coach (Edmund Gwen) who is in desperate need of good players.