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Chimpanzees in Entertainment

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Battlestar Galactica

1978
Battlestar Galactica

In this television series, which lasted only one season, a chimpanzee named Evolution "played" the part of a daggit, or Galactican dog, named Muffit II. For this role, "Evie" had to wear a robot-like costume and mask, which was placed on her by her trainer Boone Narr. Prior to Battlestar Galactica, she had been in five TV commercials and two motion pictures.


Ark II

1976
Ark II

Ark II was a live-action science fiction series aimed at children that aired on CBS in 1976.  Only 15 episodes were produced, but these episodes were re-run by CBS for several years.

The show starred Terry Lester as a space pilot searching for the remnants of humanity.  Also along for the voyages was Adam, a chimpanzee capable of speech (voice provided by Lou Scheimer).


Me and the Chimp

1972
Me and the Chimp

Me and the Chimp was a short-lived tv show considered by many as among the worst programs ever produced.  It starred Ted Bessell as a dentist who lived with his wife, two children and a chimpanzee named Buttons, a washout from the space program.

Reportedly, Bessell refused to participate when the title was first given as "The Chimp and I."


Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp

1970
Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp

Lancelot Link was an American television show that originally aired on ABC from September 12, 1970 to September 2, 1972. The Saturday morning series featured a cast of chimpanzee "actors" given apparent speaking roles by overdubbing with human voices.

A total of 17 episodes aired, and an extensive merchandising effort included clothing, toys, and a full-length music recording.

Each episode was rerun a single time on the Nickelodeon network during the mid-1980's and was shown on TV Land Network for a brief time.


Daktari

1966
Daktari

Daktari (Swahili for "doctor") was an children's television program which aired on CBS from 1966 to 1969.  It starred Marshall Thompson as Dr. Marsh Tracy, a veterinarian practicing in East Africa.

The show followed the work of Dr. Tracy, who frequently protected animals from poachers and local officials. Tracy kept many pets including a cross-eyed lion named Clarence and a chimpanzee named Judy.

In real life, Judy was owned by Ralph Helfer, the creator of Africa U.S.A., an animal behavioral center in Southern California. Trained by Frank Lamping, Judy reportedly responded to 75 hand signals and was potty trained to use a real toilet.


The Addams Family

Apr 9, 1965
The Addams Family

In the first season of this long-running television program, an episode entitled "My Son, the Chimp" featured a young chimpanzee "actor."


The Hathaways

1961
The Hathaways

This ABC program told the story of real estate agent Walter Hathaway (Jack Weston) and his wife Elinore (Peggy Cass), a theatrical agent who booked a group of the frisky chimpanzees (The Marquis Chimps: Charlie, Enoch and Cindy) on a variety of show business gigs. In between their engagements, the chimpanzees lived in the Hathaway's home.

In real life, the chimpanzees were owned and trained by Gene Detroy.  They made guest-star appearances on a series of variety shows including the Jack Benny Hour, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Hollywood Palace and the Kraft Music Hall.  They also starred in advertisements for Red Rose Tea.


The Kokomo Jr. Show

1955
The Kokomo Jr. Show

Kokomo Jr., a chimpanzee who lived in a New York City apartment with owner Nick Carrado and his family, began appearing on television in the 1950s. For over thirty years, Kokomo made appearances on many hit shows, including "The Today Show", "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" and "The Candid Camera Show". Also, during his years in TV entertainment, he starred in "The Kokomo Jr. Show". In the show, Kokomo Jr. drives cars, cooks, reads the paper, saves lives, builds, cleans and is said to be "human too". He continued to appear on television until his retirement from entertainment in 1983, when he was moved to North Carolina with the Carrado family.