Mr. Smith was a talking orangutan with an IQ of 256 that worked as a political advisor in Washington, D.C. Only a small number of people knew Mr. Smith's secret, so while Mr. Smith was trying to solve any number of political problems, his friends were trying to keep his profile low. Written by
Marty McKee <email@example.com>
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The orangutan playing Mr. Smith was extremely well behaved. Two trainers (one older and one younger, brothers) worked with the big monkey who was housed in Tarzana. The (handsome, like a young leading man riding with his pretty date) younger brother (trainer) would drive the orangutan into Paramount Studios, every day, in his yellow corvette. The passenger window was lowered two inches, so that the orangutan could hang his right arm and fingers on the open door glass. He was quite a sight arriving to the stage every morning. The trainer would open the passenger door, taking the hand of the orangutan, to lead him to his own trailer dressing room. Usually, the orangutan would stand in the middle of the studio street to relieve himself, with a river running the middle of the studio street flowing towards the drain. The dressing room trailer had the rear bedroom section gutted, skinned with material which could be washed down and cleaned. The door frame had a cell metal bar door which could be secured when he was in his "bed room". The orangutan's motor home dressing room had the normal living room-kitchen-banquet arrangement. The orangutan knew his way around the inside of the motor home. He also knew that the freezer compartment held ice cream and Popsicle bars as his reward. The trainer would nod to him, without a word, and the orangutan knew that was his signal to retrieve a Popsicle. He also had bananas in the refrigerator, which required a different cue from the trainer for his retrieval. An astounding communication system between the animal and the trainer. On set, the trainer was adept at communicating with the orangutan with what he was expected to perform. The film crew and cast were served their meal breaks on an adjacent stage. When this break was called by the assistant director, the cast leads would each take one of his hands, walking towards the exit, leading to the adjacent stage break area. The orangutan was very comfortable walking with his cast mates to dinner. Once seated at the table, the trainer would serve him his dinner which consisted of a chicken leg. That piece of chicken, he would slip into his mouth with his fingers holding onto the tip end! Out, he would remove the cleanest chicken leg bone with nothing left on the leg bone. Clean as a whistle! Interestingly, the costumed orangutan would stand in his position for camera, and gradually relax, slumping in his posture. When camera was ready to roll, the trainer would reach in and tap the orangutan under his chin, the orangutan would straighten and raise his posture stance upright. After the scene was finished, the orangutan knew he could relax and drop his pose! He was a performer! See more
Referenced in Island of the Dead