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>
Did You Know?
The TV pilot's set decorator, Lee Poll, purchased all the set furniture used in the permanent Washington D.C.Georgian interiors mansion set. The desk top had to be adapted for all the puppet work required when the star Mr. Smith (the orangutan) was replaced for close-up filming. Other furniture pieces were duplicated, which were replaced when the three puppeteers had to perform with the puppet upper body form. After the series was in the process of filming each show, the art director made a point of measuring the orangutan's hand-to-elbow, elbow-to-shoulder, the orangutan's full body height standing erect, and when the orangutan was relaxed. Measuring the orangutan like a tailor measuring for a suit, the orangutan's reaction was hilarious, with his two trainers standing adjacent the animal allowing the measurements being taken. These measurements became critical in scenes when the orangutan had to stand at a court room railing, or scenes with large pieces of furniture, related with the use of the puppet form replacing the orangutan for close-up filming. The puppet top body shoulder-head unit was filled with fiber tubing which controlled all the facial (mouth and nose) expressions, eye and eye-brow movement, and with a puppeteer hidden below the head-shoulder to maneuver the body movement. Tied with the camera picture was an off camera TV monitor for the puppeteers to view the camera's shot. The camera only photographed the orangutan in long shots. Sadly, the D.P. should have had a second close up camera on the actual orangutan's reactions during filming, because his expressions were priceless! sometimes, better than the puppet's facial expressions! See more
Referenced in Island of the Dead