Ron Harper, ‘Land Of The Lost’ and ‘Planet Of The Apes’ actor, dies aged 91


Ron Harper, best known for starring in Planet Of The Apes, has died aged 91.

The actor died last Thursday of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles, according to his daughter, Nicole Longeuay (via The Hollywood Reporter).

The Pennsylvania-born actor was known for his multiple appearances in soap operas, including Where The Heart Is and Love Of Life.

Harper’s acting career typically involved short-lived television series, which included the 30-episode police drama, 87th Precinct, and just 12 episodes of sitcom The Jean Arthur Show.

In 1974, he landed the role of Colonel Alan Virdon on the sci-fi series Planet Of The Apes, which was based on the successful movie franchise that started in 1968, originally based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Pierre Boulle.

(L-R) James Naughton, Roddy McDowall and Ron Harper in ‘Planet Of The Apes’ c. 1974. CREDIT: Getty/Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Harper played an astronaut who had been operating a spaceship which had crashed into an unknown planet, which is ultimately revealed to be inhabited and dominated by intelligent apes.

The series was cut after 14 episodes due to poor ratings performance and a budget of around $250,000 (£197,685) per episode.

He then joined children’s adventure series Land Of The Lost in 1976 for its third and final season, starring as Uncle Jack Marshall.

Speaking on the series in 2005, Harper said: “The stories were very good. Each generation of children as they come up and are exposed to it like those stories and remember them, pass them right on. I have about three tapes, and I’ve been showing them to my daughter since she was 5. And she still, of all my series, loves Land Of The Lost best.”

In his early life, Harper had earned a scholarship to Princeton University, and a subsequent fellowship to Harvard Law School, but followed his desire to be an actor.

He served in the US Navy before landing a job in the 1959 Broadway production of Sweet Bird Of Youth, as Paul Newman’s understudy.

Harper’s film credits included the 2001 war drama Pearl Harbor, which starred Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale and Alec Baldwin among others, 2005’s sci-fi movie Glass Trap, and 1998 buddy comedy The Odd Couple II.


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