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The Only Actors Still Alive Today From The Original Planet Of The Apes Film

It's easy to imagine moviegoers in 1968 not knowing what to expect before seeing "Planet of the Apes." In the wrong hands, such a film could have been a goofy B-movie with human-ape interactions. Fortunately, that's far from what was released. 

Based on the 1963 French novel of the same name by Pierre Boulle, the film chronicles astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston), who crash lands on a strange planet inhabited by intelligent apes that treat humans as lower life forms. With its expert blend of thought-provoking social commentary and tightly-paced thrills, "Planet of the Apes" became a sci-fi classic, notably lauded for John Chambers' groundbreaking prosthetics and Jerry Goldsmith's avant-garde musical score. Along with being a box office success and earning two Oscar nominations, the film launched a thriving franchise that includes four sequels, two TV series, a 2001 remake, and an ongoing reboot saga. 

The gravitas of "Planet of the Apes" would be non-existent without the film's committed cast. Had performers such as Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, and Maurice Evans treated the material with a tongue-in-cheek approach, it's safe to assume that the film would have lost much of its dramatic weight. Sadly, a majority of these performers have since passed, with only two of the sci-fi epic's cast members still alive. 

Linda Harrison (Nova)

Even without speaking a word, Linda Harrison's Nova remains a permanent fixture in the minds of sci-fi movie fans. The character is held in captivity alongside George Taylor, soon becoming a companion and love interest for him. She would also appear in the film's 1970 sequel, "Beneath the Planet of the Apes." A child version of the heroine, played by Amiah Miller, has a prominent role in 2017's "War for the Planet of the Apes." 

Following minor roles in productions such as the 1966 "Batman" TV series, Harrison helped with "Planet of the Apes makeup tests. Her relationship with then-boyfriend and 20th Century Fox studio head Richard D. Zanuck helped her earn the role of Nova. After reprising her role in "Beneath the Planet of the Apes," the actor starred in movies such as "Airport 1975," "Cocoon," and "Cocoon: The Return." In 2001, she cameoed alongside Charlton Heston in the "Planet of the Apes" remake directed by Tim Burton. Since then, the 78-year-old performer has mostly stayed out of the spotlight, although her sons Dean and Harrison Zanuck continue to work in the industry as producers. 

Lou Wagner (Lucius)

The only other surviving cast member from "Planet of the Apes" is actor Lou Wagner, who portrayed the young chimp Lucius. The teenage nephew of Zira (Kim Hunter), Lucius appears towards the end of the film to aid George Taylor in reaching the Forbidden Zone. The character is known for his rebellious nature, as he is against the higher ape society depicted in the movie.

Outside of archival footage in "Beneath the Planet of the Apes," Lucius has yet to return in any franchise follow-ups. However, in 1972's "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes," Wagner appears as a similarly defiant restaurant servant. The actor continued to have a steady career, with roles in such films and TV shows as "Airport," "Columbo," "Star Trek: The Next Generation," and "My Name is Earl." His other most well-known part is that of California highway mechanic Harlan Arliss across several seasons of the hit-running crime drama series "CHiPs."