Bob Burns was one of the last of the gorilla men. No, that's not a lost race of half-humans from an adventure serial. A "gorilla
man" was an actor who specialized in portraying the savage simians for movies and television. Many of these talented
men created their own costumes and each had his own style. Bob Burns built his first gorilla costume which he dubbed "Kogar"
in 1965 and began appearing on various television shows such as THE LUCY SHOW and MY THREE SONS. Later, with the help of
a young Rick Baker, he created a new head for his gorilla suit and became Tracy, the sidekick of Larry Storch and Forrest
Tucker in the Saturday morning program GHOSTBUSTERS. Tom Weaver recently spoke to Bob about one of the great gorilla men from
Hollywood's golden age. The entire article will appear in an upcoming issue of MONSTERS FROM THE VAULT magazine but Tom has
allowed MONSTER KID to present this short preview.
As a kid growing up in Oklahoma and California, I always loved jungle movies because I always loved the gorillas. And,
little by little, once I began meeting actors and makeup artists and other people who worked in the movie industry, I made
it my business to find out who Hollywood's "gorilla men" were. I knew from Glenn Strange that "Crash"
Corrigan played gorillas in a lot of pictures, and I knew about Emil Van Horn (Perils of Nyoka, The Ape Man, etc.) from Roy
Barcroft. I found out all the names through perseverance, mostly by asking the makeup guys. And whenever I would ask about
one of my favorite gorillas -- "Who played the gorilla in Murders in the Rue Morgue?", "Who played the gorilla
in The Monster and the Girl?", "Who played the gorilla in Phantom of the Rue Morgue? -- the answer would always
come back the same: Charlie Gemora. The way I was introduced to Charlie Gemora was through an old makeup guy I knew, Abe
Haberman. In talking to him one day, I mentioned Charlie Gemora doing apes, and Abe said, "He's over at Paramount now."
I'd had no idea. I knew Gemora did the Martian for The War of the Worlds  at Paramount, but I thought Paramount just
called him in for that. I didn't know he worked there. But he did: At that time, 1957, Wally Westmore was head of makeup
at Paramount, and Charlie Gemora was head of the lab.
Once Abe realized how interested I was, he said he'd make a call for me -- and he did. And Charlie Gemora said, "Sure,
come on over!", and we arranged to meet at Paramount a couple of days later. I had a pass that got me through the famous
Paramount gate and I proceeded to the makeup lab. I knew him as soon as I saw him, mainly from his size -- he was only about
five-five, a very short man. He was Filipino, and at that time he was probably 54 or 55 years old. It was really exciting
for me; and, funnily enough, he was really excited that I was excited, because he probably didn't have a whole lot of fans
asking to him about his work. He said a few people had talked to him about making the War of the Worlds Martian suit and
playing the Martian in the movie, but nobody had ever talked to him about doing the gorillas -- nobody had ever even mentioned
that. I was probably the first "fan" to ever mention the gorilla side of his career. So we got along famously.
Gemora worked so well with Lon Chaney and the cast of THE UNHOLY THREE (1930), he became known as "the Fourth Three".