Dateline December 24, 2011. Legendary film star Cheetah the chimpanzee monkey passes away. Was his death of natural causes or was he brutally murdered in his bungalow in the West Hollywood hills? The conspiracy theory lives on to this day with suspects that include the Freemasons, Mexican drug cartels and O.J. Simpson. After shoddy police work and a botched autopsy it remains in the cold case files by LAPD.
The deaths of celebrities often hit us hard. Brian, Stewie’s beloved dog from the hit animated TV series ‘Family Guy’ hit me especially hard when he was hit by a car. But Cheetah always held a special spot in my heart.
Born in the jungle and named after a nearby spotted African feline cat, Cheetah was discovered in a movie theater in 1932 by famous film director Martin Scorsese while watching ‘Gone with the Wind’. As he was munching on a bag of Rhesus Feces, Scorsese leaned over and asked him what he was doing in a movie theater. Cheetah replied, “I read the book and loved it.”
Later that year he was cast in the classic ‘Tarzan the Ape Man’ with Olympic hero Johnny Weissmuller and starlet Maureen O’Sullivan. After failing to land the role of a munchkin in ‘The Wizard of Oz’, he went on to star in ‘Tarzan and His Mate’ in 1934. Although many chimps were used in the Tarzan series, producers went ape over his performance, and he went on to appear in Tarzan movies through 1960 as well as the ‘Tarzan’ television series in 1966 when he played a wise elderly chimp that became the inspiration for Obi-Wan in the ‘Star Wars’ movies. Frustrated that he was being type cast he retired to a chimpanzee retirement community in West Hollywood.
Reportedly, his favorite, the Banana Cream pie was created especially for him at the Brown Derby in Hollywood, and the pie went on to be used in numerous Three Stooges and Abbott & Costello movies.
Banana Cream Pie
1 Ready-To-Go Graham Cracker Pie Crust
½ Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Flour
2 Cups Milk
3 Egg Yolks, Beaten
2 Tbs. Butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Salt
In a saucepan melt butter and add sugar, flour and milk. Mix well and add a pinch of salt. Stir constantly over medium heat until thickened. Remove from heat
Add egg yolks slowly whisking. Return to low heat and add vanilla extract. Remove from heat.
Pour into piecrust, slice a banana and layer on top. Chill and before serving top with whipped cream.
In 1956, Cheetah befriended a young and thin Elvis Presley and together, after a hard party night on the Las Vegas strip, they returned to his suite at the Flamingo Hotel and created one of Elvis’ signature snacks.
Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwich
2 Slices White Bread
2 Tbs. Creamy Peanut Butter
1 Banana Mashed
1 Tbs. Mayo
2 Tbs. Butter
Coat on slice of bread with mayo, the other slice with peanut butter. Spread mashed banana on one slice and combine them. Melt butter in a saucepan and cook like you would a grilled cheese. Flipping once.
He would not work again until landing a role as a bank robber in Clint Eastwood’s classic 1971 thriller ‘Dirty Harry’. In his later years he had a lucrative career as a talent agent. He brought the private detective chimps, the Banana Splits, to Saturday morning TV and he discovered the popular all girl rock band Cheetah Girls and introduced them to teens all over the world.
His legend is forever stamped in film buffs from all walks of life and he went out as the top banana.
1 12 Oz Can Biscuits
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tbs. Cinnamon
½ Cup Chopped Pecans
½ Cup Brown Sugar
½ Cup Butter
Pre heat oven to 325 degrees.
Grease a Bundt pan with Pam or butter, or Pam’s sister. Cut biscuits into quarters. Place cinnamon and sugar in a Ziploc bag and coat biscuits quarters in the bag.
In the Bundt pan layer chopped pecans then layer the biscuits on top. Continue to layer with chopped pecans on top. Melt brown sugar and butter together until sticky and pour over the top. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.
RIP my furry friend and check out the slideshow for some highlights in the life of this legendary film star.
Oongawah. The truth will be told.