Emil VanHorn - Rotten Tomatoes

Emil VanHorn

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Emil Van Horn was one of Hollywood's "gorilla men," actors and stuntmen whose ownership of -- and ability to convincingly wear -- gorilla suits kept them busy in pictures. Virtually nothing is known of his life before he entered pictures in this capacity, or his personal life, although Lorna Gray, of Perils of Nyoka (1942), in which Van Horn played Satan the Gorilla, recalled in a 1992 interview that the actor's wife would come to the set with his lunch, which the diminutive Van Horn would eat in his costume. Van Horn's performance as Satan, incidentally, is one of the highlights of the movie, though the gorilla never speaks, he is a fairly well-defined character in the chapter-play and enjoyable to watch, and he plays a central role in the Chapter 15 denouement. He was also the gorilla in the W.C. Fields vehicle Never Give A Sucker an Even Break (1941), and according to one recent account, he said in an interview that he and Fields spent a good deal of time off the set imbibing various alcoholic beverages. He was also the gorilla in the Bela Lugosi movie The Ape Man, and appeared in the Abbott & Costello movie Keep 'em Flying as well, in the funhouse sequence. When film work dried up, Van Horn -- who was a handsome but diminutive man with a moustache -- would take his gorilla suit onto the burlesque stage, in various "beauty and the beast" motifs. Accounts of his later life say that he lost his gorilla suit when it was either stolen or a landlady to whom he owed money confiscated it. He did occasional extra work without the suit, on movies shooting where he happened to be living -- Miami and New Orleans were his preferred cities -- but gradually slipped into dire poverty. Supposedly, he was able to cadge drinks by telling stories about Hollywood, and his contacts with W.C. Fields and Clark Gable, amongst others. Van Horn reportedly died in a hospital on New Year's Day 1967.

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT BOX OFFICE YEAR
No Score Yet The Ape Man
  • The Ape
1943
No Score Yet Keep 'em Flying
  • Man In Gorilla Suit
1941
100% Never Give a Sucker an Even Break
  • Gargo Gorilla
1941

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