A startling revelation from the '60s emerged this week when Dan Richter, who played the contemplative ape in the prologue of 2001: A Space Odyssey, acknowledged a top-level, primate-swiping security breach on Stanley Kubrick's set. It all started with the embittered recollection of losing a special 1968 Make-Up Oscar to Planet of the Apes — and then, like a slo-mo bone in the prehistoric sky, the conspiracy theories flew:
Planet of the Apes? It was so below what we were doing! Also, I'll tell you something else: We had stuff stolen. I can't say it was Planet of the Apes, but they were the only other movie shooting at the same time and same place we were. Stanley and I even had someone steal a mask and some ape hands right out from under our noses on the backlot, where someone had hid in a drainage ditch. We were in lockdown all the time.
Most whispers over the years have suspected Planet star Charlton Heston himself, whose kleptomaniacal drive for monkey superiority was one of Hollywood's best-kept secrets of the last four decades. Closure is within reach since the star's passing, however, when an autopsy revealed that the period rifle pried from his cold, dead hands was in fact lifted from the set of Kubrick's 1975 epic Barry Lyndon. We knew it! A face-to-face afterlife apology is surely forthcoming.