Booth Colman is an American actor from Portland, Oregon. Booth was educated at the universities of Washington and Michigan and he majored in Oriental studies as he wanted to become an archaeologist. However during World War II, after he had served with the army in the Japanese language Corps, Colman was drawn into acting. He made his debut in Irwin Shaw's The Assassin in 1944. Following more than a years working in various plays, the Hamlet opportunity presented itself. This monumental project tied him down in the part of Guildenstern for two years - so long, that he began to dream not as often as Booth Colman as he dreamt in the character of Guildenstern - playing opposite Maurice Evans (the 'other' Zaius) in the title role. Renowned for his excellent Broadway interpretations, Colman has appeared with such luminaries of the boards as Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence in Tonight at 8.30, Fredrick Marsh in Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep and Basil Rathbone in The Winslow Boy. Among his closest friends for more than 20 years were the late comedian Stan Laurel and Evie and Boris Karloff. A confirmed bachelor, 5' 9 1/2", 150 lbs. Colman's modest Hollywood apartment housed his most prized personal possession - a collection of the signatures of 22 of the 37 United States Presidents.[1]

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Colman became popular throughout the country for his stage roles as 'Wirz', the Civil War prison camp commandant in The Andersonville Trial and as the sly and introspective attorney 'Clarence Darrow' in Inherit The Wind. He quietly was cabled to Hollywood to make his motion picture debut during 1951. Producer/director Howard Hawkes wanted him for a film The Big Sky with Kirk Douglas. Since then he has appeared in nearly fifty features including, Julius Caesar, Them!, Auntie Mame, Romanoff and Juliet, The Great White Hope and Walt Disney's Scandalous John. On television, Booth has guest starred in many of the top series including The Outer Limits, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Monkees, Garrison's Gorillas (with Ron Harper), Mission: Impossible, The Invaders, McCloud, Kung Fu, Police Story, Galactica: 1980, and Star Trek Voyager. As far as this site is concerned, he is best known for his interpretation of the part of Council Chairman Zaius in the 1974 Planet of the Apes TV series.

Mark Lenard, who played the part of gorilla leader Urko in the weekly series, recalled: "One day in May, I was asked if I was interested in going down and reading for it... And I read for it, and I never expected to get it. The next day there were readings for Zaius, as I found out later on, and the day after that they called couples down to the studio. And there were three couples: one Zaius and one Urko; and each of them read again, together. I read with Booth Colman; but I found out that the studio had already chosen - decided on us - and were just discussing it with CBS. And it was as simple as that... It was a series and... everybody expected it to be a blockbuster. There's nothing like being with a top show."[2] Colman had the same hopes for the show: “It looked to be a winner. It was auspiciously pre-sold without a pilot, and everyone was agreeable and enthusiastic when we began the series. What really interested me was the possibility that 'Apes' could have a long run. That’s very important to a freelance actor.”[3]

Asked by the producers if he could cope with the arduous makeup process, Colman had joked "Lon Chaney's ghost will come down and protect me!". "The make-up wasn't very comfortable. After they cast me, they took an impression of my face in a plastic mask, and my hands. The full make-up took quite a bit of getting used to. Frank Westmore made me up every morning, and it took three hours. I had to be in his chair at 5 a.m. to be ready on set at 8 a.m., with a very short interval for breakfast, before they had the lower half of my face to deal with."[4] “Nonessential conversation was discouraged because talking loosened the masks. The makeup people would constantly fix, dab and adjust the makeup throughout the day, and that took some getting used to! Lunch wasn't the best of times either, eating with a straw. Yet it was a happy set most of the time.” It soon became apparent that confidence in the series was no match for poor ratings figures, and the plug was pulled after just fourteen episodes had been filmed. “It was a real shame. My makeup guru, Frank Westmore, told me that we were going to be cancelled. Had the stories been better written and the characters developed, we could have had a three-year run. But the stories didn’t have the imagination or quality necessary to sustain viewers. One could only cope with the dialogue, develop a personality for the character, hit your mark and hope it looked believable.”[3]


  • The shooting script for "Escape from Tomorrow" indicates that Zaius is in his mid-fifties at the time of the Planet of the Apes television series.


External Links


  1. Planet of the Apes Newsletter, July/September 1976, at Hunter's Planet of the Apes Archive
  2. Urko Unleashed, by Chris Claremont - 'Planet of the Apes' UK #22 (22 March 1975)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Secrets of the Planet of the Apes, By Mark Phillips - Starlog #371 (December 2008)
  4. Primate Time Television, by Paul Simpson - 'SFX Magazine' (2001)

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