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John T. Kelley (sometimes credited as 'John T. Kelly') was an American screenwriter and 'script doctor' who contributed some uncredited adjustments to the screenplay of the 1968 movie Planet of the Apes.

Kelley had been a writer-director of the Family Theatre radio series on the Mutual Broadcasting System before his breakthrough into serial television writing episodes of The Millionaire (1959) - some in collaboration with writer/director Robert Altman, one starring Tod Andrews, and all featuring the voice of Paul Frees. Kelley went on to write television scripts for series' including The Troubleshooters (1959-60), Dr. Kildare (1961, his "Shining Image" episode earning Suzanne Pleshette an Emmy nomination), Bonanza (1961, his episode "Broken Ballad" guest-starring his wife Abigail Shelton Kelley), Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1961-62), The Danny Thomas Hour (1967, "The Enemy", starring Sammy Davis Jr. and directed by Don Taylor) and Insight (1966-71).

Kelley also often worked as an anonymous 'script doctor' brought in to revise or patch-up motion pictures already in production. It was in this capacity that he was invited by APJAC Productions' associate producer Mort Abrahams to revise the script for Planet of the Apes, with a story already written by Rod Serling and the dialogue having been largely re-worked by Michael Wilson. Abrahams recalled, much later, "I got a third screenplay writer. The third writer was Kelly... I can't remember his first name, but he did a dialogue polish. Basically, I think it went through four versions with Rod and three or four with Michael... then I called in Kelly and he did two or three drafts, which was, as I say, mostly dialogue polish and added a couple of notes of humor, and a couple which Frank [Schaffner] and I added on the set, like the 'monkey-see-monkey-do' and 'see-no-evil, hear-no-evil." "There was a touch-up of the dialogue by a writer by the name of Kelly - V.J. Kelly, [sic] unfortunately deceased. A splendid, splendid man."[1][2] Taylor pounding his fists in the sand and screaming in agony, “You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!” was a contribution of John T. Kelley, with some emotional ad-libbing by Charlton Heston.[3]

John T. Kelley wrote the movie screenplays for the sexual drama A Rage to Live (1965, starring Suzanne Pleshette, Bradford Dillman and James Gregory) and the thriller Zigzag (1970), and also did some uncredited script doctoring on Robert Altman's hit M*A*S*H (1970), but within a few months of the success was diagnosed with cancer and died in 1972, aged 51.

External Links


  1. The Planet of the Apes Chronicles, by Paul A. Woods (Page 43)
  2. The Planet of the Apes Chronicles, by Paul A. Woods (Page 66)
  3. Planet of the Apes 40th Anniversary (comment), by Brian L. Raney (2008)