'Planet of the Apes' actor Roddy McDowall dies at 70

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The Independent Online
BRITISH actor Roddy McDowall, who won international acclaim for his portrayal as a chimpanzee in Planet of the Apes, died peacefully at his Los Angeles home yesterday. Mr McDowall, 70, who starred with Charlton Heston as Cornelius in the cult movie, was diagnosed with cancer in April.

Roderick Andrew Anthony Jude McDowall was born in London, to a Scottish father and an Irish mother. By the age of eight, he was embarking on what was to be a long and highly successful showbusiness career. His earliest films included How Green Was My Valley, My Friend Flicka and Lassie Come Home, in which he appeared with another then unknown child star, called Elizabeth Taylor. The two remained lifelong friends.

In 1940 Mr McDowall was evacuated to the United States during the German bombardment of London, where he quickly impressed Hollywood producers. On arrival at his Hollywood school, he asked which seat had been occupied by Mickey Rooney - and he at once bagged it.

Mr McDowall, an Emmy and Tony award winner, starred or featured in some 140 films. He was best known for his starring roles between 1968 and 1973 in four of the five Planet of the Apes films. He also appeared in the 1974 television movie and subsequent television series. He went to enormous lengths to perfect his part by studying his subjects in zoos, and became a master of the feet-out, knees-bent, body-hunched walk and run.

The unmarried actor also was an accomplished photographer. He photographed Elizabeth Taylor in a nude layout for Playboy magazine in 1963.

In 1991, he was honoured with the Motion Picture and TV Fund's Silver Medallion for his humanitarian efforts for the film industry.