Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sammy Davis, Jr. And "Planet of the Apes"

When Sammy Davis, Jr. died in May 1990, he was apparently in deep financial trouble. Most significantly, he owed $5.2 million in back taxes. As a result, in October 1991, the IRS held an auction to sell off his possessions. Among them, according to an article in People magazine from the time, was "an eight-foot-tall fiberglass statue of a character from The Planet of the Apes ($2,500)."

So Sammy Davis Jr. was an "Apes fan," huh. I did not expect that. And if you're keeping 8 foot statues in your house (of anything, let alone talking apes), you must be a pretty big enthusiast. Which character, I wondered? What did the statue look like? Well, as it turns out, this was apparently all very well known in "Apes Fandom" circles. Two identical 8 foot statues of "The Lawgiver" (see photo at left) were made as props for the original 1968 film Planet of the Apes. After production of the last sequel was finished in 1973, one of these statues found it's way to the back yard of the films' producer, Arthur P. Jacobs. (Presumably his wife, Natalie Trundy, didn't complain since she featured in several of those films herself.) And the other one went to..... yup: The Candyman himself. (He was also a big supporter of President Richard Nixon at the time.)
I imagine that Sammy's widow may have been a little underwhelmed when she first learned that in death he had stuck her with a $5 million tax debt, offset by "assets" that included an 8 foot tall Planet of the Apes statue. ("And to my loving wife, I leave, as a symbol of our devotion, my treasured "Lawgiver" statue....") And imagine the "delight" of the IRS when she proposed to give them that to pay this huge tax bill. ("Well, let's see. What can I give you. Hmmmm. Let's think. Well, Sammy did have this very 'valuable' movie prop somewhere....Ah yes, here it is...")


  1. I reckon the time comes when The Lawgiver shall stand sloping forehead to sloping forehead next to the Lawbreaker: