Buck Kartalian, the Keeper of the Cages in Original 'Planet of the Apes,' Dies at 93

Buck Kartalian - S 2016
Courtesy of Subject

The veteran character actor, a former body builder, also portrayed the inmate Dynamite in Paul Newman's 'Cool Hand Luke.'

Buck Kartalian, the burly character actor who played the cigar-smoking gorilla Julius, the Keeper of the Cages, in the original Planet of the Apes, died Tuesday. He was 93.

Kartalian died of natural causes at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, Calif., his son, Jason Kartalian, said.

Kartalian also was known for his role as Dynamite, the "champion eater" and one of Paul Newman's fellow inmates, in Cool Hand Luke (1967), and he played a shopkeeper in Clint Eastwood's The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976). His career lasted more than six decades.

In Planet of the Apes (1968), Kartalian is in charge of security at the Research Complex for studying humans. He enjoys tormenting George Taylor (Charlton Heston) with a water hose before the captured astronaut escapes his jail cell. His character's cigar was his idea, and he has a memorable line in the movie: "You know what they say: 'Human see, human do.'"

Kartalian later played another gorilla named Frank in the 1972 sequel Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.

The 5-foot-3 Kartalian, a professional wrestler and body builder who was born in Detroit, portrayed Sampson in a 1951 production of Romeo and Juliet on Broadway (Olivia de Havilland starred as Juliet). He toured in a national production of Mister Roberts and then had a small role as a sailor in the 1955 Henry Fonda film version.

He came to Los Angeles in the 1960s.

Kartalian also appeared in such films as Sail a Crooked Ship (1961), Myra Breckinridge (1970), The Man With Bogart's Face (1980), The Rock (1996), My Favorite Martian (1999) and Tomcats (2001).

His TV résumé included the series Naked City, The Untouchables, Get Smart, McHale's Navy, Batman (as one of Catwoman's henchmen in the 1966 "Hot Off the Griddle" episode), Curb Your Enthusiasm, Just Shoot Me! and How I Met Your Mother.

He had a role in the 1959 Broadway play Golden Fleecing, directed by Abe Burrows.

Kartalian also is survived by children Julie and Aram.