Natalie Trundy, Actress in Four 'Planet of the Apes' Movies,' Dies at 79

Arthur Jacobs — Photofest — H 2020

While still in her teens, she starred twice on Broadway and in films with Dean Stockwell and Marlene Dietrich.

Natalie Trundy, who starred with Dean Stockwell in The Careless Years and appeared in four of the five original Planet of the Apes movies, has died. She was 79.

Trundy died Dec. 5 in Los Angeles of natural causes, her daughter, Alessandra Sabato, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Then newly married to Planet of the Apes producer Arthur P. Jacobs, Trundy was cast as the radiation-scarred mutant Albina opposite astronaut James Franciscus in the franchise's first sequel, Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970).

The actress then portrayed Dr. Stephanie "Stevie" Branton in Escape From Planet of the Apes (1971) and the chimpanzee Lisa, who winds up marrying Roddy McDowall's Caesar, in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) and Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973).

In June 1973, Jacobs died of a heart attack at age 51 in their Beverly Hills home while Trundy was in Mississippi filming a musical adaptation of Huckleberry Finn (1974), also produced by her husband. She made just one more onscreen appearance, on a 1978 episode of Quincy, M.E.

Born on Aug. 5, 1940, in Boston, Trundy appeared several times on live television before making her Broadway debut in 1953's A Girl Can Tell. The strawberry blonde then appeared in 1956 with Marlene Dietrich and Vittorio De Sica in The Montecarlo Story and with Shelley Winters on Broadway in Girls of Summer.

Trundy and Dean Stockwell play headstrong high school teenagers who go to Mexico to elope in The Careless Years (1957), the first feature directed by Arthur Hiller.

After appearing in the Jimmy Stewart film Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962) and on such TV shows as Climax!, Thriller, Bonanza and The Twilight Zone (in the 1963 episode "Valley of the Shadow"), Trundy was struck by a car and spent a year in a back brace.

The actress had met Jacobs, who was Dietrich's agent, during filming of The Montecarlo Story, and they bumped into each other in London while he was producing Doctor Dolittle (1967). (He would earn a best picture Oscar nomination for his work.) He became her second husband when they wed in London in June 1968.

Five years earlier, Jacobs, who also had repped Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Gregory Peck, Richard Burton and others, purchased the rights to Pierre Boulle's novel Monkey Planet, and the first entry in the Planet of the Apes series at 20th Century Fox reached theaters in April 1968.

Trundy chalked up her roles in the Apes moves to nepotism. She told Jacobs, "I wanna be in [the first sequel], and I was. All of them, from then on!" she said in Tom Weaver's 2003 book, Eye on Science Fiction. "I really did them for fun, if you want to know the truth."

Trundy later was married to Gucci executive Carmine Roberto Foggia — she had her daughter and son Francesco with him — and volunteered for years at Mother Theresa's hospice in Kolkata, India.