Walter T. Meyerwitz

26 Apr

That’s me! Walter T. Meyerwitz. I’m sitting to the left of Charlton. In real life I was on his right. But that’s how they say it in Hollywood, camera left. Like you were looking through the camera. Get it? Camera left? We’re taking a break from filming. See me? I really look an ape! I call him Charlton, but that’s because he told me to. You have to call him Mr. Heston because you don’t know him like I do. My dad sometimes does business with Mr. Heston (to you), so when he started making this Planet of the Ape movie, I asked my dad if he could see if there was a part for me. Turns out they were still looking for Ape #382. So I got the part! It was such a gas. I didn’t have any lines, but I got to grunt and jump up and down like I was going ape. It was nifty. Wait, I just made a joke. I was an ape going ape! That is so funny.

I love to tickle the funny bone.

When this photograph was taken, we were talking about acting. I had just completed playing Seabee # 6, a small but important role, in my high school’s annual production of South Pacific. Charlton (to me) was telling me how hard it was to work on Ben Hur. He had to play a man trapped as a galley slave for three years. I could relate. In South Pacific, I had to wear coconuts and pretend I was a woman.

As you can see, Charlton and I were very close. Sometimes he would invite me over to his trailer and we’d share a ham sandwich. Don’t tell my dad. We don’t eat pork in my house, but during the 3 days I was on set I did!

I loved being an ape. It was really nifty. I miss it sometimes. Especially when I’m at a dance and there’s a girl I want to talk to. I get so nervous, I wish I could put that ape mask back on and hide behind my monkey face. But that would be acting. In real life I’m a teenager who one day is going to become a man. Not like at my Bar Mitzvah. Like a real man. With chest hair. I hope I end up like Charlton. He’s my hero.

-As told to You Don’t Know Me in 1969 by Walter T. Meyerwitz, 17 years old, Beverly Hills, CA

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