Sunday, April 23, 2006

This week's column:
A chimp for all seasons

With so many live-fast, die-young stars having made headlines in Hollywood over the years, it's refreshing to hear about one celebrity who managed to navigate a wild, debauched youth and emerge relatively unscathed. Yes, I'm talking about Carol Channing.

Wait, no, I read my notes wrong. I'm actually talking about Cheeta the chimp, who co-starred in a dozen "Tarzan" movies in the '30s and '40s and, according to the Associated Press, celebrated his 74th birthday at a California primate sanctuary last week. This puts Cheeta in an exclusive group of aging child stars from Hollywood's golden age, which consists primarily of him and Mickey Rooney, for whom he is often mistaken.

Anyway, the usually reclusive chimp sat down to an interview with me over dung beetles and banana daiquiris in his sunroom recently, looking a fraction of his age in a silk bathrobe and large-framed glasses, sort of like Elliot Gould in "Oceans 11." Here's what he had to say.

For the rest of this week's AT LARGE by Peter Chianca, click here.

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