Author Topic: KING KONG & Company ~ The Great Apes of Don Post Studios  (Read 481 times)

The Maskahuna

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KING KONG & Company ~ The Great Apes of Don Post Studios
« on: January 21, 2018, 12:41:58 AM »
With The HMA shutting down just days from now, I had to think up something big
for my final pictorial post ... something REALLY big!



They don't get any bigger than the mighty KONG! When DPS first created this figure
in the 1960s, it was touted as the biggest ever made for a wax museum ~



The era's finest craftsmen were on hand to assist, including John Chambers
who built the inner armature of steel/aluminum/plaster and Ellis Burman Sr
who sculpted it (on a scaffold using waterbase clay). Mike Plesch, who also
made DP's commercial mask molds, supervised the multi-part molding process
on KONG, advised by Sam Goldberg, a local plastics expert. The five-hundred-
pound casting itself consisted of burlap-reinforced latex injected with urethane
over an aluminum framework ~



In decades since, the molds were purchased by DJ Designs (fiberglass/resin developers)
who cast up another figure or two for carnivals, then resold the molds to puppeteer
Jack Shafton. They were eventually reacquired by Post Studios and remained there
into the early 2000s ~

       

A.D.I. effects group assembled a new figure from the old molds which loomed over
the convention floor at Monsterpalooza 2009 ~



A.D.I. later tried to sell the figure at auction but I doubt there were any takers
at a starting bid over $20,000. It may still stand today at A.D.I.'s facility.

At that same 2009 convention, I saw a casting of DP's miniature KONG after which
the giant figure was modeled back in the 1960s ~



Long thought to be a Marcel Delgado sculpture, Verne Langdon asserted that it was
actually Pat Newman's handiwork. However, I did find a handwritten note in my files
stating that Mr Delgado had built the armature for it.



Don Post Jr mentioned in interviews that this maquette could be marketed
as a limited edition. Sadly, DPS was closed down before this or any future
dream projects could be realized. To date, I've seen only a handful of
mini-KONGs in private collections ~

       



There have been homemade gorilla suits hanging in my closet for as long as
I've collected masks. However, none of mine were nearly as good as the
custom ape outfits available from DPS. Their first one was made in 1963 for
showman Jim Terry's "Grand Guignol Theatre" but later appeared on DP's
ad page ~



Verne Langdon credits his in-house seamstress Peggy Clinton with
stitching together all the great DP ape suits:

"She did the Kogar suit (for Bob Burns), she did the Rupert suit (as seen in
1966 calendar), and a couple more. She used a big curved needle, like a
fish hook and as big around as your pinkie finger. She wore thimbles on
most of her fingers and used pliers to stick it in and pull it out. It was
awful hard."




"She made the suit that Rupert had with a quilted material. It's the same thing
you'd use to make a thick bed pad. She sewed that material, with that hook.
It's the only thing you could sew it with. Then she'd sew a zipper into that.
It weighed a lot. Just wrestling it around on the table to sew was a huge job.
She'd be physically drained at the end of the day. She'd say 'I'm gonna have
to charge more money to do this because these are really hard work.' I'd say
'Peggy, you're lucky to be working here at all.' She had a mouth that went on
and on. You'd say 'hello' and she'd do three days! But she was so good at
trimming and so good at making gorilla suits."




It was a thrill seeing the first Kogar headmask, a Don Sr sculpt,
on display at Monsterpalooza in 2012 ~



My all time favorite head is still Marcel Delgado's gorilla mask which the veteran
effects man from 1933's King Kong was commissioned to sculpt.
Verne Langdon commented on his involvement with the look of Mr Delgado's version:

"I just stand around and nag people. I did that best. 'More of this, less of that'.
With Marcel, I was careful because he was old, he was sensitive, and he'd done
some very historic things. Still, we were paying him good money to do what we
wanted. He pretty much did it. It was based on King Kong; we showed him
Charlie (Gemora's) a lot because that was the look I wanted. Marcel did better
just winging it."


     



The most mysterious of all Don Post gorillas was made for and installed at
The Magic Castle in Hollywood. This exclusive supper club for professional
magicians hosted the life sized figure for decades. Its head, hands, and feet
were cast directly from Charles Gemora's original pieces. I haven't seen the
figure in almost twenty years although it may still be up there somewhere,
in its gilded cage. Photography is strictly forbidden inside The Magic Castle
but an accomplice and I managed to smuggle in a camera that day and
get off a quick shot. It's not the greatest but it's the best we could do
on the sly ~



Gorilla suits, Don Post masks, and the world of magic. They just go together so well ...



Perhaps the dark ride that is my life will empty out into a magic emporium at the end;
with ventriloquist puppets, rubber chickens, and gorilla costumes on one side,
Don Post masks and hands on the other. What better eternity for an old monster kid?

 



Josh

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Re: KING KONG & Company ~ The Great Apes of Don Post Studios
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2018, 01:51:20 PM »
"my final pictorial post" Those words are a bit heartbreaking. Great post, I didn't know anything about that giant Kong. However that mini-KONG has just made the top of my want list

prestonjjrtr

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Re: KING KONG & Company ~ The Great Apes of Don Post Studios
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2018, 02:36:42 PM »
Say it isn't so that is your final post.  These posts will certainly be missed by all.  These are true treasures of mask information. I absolutely love that mini-Kong !  Never realized that it existed, but now it will be on my ever growing wish list.  Thanks so much the great Maskahuna for all of your research and contributions over the many years.  I've learned so much and can't thank you enough.   

Kidagain

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Re: KING KONG & Company ~ The Great Apes of Don Post Studios
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2018, 03:16:38 PM »
Amazing info as always Huna,the mask and monster field will miss these gems and the HMA as well.

Rezman777

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Re: KING KONG & Company ~ The Great Apes of Don Post Studios
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2018, 03:55:22 PM »
Now that Don Post has signed on with TOTS, maybe they could bring the little Kong back to life.

Doh!

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Re: KING KONG & Company ~ The Great Apes of Don Post Studios
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2018, 05:22:03 PM »
Wonderful stuff, 'Huna! I'll miss your Post posts... thanks for all of the wonderful history lessons here.
"You're dead, son.  Get yourself buried."
--J.J. Hunsecker

Kidagain

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Re: KING KONG & Company ~ The Great Apes of Don Post Studios
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2018, 07:03:37 PM »
Now that Don Post has signed on with TOTS, maybe they could bring the little Kong back to life.
When did this happen? This could be amazing,I thought Don was going into retirement.What can he bring to the table,does he still hold any licences?

Josh

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Josh

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Re: KING KONG & Company ~ The Great Apes of Don Post Studios
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2018, 07:24:10 PM »
It was a thrill seeing the first Kogar headmask, a Don Sr sculpt,
on display at Monsterpalooza in 2012 ~





That original Kogar is amazing! I'm fascinated by Gorilla suits and the guys that made a living in them. I'm of course also a huge Bob Burns fan (but isn't everybody?)  Kelly Mann is working on a gorilla suit of his own and I can't wait to see pics.

Kidagain

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Re: KING KONG & Company ~ The Great Apes of Don Post Studios
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2018, 07:27:23 PM »
Thanks Josh.

FRANKENSTEIN

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Re: KING KONG & Company ~ The Great Apes of Don Post Studios
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2018, 04:36:37 AM »
Thank you Huna for all the fantastic posts. We mask lovers have all learned so much from all these classic and historical threads you have created. They will be greatly missed by all.  The King King and Gorilla information is priceless! Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and expertise with us.  It is truly appreciated! 

Gory Glenn

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Re: KING KONG & Company ~ The Great Apes of Don Post Studios
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2018, 11:43:11 AM »
When did this happen? This could be amazing,I thought Don was going into retirement.What can he bring to the table,does he still hold any licences?
https://www.trickortreatstudios.com/don-post-jr

Fantastic post 'huna! Amazing information so well presented. It would be cool to pair you up with someone who's good at making video presentations like Monsterama and do a series of YouTube videos with this kind of content. I'm sure they would be a big hit! Got a kick out of seeing Evil and Guy in a couple of your pics. Thanks so much for posting this!

jupiter2

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Re: KING KONG & Company ~ The Great Apes of Don Post Studios
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2018, 04:22:10 PM »
Thank you, Maskahuna!