‘Planet of the Apes’ Remembered, Pt.2

0
1210
A window inside Brian Peck’s extensive “Planet of the Apes” memorabilia collection

In anticipation of the latest “Planet of the Apes” movie release coming up in July, The Malibu Times met with one local superfan, who gave a tour of his extensive collection of memorabilia. The museum is a glimpse into the fandom surrounding one of the most iconic movies filmed in Malibu, and will be published in a two — part story in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of filming. This is the second installment.

“Planet of the Apes” superfan and memorabilia collection owner Brian Peck had just discovered a way to begin collecting original movie costumes, by “losing” them and paying the replacement fee. 

“The costumes weren’t being protected at all,” Peck told The Malibu Times. 

“There was a time when Western Costume — they’re much better about their stuff now because they realize it has value, but there was a time when you could go to Western Costume and you could rent Scarlett O’Hara’s gown from ‘Gone With the Wind.’ They didn’t care,” he said. “You could rent anything. Literally the tag would say ‘Vivien Leigh’ in the neck.

“They weren’t really taking care of the stuff and they would rent it to anybody for a Halloween party,” he continued. “You could have rented Rhett Butler’s tuxedo from “GWTW” and then gone to a Halloween party and thrown up on it. They would have been like, ‘Oh well.’ I thought, ‘Well, this sort of sucks, and I need to have these costumes and I’m going to take better care of them.’”

When Western Costume moved from Hollywood to Burbank and started selling costumes, Peck picked up quite a few more. 

 “I had the chimp costume for 10 years and I never expected to get anything else,” Peck said. “I thought it was cool that I had a single original costume, and then when I got the lawgiver statue at the Sammy Davis Jr. estate auction — now suddenly I have this nine — foot — tall iconic prop from ‘Planet of the Apes’ and I thought, ‘Well, that’s it. I need more stuff.’ So much of this stuff has come my way without me even looking for it. I have several wonderful things that have been given to me by people who have said, ‘You should have this. You’re the guy with the ‘POTA’ museum — this should be there, or, I know you’ll take care of it.’ That’s been amazing.”

 

One gift “given” to him by a friend is a personalized license plate that reads “DR ZAIUS” after the famous character in the movie. Peck has used the plate for 13 years on his orange car. The gift was a surprise, but in order to get a personalized plate a signature is required so the friend tricked Peck into signing a document by covering up everything save for the signature line and told Peck not to worry, that he would surely enjoy a later surprise. Peck was thrilled with the gift and says he doesn’t mind paying the $40 yearly renewal fee.

“People often ask me, ‘Why “Planet of the Apes?” Is it your favorite movie?’ and I have to say it is because I have an entire museum dedicated to it,” Peck said. “I saw the movie when I was eight. It was one of the first adult movies I saw. It had mature themes, some nudity, curse words and I just was obsessed with the makeup, costumes and the production design — even the story. It’s very heady. It’s not particularly action packed. It’s very wordy. I don’t know why it captivated me so much. It’s the movie that made me want to work on movies. ‘So you can dress up as a monkey and talk? That’s a job and they pay you? If you can get paid to do this that would be the most fun thing ever.’ It was the first movie that registered with me that working on movies is something you can actually do for a living.”

And Peck did make a living in Hollywood for years as an actor and producer. Some years back, he was working on a movie that had a budget for only one big star. The producers were looking for someone British and Peck suggested Roddy McDowell for the part. McDowell took the role and, because Peck was such a big fan of McDowell, including his work in the “POTA” films, he offered to be McDowell’s driver to the set. 

“He was the guy in everything I thought was cool. He was a villain on ‘Batman,’ he was in ‘Night Gallery,’ he was on ‘Twilight Zone,’ the ‘Poseidon Adventure.’” It was on the drives to and fro that the two eventually became friends, although Peck waited three days before telling McDowell he was a huge fan and ape nut. 

“He was such a cinefile and proponent of film preservation and worked a lot with the academy,” Peck recalled. “He was taken with the idea that I was preserving stuff. He saw all my ape stuff and said it was wonderful that someone was taking care of the costumes and such.”

One of Peck’s favorite “POTA” pieces is one of the smallest things he owns. It’s an ape necklace given to him by Mc Dowell, who played Cornelius in the “Apes” franchise. 

“I visited with him at his house when he was very ill — less than a week before he passed away — and he wanted me to have a few things, and that was something he gave me,” Peck recalled. “He though was the ultimate collectible — my friendship with Roddy Mc Dowell.”

 

The “POTA” franchise has been so successful that Tim Burton directed a remake in 2001 and, of course, Peck found his way into the movie as an extra. Unfortunately, he said, “In spite of some really beautiful makeup work and costume design it was an unwatchable.” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” followed in 2014 and “War of the Planet of the Apes” will be released this month.

“This kind of collectible stuff is worth a lot of money — that’s not untrue, but I don’t have any desire to make money off it,” Peck reflected. “My desire is to eventually have it on display at a museum for people to see it and enjoy it the same way I do.”