Friday, February 08, 2013

Go Ape Day! Trading Card Close-Up

This trading card "close up" is # 59 in the Planet of the Apes TV series collection from 1974. There are sixty-six cards in this set, and this one serves as number six in puzzle # 1.

Anyway, I picked this particular card, featuring series villain General Urko, not just because I love the gorilla's hat (!), but because -- as the legend reads ---the great Mark Lenard essayed this role. I've always felt that Lenard is a true shining star of sci-fi actors. He passed away in 1996, but Lenard is one of the few actors in history to have played (in a featured, not extra capacity...) a Vulcan, Romulan and Klingon on Star Trek.

And that's just one achievement. In addition to his role as Sarek -- Spock's father -- in various Star Trek generations ("Journey to Babel," "Yesteryear," "The Search for Spock," "The Voyage Home," "The Undiscovered Country," "Sarek," and "Unification"), he made a (brilliant...) career of playing aliens or non-humans on other classic TV shows.

Planet of the Apes is probably Lenard's most memorable role, because he was so effective as the brutal simian General, yet Lenard also played an alien ambassador with a removable head (!) on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century ("Journey to Oasis"), the evil Emperor Thorval in the Cliffhangers (1979) segment "The Secret Empire" and a military ove rlord in an episode ("Zone Troopers Build Men") of Otherworld (1985).

Lenard guested on shows as diverse as Mission: Impossible, The Magician and The Incredible Hulk, and even had a role in the Woody Allen film Annie Hall.

So today, gazing upon the ape features of the evil General Urko, let's also remember the performer beneath the appliance and yak hair. Let's hear it for Mark Lenard. Just imagine if he were still around. It would have been amazing to see him on Stargate or Firefly or Farscape...

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