Domo arigato Mr MugatoFrom his studio in Santa Monica, the talented sculptor fashioned a menagerie of creatures great and small, of this earth and out of this world.  " /> Domo arigato Mr MugatoFrom his studio in Santa Monica, the talented sculptor fashioned a menagerie of creatures great and small, of this earth and out of this world.  " /> Domo arigato Mr MugatoFrom his studio in Santa Monica, the talented sculptor fashioned a menagerie of creatures great and small, of this earth and out of this world.  " />

Remembering Janos Prohaska

Here I am… writing about death again. 

Some deaths stick with you even when you don’t know the person.  I didn’t know Janos Prohaska, a Hungarian émigré who made a career in Hollywood buried under Latex and faux fur but I remember reading about his death when I was 12 and the tragic details made an impression on me. 

Janos ProhaskaProhaska was born in Budapest on October 10, 1919.  An intense and mercurial man with a devilish attention to detail, he had an early role as a circus performer in Billy Rose’s Jumbo (1962) but seemed most comfortable when least recognizable.  From his Santa Monica studio, the talented sculptor fashioned a menagerie of creatures great and small, of this earth and out of this world.  On The Outer Limits, he was Darwin the Monkey in the classic episode “The Sixth Finger” and a Thetan raygunman in "The Architects of Fear" (pictured below).  In David J. Schow’s indispensable Outer Limits Companion, director Byron Haskin is quoted as having met Prohaska the day “he came into my office, put a beer bottle on the table, and then stood on his head with his finger in the bottle, supporting himself. He could defy the law of gravity." 

ThetanApes were Prohaska’s forte and he played them in episodes of Perry Mason, Gilligan’s Island, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Land of the Giants.  On Lost in Space and Bewitched he played giant birds but for Star Trek he crafted a panoply of interstellar critters, from the horned Mugato of “A Private Little War” to the rolling Horta in “A Devil in the Dark.”  As Heloise the gorilla, Prohaska strangled intelligent chimp Sal Mineo in Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) and was still doing his simian thing as late as the short-lived hospital sitcom Temperature’s Rising in 1973.  He also had a profitable sideline playing bears, due to his regular gig as the insatiable Cookie Bear on The Andy Williams Show between 1969 and 1971.  (It has long been speculated that the computer term "cookie" comes from its coiner's love of The Andy Williams Show, specifically Prohaska's weekly attempts to beg a snack from the stingy host.)  Ursine bits followed on Mayberry RFD, Here’s Lucy and Dusty’s Trail.  Prohaska was cast as a talking bear masquerading as a man in a bear suit in the 1972 half-hour The Bear and I, opposite Soupy Sales and Joe Flynn, but the pilot went unsold. 

Janos Prohaska died on March 13, 1974, when his chartered Convair CV-440 crashed in Bishop, California.  Prohaska was on his way to participate in the BBC miniseries The Ascent of Man.  He was 54 years old.  Killed with him were his 28 year-old son, Bobby Prohaska, and 33 others. 

Lovers of ersatz simians celebrate National Gorilla Suit Day on January 31st of each year.  This gives you plenty of time to plan for next year.  Do it up big.  Do it for Janos. 

Save the date

8 Responses Remembering Janos Prohaska
Posted By Medusa : March 14, 2007 11:21 am

How thrilling to see pictures of two of my favorite TV creatures, Trek's Mugato and Outer Limit's amazing Thetan, in the same post!  I was also a Janos fan, particularly because of his appearances in those sci fi shows, and I do love that pic of the Thetan in his loincloth.  (I have *no* desire to see what's underneath it, however.  Okay, that's a lie, I really do.  Sorry about that….)Also glad to see a mention of the great The Outer Limits Companion which is a beloved part of my own library.  I only have the original edition; I guess I need to get the new one if it has great unseen (to me) photos like that.Janos definitely lives on!

Posted By Medusa : March 14, 2007 11:21 am

How thrilling to see pictures of two of my favorite TV creatures, Trek's Mugato and Outer Limit's amazing Thetan, in the same post!  I was also a Janos fan, particularly because of his appearances in those sci fi shows, and I do love that pic of the Thetan in his loincloth.  (I have *no* desire to see what's underneath it, however.  Okay, that's a lie, I really do.  Sorry about that….)Also glad to see a mention of the great The Outer Limits Companion which is a beloved part of my own library.  I only have the original edition; I guess I need to get the new one if it has great unseen (to me) photos like that.Janos definitely lives on!

Posted By Laura Sprague : June 29, 2007 2:46 am

I love that Thetan! And to think that because "The Outer Limits" was shown during prime-time, many TV stations in that era put a black strip over the Thetan's eyes thinking that it would make the poor guy less scary to little kids. He was still scary, though, and many a kid had nightmares after seeing this TOL episode, "The Architects of Fear"! The guy wearing that suit had to learn how to walk on stilts.

Posted By Laura Sprague : June 29, 2007 2:46 am

I love that Thetan! And to think that because "The Outer Limits" was shown during prime-time, many TV stations in that era put a black strip over the Thetan's eyes thinking that it would make the poor guy less scary to little kids. He was still scary, though, and many a kid had nightmares after seeing this TOL episode, "The Architects of Fear"! The guy wearing that suit had to learn how to walk on stilts.

Posted By John : August 24, 2007 1:09 pm

That picture wasn't in the2nd edition of Schow's book. I wonder what happened to that costume. If the story ever gets remade they MUST use that design. It's just too other-worldly! 

Posted By John : August 24, 2007 1:09 pm

That picture wasn't in the2nd edition of Schow's book. I wonder what happened to that costume. If the story ever gets remade they MUST use that design. It's just too other-worldly! 

Posted By John : August 24, 2007 1:09 pm

That picture wasn't in the2nd edition of Schow's book. I wonder what happened to that costume. If the story ever gets remade they MUST use that design. It's just too other-worldly! 

Posted By John : August 24, 2007 1:09 pm

That picture wasn't in the2nd edition of Schow's book. I wonder what happened to that costume. If the story ever gets remade they MUST use that design. It's just too other-worldly! 

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