Hollywood Studio Magazine (May - June 1968)

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The exciting secret life of Scotty Del La Roche, the actor who doubles as a gorilla. By Napoleon Boz Scotty Del La Roche leads a strange double life. If his neighbors ever got wind of his daily occupation, there would be no end of problems on his block. It all started 37 years ago when Scotty’s father was tapped for the job of King Kong. “He dressed in a gorilla suit,” Scotty remembers, “and went to the studio. When he found out the gorilla was supposed to climb walls, and do dangerous stuff, he called me in. I finished most the the picture dressed in the suit my dad was supposed to wear.” Scotty discovered he liked monkeying around, and made a career of it. Coming from the circus, Scotty had a strong build. “I used to hang by my teeth,” he recalled recently, “and worked on a trapeze.” Papa Del La Roche owned a one ring circus and featured his family of seven boys and one girl in the acts. “But,” Scotty explained, “I’m the only one that stuck with it.” It was soon evident being a part-time gorilla wouldn’t be an 8 to 5 job. Since he took up with his monkey suit, Scotty has been around the world 13 times. His exposure to audiences in foreign lands proved the universal nature of his act. “There is no language barriers, when I hop into that suit,” Scotty explained with a grin, “it’s instant fun everywhere I go.” In his travels, Scotty has picked up French, (which he learned at home) Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Japanese. His suits are the best money can buy. Depending on where he has made them, a good one runs $5,000 to $7,000. The most realistic come from West Germany of all places, but have real gorilla hair. When a customer asked where the West German’s get gorilla fur, Scotty told the man, “It’s simple they go to a gorilla barber shop and sweep it off the floor.” When he works in the Orient, a suit will last about one year. In the rest of the world they last about two years. A running tally by his pretty wife Diane revealed Scotty has gone through 15 suits in a 35 year span. Not everyone Scotty meets thinks his outfit is funny. Once during a promotion for a pancake house, Scotty was supposed to stroll in and sit down at the counter. While cameras snaped he was expected to gobble down the first hot cakes. “Things were fine,” Scotty grinned as he recalled the incident, “until the little girl serving me got frightened. Her hands shook so bad she dropped the plate and broke it.” Another platter of griddle cakes was prepared and the waitress tried again. This plate clattered to the floor as soon as Scotty reached for it. “She dropped four plates before we gave the whole thing up,” Scotty said. In the Hollywood hills one afternoon, Scotty was hired to chase a housewife around her patio for a movie. The action was going great when an off duty policeman saw Scotty racing through the bushes chasing a screaming woman. “He pulled his gun and almost put one between my eyes before the director stopped him,” Scotty told me, “it’s been several years now and I still get the jitters thinking about it,” Scotty went on. His act once caused a panic when he jumped into the first row of seats in the theater he was playing, in Kuching, Borneo. The first row patrons leaped into the second row customers laps as Scotty vaulted over the footlights. In moments the crowd of several thousand were stampeding for the exits, “the idea,” Scotty explains, “is not to do that.” During his show in Ipoh, Malaya, the foot of his gorilla suit tore. Going into a Chinese shoe shop next door for repairs, Scotty put the torn foot on the counter, “The poor owner was superstitious or something,” Scotty said, “the instant he saw that monkey foot he shot out the door like a bullet leaving me standing there with my foot. The cash drawer was open, everything, but he wouldn’t come back ‘till I left with my monkey boot.” Diane and Scotty have adopted a son named Andre. A precocious youngster, Andre was born in Laos. Almost to the day he was made an American citizen, Andre got a part in the “King and I” production at the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles. Andre has a slight, delicate build, so it is unlikely he will take up Scotty’s career as a gorilla. “For that,” Scotty will tell you, “you need muscles.” With a chest like a barrel and arms to match, Scotty Del La Roche has the perfect requirements. It is hard to say where Scotty will go next in his odd double life, but chances are it will be back to the Orient. “One thing about me and religion,” Scotty said at the end of our interview, “I’m a universalist, I like people, I don’t need to know anyone’s nationality.” GORILLA 7