‘Beneath the Planet of the Apes’ Actor David Watson Dies at 74

By Ambika Thakur | 2 years ago

British actor David Watson died at the age of 74. Watson was the British-American actor best known for the role of Cornelius (chimpanzee archaeologist) in the movie “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” in 1970. Read on to learn more about this story.

According to thestage.co.uk,  Watson passed away after a suffering a heart attack during a trip to New York. He had been attending the opening night of the Broadway play “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" at the time of his death. Click here to read a personal tribute from producer Robert Fox.


Watson was brought up in London and became a professional singer in his late teens. His career started as a choirboy at London's iconic Westminster Abbey and sang at Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953. He later toured nightclubs and cabarets as a singer before embarking on a acting career — first on stage and later in U.S. TV shows such as “Rawhide” (1965), “Never Too Young ” (1965-66), “The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.” (1966),  “The Time Tunnel” (1966) and “Daniel Boone” (1968-70).

The character of Cornelius was originally played by Roddy McDowall in "The Planet of the Apes” series, but the actor was unavailable to shoot the sequel, so Watson replaced him in the 1970 film. MCDowall returned for the rest of the series.

Watson next came back to the British stage, appearing in “The Great Waltz”  (1969-70) and Peter Ustinov’s “R Loves J” (1973) and temporarily returned to small screens in "Charlie's Angels" (1977), “Bionic Woman” (1977) and "Project U.F.O."  (1978) before becoming an agent in 1979 with the London-based White Light agency. He made sporadic returns to acting subsequently, including the films “Beyond the Next Mountain” (1987), “Perry Mason: The Case of the Lady in the Lake” (1988) and “Criminal Ways” (2003).

We continue to pray for David Watson's family and friends during this difficult time. For more celebrity news coming up, stay tuned here on Movie News Guide (MNG).

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