Bedtime for Bonzo

QUESTION:  Peggy, the chimpanzee who starred in Bedtime for Bonzo would perform in how many other films after this classic?
A)  0
B)  1
C)  3
D)  5
ANSWER BELOW

1951 was a big year in Hollywood.  Films that were destined to be considered classics were released including The African Queen, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Ace in the Hole, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Strangers on a Train all made their cinematic debuts to great critical and, mostly, popular acclaim. Today we discuss a movie that may not have reached the high status of the others, but has definitely survived the amnesia of time.  Bedtime for Bonzo is a comedic tale about the pursuit of a definitive answer to the perpetual question of whether behaviors are determined by "nature versus nurture."  Psychology professor Peter Boyd hires a woman to act as his wife as he raises/trains young Bonzo as a child. That Bonzo is a chimpanzee provides the comedic elements that made the film endearing in its day.  That it stars future President of the United States Ronald Reagan as Peter Boyd is why it has remained in the national memory.

Reagan and Bonzo.jpg

One can speculate that Bedtime for Bonzo would have been entirely forgotten had Ronald Reagan not abandoned a career in acting during the 1960's to pursue politics. When he was nominated as the Republican candidate for president in 1980, the film suddenly resurfaced, being broadcast on television enough that Washington pundits claimed the film was a "favorite of old film buffs and Democrats."  Indeed, during much of his two terms in office, Reagan's performance in the film proved a running joke on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show," not only because it was an easy target, but because the film's director, Frederick De Cordova, had become a producer on the popular late-night talk show.  Our poster honoring the film is prominently displayed between the Emperor and the Mammoth in the Toy Box. (That sentence may prove to have no meaning to readers who have not yet experienced the American Treasure Tour. Which is to say, you better get here now!)

ANSWER:  A) 0.  Tragically, she died in a zoo fire two weeks after the release of her debut and, as it turned out, final film.