Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Linda Harrison (Zanuck)

With a NEW Wonder Woman tv series currently filming, we thought it only appropriate to look at the first actress to embody the Amazon Princess on screen!
In 1966, at the height of the "camp" craze spawned by Batman, the show's producer William Dozier tried three more comic characters as tv series.
One, The Green Hornet, ran for a single 26-episode season.
The second, Dick Tracy, never made it past the pilot.
The third, Wonder Woman, reached the "test reel" stage, with about 10 minutes of footage being shot. Linda Harrison was Wonder Woman, opposite a plain-Jane Diana Prince played by Ellie May Walker. After seeing the footage, 20th Century Fox execs vetoed even going for a 30-minute pilot and the project died.
The footage has surfaced on a number of bootleg dvds and YouTube...

A year later, 20th began pre-production on the first Planet of the Apes film.
Concerned that the ape makeup, so critical to the success of the film, might not look right on film, a screen test was done with Edward G. Robinson as Dr. Zaius, James Brolin as Cornelius, and Linda as Zira playing opposite Charlton Heston.
The concerns proved valid. The makeup was redesigned before main unit shooting began. (You can see the test footage on the Planet of the Apes Special Edition and Behind the Planet of the Apes DVDs)
Linda was then cast as "Nova", the non-speaking human female lead in Planet of the Apes, and it's immediate sequel, Beneath the Planet of the Apes. (And yes, I know she has one line in BtPotA!)

She married 20th Century studio boss Daryl V. Zanuck between filming the two Apes movies.
After BtPotA, Linda changed her name to "Augusta Summerland" and did minor tv and film roles
She divorced Zanuck and retired from acting in 1978.
Linda returned to acting in 1985, in Cocoon, produced, ironically, by her ex-hubby, Zanuck!
Genre appearances include...
Planet of the Apes [2001] (Woman in cart)
Cocoon / Cocoon: the Return (Susan aka Mom)
Planet of the Apes / Beneath the Planet of the Apes (Nova)
Planet of the Apes Makeup Test (Zira, played by Kim Hunter in three films)
Way, Way Out (Peggy)
The Fat Spy (Treasure Hunter)
Wonder Woman "Who's Afraid of Diana Prince?" [test footage] (Wonder Woman)
Batman "The Joker Goes to School" / "He Meets His Match, the Grisly Ghoul" (CheerLeader)

Check out...
Cult Sirens: Linda Harrison
The Forbidden Zone (PotA FanSite)

Nova returned in the animated Return to the Planet of the Apes episode "Flames of Doom", voiced by Claudette Nevins.
Note: most purists consider both the animated and live-action PotA tv series to be "alternate universe" and / or non-canonical.
"Nova", played by Lisa Marie in the 2001 PotA movie remake, was a chimpanzee. Not the same character.

Other Wonder Women since Linda include...
Wonder Woman (1973) Cathy Lee Crosby
New, Original Wonder Woman / New Adventures of Wonder Woman (1975-1978) Lynda Carter
Super Friends / The All-New Super Friends Hour / Challenge of the Super Friends (1973-83) Shanon Farnon
SuperFriends: the Legendary Super Powers Show (1984) Constance Crawford
The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians (1985) / Superman (1985) "Sorceress of Time" "Birthday Party" BJ Ward
Justice League / Justice League Unlimited (2002-06) Susan Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning (WW as child in "Kid's Stuff")
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Vanessa Marshall
Justice League: New Frontier Lucy Lawless
Wonder Woman (2009) Keri Russell
Wonder Woman (2011) [UnSold Pilot] Adrianne Palicki
and the current holders of the name...
Young Justice Maggie Q
Video Game performers: Tara Platt, Courtenay Taylor

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