When it comes to animals in pop culture, there are three you just cannot ignore. Those are dogs, cats, and monkeys. Look at movies, and you will see these three animals dominate movies. And they get star roles, not just some small roles. Famous monkeys, for example, shine in any role they get. We even have monkey movie franchises.
For example, Planet of the Apes, King Kong, and some more. Nowadays, it seems like apes and monkeys are everywhere. So, with that in mind, we will try to look at some monkey stars in pop culture. Let’s go.
Crystal – The Hangover Part II
The mischievous capuchin monkey was the star of the Hangover. She stole the show in any scene she appeared. Yes, they sexualized her a lot, giving her scenes touching penises and stuff. But there is no denying fans loved Crystal.
Director Todd Phillips may or may not have gotten her addicted to smoking. He says it was just a joke that some media took it too far. But he might be hiding the addiction of the famous monkey.
Crystal is a female capuchin monkey and animal actress. She was acquired and trained by Birds & Animals Unlimited, Hollywood’s largest supplier of animals.
Fun fact: her acting career began as a baby monkey in Disney’s 1997 film George of the Jungle.
Jack – Pirates of the Caribbean
When you think of pirates, what is their pet? In 99.9% of cases, that is a parrot. Well, Captain Barbossa wanted to try something different in Pirates of the Caribbean. Instead of the traditional squawker, he went for a monkey in the pirates’ movies. Jack is an undead monkey just like his owner.
Jack the Monkey was an unforgettable character in the Pirates franchise. His impressive debut on Captain Hector Barbossa’s shoulder made him a star. And he remained a star on social media for many years afterward.
Bubbles – Michael Jackson’s Monkey
Michael Jackson could afford anything and everything in his life. The King of Pop was at the height of his popularity in the 1980s and 1990s.
At that point, he bought Bubbles from a Texas research facility in the 1980s. The famous monkey frequently traveled with Michael. For example, Bubbles went on the Bad World Tour. In Japan, they drank tea with the mayor of Osaka.
Initially, Bubbles lived in the Jackson family home in Los Angeles. But he later moved to the Neverland Ranch. There, he even slept in the crib of the singer’s bedroom.
Since 2005, Bubbles lives at the Center for Great Apes, a sanctuary in Florida. He is in his late 30s. Most chimpanzees live up to 50 years.
Abu – Aladdin
There is an animated and a live movie version of Abu. Aladdin’s partner in crime reached high popularity. Some would argue even higher than Aladdin himself.
In the animated version, he is like Aladdin’s version of a Greek chorus. He constantly pulls faces and reacts to the action. Every now and then, he says a word.
But for the most part, he remains quiet in the first Aladdin movie. In the sequel, he got a bigger role to play. Yet, nothing compares to him being turned into an elephant during the first movie.
Unlike other famous monkeys on this list, Albert didn’t appear in any movies or videos. But Albert was the first primate astronaut. A rhesus monkey macaque, on June 11, 1948, Albert rode to over 63km (39miles) on a V-2 rocket. He died of suffocating during the flight.
What followed was Albert II, another primate who survived the V-2 flight. Yet, he died on the impact on June 14, 1949, following a parachute failure.
Albert and Albert II sacrificed their lives to the cause in the ensuing years. Albert II was the first primate to reach space, achieving an altitude of 83 miles (134km).
Marcel – Friends
Friends was such a popular show, they could make anyone a star. But Marcel was more than just a star. He was amazing in the short time he got on the show.
Marcel joined the gang for a New Year’s Eve episode. As the New Year approaches, the gang makes a pact to celebrate together at Monica and Rachel’s apartment. And they say “bring no dates”. But as the date approaches, every single member of Friends breaks the promise except for Ross. He brings in his pet monkey Marcel.
Ross then donated the capuchin monkey to a zoo after Marcel began humping everything in sight.
Years after, producers of the show said Marcel was unmanageable. His trainer had scratches all over his face. He had to scream instructions to the monkey while they were shooting scenes. In the end, the production decided to get rid of the monkey.
Did you know Donkey Kong is an older game than Mario? While many fans nowadays think Mario was the first hit game by Nintendo, it was actually Donkey Kong.
The ape predates Mario, Link, Sonic, and nearly every other video game character. Donkey Kong remains alive in games to this day. Some of his famous installments include Donkey Kong Country, Diddy Kong Racing, Donkey Konga, and many more.
The video game franchise starring a gorilla first appeared in 1981. To this day, he remains one of the most iconic mascots for Nintendo. For their 250th issue in January 2010, Nintendo Power ranked Donkey Kong as the eighth favorite Nintendo hero.
King Louie – The Jungle Book
A monkey that can sing, it can’t get any better than that. Louie sings, dances, and makes a lasting impression on fans in his quick screen time.
The swinging monkey had only one wish in the animated movie, to learn how to make fire. He thought by learning to make fire he can set the jungle ablaze and seize power.
But in the end, he didn’t make it. He can settle for being one of the most popular characters from The Jungle Book.
Many say Koko is the smartest ape ever. The Western Lowland Gorilla could understand more than 1,000 signs of the American Sign Language, as well as more than 2,000 words of spoken English.
Koko was a female gorilla, born at the San Francisco Zoo. She lived most of her life in Woodside, California at the Gorilla Foundation’s preserve in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Some people know her as Hanabiko. She touched the lives of millions as an ambassador for all gorillas and an icon for interspecies communication. Studies showed she has an IQ between 75 and 95.
During her life, she took care of three cats. But she was part of some controversy as well. Two women accused the nonprofit organization taking care of Koko of sexual harassment. They stated Koko demanded that they show their breasts.
Koko died in her sleep at the age of 46 in the Santa Cruz Mountains preserve in 2018.
Kong – King Kong
When you talk about famous monkeys, it is only fitting we finish off with a King. Kong is a giant gorilla monster, part of one of the most successful animal-based movie franchises.
His tale is amazing. He will go to the end of the earth for Ann, scaling even the Empire State Building. The original story came out in 1933. Since then, it has been remade twice, once in 1976 and once by Peter Jackson in 2005.
The last time we saw Kong was in the Kong vs. Godzilla billion-dollar movie. Kong is the World King of the Apes, the King of Skull Island, the Eighth Wonder of the World, and the Jungle King of the Hollow Earth.