Actress Linda Harrison shot to fame for her role as Nova in the 1968 science fiction film classic “Planet of the Apes.” The role brought her to international stardom and was the beginning of an extremely successful career in Hollywood.
She followed up her role in the movie when she also starred in its first sequel, “Beneath the Planet of the Apes.” Additionally, Harrison was a regular cast member on the NBC series “Bracken’s World,” and appeared in a number of other movies and television series from the 1960s onwards.
A classic beauty, Harrison was first noticed for her stunning features but she managed to establish herself as a talented actress over the years. In an interview with The Forbidden Zone, Harrison spoke about wanting to be an actress ever since she was a little girl. She said: “I felt the need to do it, however that comes into your consciousness. It came into mine at a very young age.”
She appeared in beauty contests in her youth and that proved to be the stepping stone she needed to get her foot in the door in Hollywood. She said in the same interview:
The beauty contests back then were really stepping stones. At that time, a lot of the people who won were taken to studios, given screen tests, and had a chance to be put under contract. It didn’t happen to that many people. Luckily for me, that was the route I was able to take.”
A true stunner back in her heyday, Harrison is still absolutely breathtaking today at 77 years old. She’s led a wonderfully successful life, and she is still acting in the industry. Read on to find out more about this accomplished actress.
According to IMDB, Harrison was spotted by talent scout Mike Medavoy at a beauty pageant and went for a screen test at 20th Century Fox — now known as 20th Century Studios. After she met film producer Richard D. Zanuck – whom she later married and divorced – Harrison began to work harder than ever before to become an actress and enrolled in drama classes and speech classes. Soon after that, she signed a seven-year contract with the film studio and also began to obtain small roles.
One of her jobs included a part in “A Guide for the Married Man, which was directed by Gene Kelly. She also appeared in a few episodes of “Batman,” which starred Adam West. But it wasn’t long before the starlet finally got her big break in the late ’60s.
Harrison’s big turning point in her career was when she landed her most notable role as Nova in “Planet of the Apes,” a role that she reprised in the film’s sequel, “Beneath the Planet of the Apes.” The movie also starred Charlton Heston and was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. The film was commercially successful and featured groundbreaking prosthetic makeup, for which it became well known. In conversation with Crazed Fanboy in 2003, Harrison reminisced on her time in the films and explained how she had a hunch they would be successful:
In 1990, after her acting career slowed down, Harrison moved back to her hometown of Berlin and opened a consignment store that she named “Harrison’s Peach Tree.” However, after some time she wanted to be closer to where her sons were, so she moved back to Los Angeles. She obtained a real estate license and occasionally acted in small roles.
Then in 1998, Harrison went to a science fiction conference in New Jersey and discovered a whole new world, one in which her previous work was highly regarded. The event was also attended by fellow actors, including the original “Lost in Space” cast, as well as Bela Lugosi Jr. and Sara Karloff. She explained how she enjoyed the experience:
“I did my first convention last year at Chiller. It’s just very rewarding when you really haven’t done anything for a number of years and then, all of a sudden, people want your autograph. It was very gratifying. I like it. It’s very good. You’re being appreciated for your work.”
This led Harrison to become a regular feature of “Planet of the Apes” conventions, which she has attended ever since. When asked what she thought of fan sites dedicated to the franchise that made her a star, as well as her own use of the internet via her official website, she said:
“I think they’re neat. Of course, I’m partial to (the movie) Apes, but I still find I’m surprised all the time. I’m amazed that this one film has such a power and an interest. I’m enjoying my website and I love to see the pictures go up, and especially reading the E-mail, because it relates directly to me. Anything that is a positive about yourself is very rewarding.”
In another interview, she called herself a “convention celebrity” and said she tried to make it to one show each month. She described the fans as “very” receptive, “more than I ever imagined.”
Then in 2008, Harrison was honored for her career. Coinciding with “Planet of the Apes”‘ 40th anniversary, she received the Maria Honorifica at the Festival Internacional de Cinema Fantàstic de Catalunya in Catalonia, Spain. Harrison’s link with the “Planet of the Apes” franchise is clearly one that she holds dearly. Just before Hollywood rebooted the franchise in the early 2000s, she gave her opinion about the direction she’d like to see the movies go in:
“What I would like to see is that there is a falsening of man, then he redeems himself and builds a better society. He finds that all the wars and the bloodshed were very futile, and that apes and humans must live together peacefully … That’s what should emerge in the remake. We begin to see that we are more alike than un-alike.”
Busy with conventions, Harrison has otherwise kept a low profile with her acting in recent years, but she hasn’t totally given it up. Her most recent acting and producing credit was for the film “Midnight Massacre,” which IMDB reported was released in 2021. She has no other projects listed on the website currently, but who knows what she has in store in the future.
Nowadays, Harrison is 77 years old but her looks have certainly not faded. Once recognized as a beautiful actress known for her striking appearance and hourglass figure, Harrison is still absolutely gorgeous as a septuagenarian. She is a proud mother of two and is still finding bursts of success as an actress and producer.