Ron Harper from ‘Land of the Lost’ & ‘Planet of the Apes’ Dies at 91

Ron Harper, Roddy McDowall (1928 - 1998) and James Naughton on the set of the US television series, 'Planet of the Apes', USA, circa 1974. The science fiction series starred Harper as 'Alan Virdon', McDowall as 'Galen', and Naughton as 'Pete Burke'.
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Actor Ron Harper, best known for playing Uncle Jack on Land of the Lost, and astronaut Alan Virdon on the Planet of the Apes television series, has passed away at the age of 91. He reportedly died after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease-induced dementia. His daughter, Nicole Longeuay, first shared the sad news on March 21 and later confirmed that he died of natural causes at home.

She wrote, “It’s with a heavy heart that I must share the news of my father’s passing… He laid his head down to rest and never woke up again… Although it was not public knowledge, Alzheimer’s Dementia started to take his mind from him years ago, it’s hard to believe he is physically gone now too. I know he’ll be watching over all of us, until we meet again.”

American actor Ron Harper as Colonel Alan Virdon in the television series 'Planet of the Apes', 1974

Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Harper’s career essentially began with a chance encounter with scientist Albert Einstein who encouraged him to follow his dreams. He quickly began pursuing an acting career and studied with Lee Strasberg. His training was cut short when he was drafted into the Navy but returned to acting after being discharged and was signed with Universal to film three pilots, including the 87th Precinct.

Actor Ron Harper participates in The Hollywood Show held at Westin LAX Hotel on July 13, 2013 in Los Angeles, California

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However, his television debut began with Tales of Wells Fargo in 1960. Harper went on to appear in the third season of Land of the Lost, the drama Garrison’s Gorillas, the soap opera Generations, the Planet of the Apes television show, the comedy Wendy and Me, and more. In his later years, he retreated from public life and turned down a cameo in the 2009 film Land of the Lost because he felt the script wasn’t good enough. He officially retired in 2015 after his final role in the TV movie Kidnapped: The Hannah Anderson Story.

Harper is survived by his daughter, son-in-law, Daniel, granddaughters Ronnie and Harper, and his ex-wife Shirley. His first wife was actress Sally Stark. May he rest in peace.

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1970s Fall TV

September 2023

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