Ronald Robert Harper (born 12th January 1936 in Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania) played Colonel Alan Virdon in the TV series Planet Of The Apes (1974). Harper began his acting career while studying at Princeton University. Following a stint in the US Navy, he moved to New York where he became Paul Newman’s understudy in Sweet Bird Of Youth. His first TV appearance, in the Kraft Theater drama Patterns (written by Rod Serling), was broadcast on his 19th birthday in 1955.
Following appearances in Tales Of Wells Fargo (1960), Wagon Train (1960) and The Tall Man (1961), Harper played regular character Detective Bert Kling in all 30 episodes of 87th Precinct (1960 – 61) and Lt Craig Garrison in Garrison’s Gorillas (1967 – 68). He was already a familiar face when he starred as Virdon in Planet Of The Apes (1974).
Among his other TV credits are Laramie (1960 and 1963), Cannon (1971), Where The Heart Is (1973), Land Of The Lost (1976), Remington Steele (1984) and Melrose Place (1995). Film appearances include The Soldier (1982), Below Utopia (1997), The Odd Couple II (1998), Freedom Strike (1998) and Pearl Harbor (2001).
Harper has stated that he would be prepared to reprise his role as Virdon “unless it was directed by Tim Burton”.
James Naughton (born 6th December 1945 in Middletown, Connecticut) played Major Pete Burke in Planet Of The Apes (1974). Naughton graduated from Yale in 1970 and went on to become a familiar stage presence in the early seventies. His first TV appearance was as Ben in the 1972 TV movie Look Homeward, Angel. Following his appearances in Faraday And Company (1973 – 74) and Mannix (1974) he was cast as Burke in Planet Of The Apes.
He went on to appear in many films and TV series including Barnaby Jones (1976), Making The Grade (1982), Trauma Center (1983), The Fall Guy (1983), The Glass Menagerie (1987), Brooklyn Bridge (1991 – 93), The Cosby Mysteries (1994) and Ally McBeal (1999 – 2001). Naughton appeared as William Van Der Bilt in 10 episodes of Gossip Girl between 2009 and 2012.
An accomplished singer, Naughton won a Tony award for Best Actor in a Musical, for City of Angels (1990) and Chicago (1997) and released the album It’s About Time in 2002.
Harper and Naughton with co-star Roddy McDowall (Galen)