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Gorilla suits are full-bodied costumes resembling gorillas. Gorilla suits have been used both to represent real gorillas in film and on stage, and also as a source of humour. The gorilla suit is a popular Halloween and masquerade party costume.
The early history of the art of gorilla impersonation dates at least to the late 1920s, with the rise of Charles Gemora, an early practitioner of the art in such short films as Circus Lady and the Our Gang entry Bear Shooters. In later decades, in addition to abounding in the Ape Woman films (consisting of Captive Wild Woman, Jungle Woman, and The Jungle Captive) and B movies such as Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla, the gorilla suit came to prominence in television, in a wide range of series, from 1960s sitcoms like The Addams Family (as seen in the episode "Morticia and the Ladies League") and The Beverly Hillbillies, which typically attempted to present their gorillas as "real," to more recent series such as L.A. Law and Scrubs, which have contrived to have regular characters don the primate costume.
In 1869, Noah Brooks' short story, "Mr. Columbus Coriander's Gorilla" appeared in Bret Harte's "Overland Monthly Magazine." The story concerned a young man employed at a menagerie dressed in a gorilla suit. It is mistakenly credited to Max Adeler.
In recent decades, the work of performers or designers have altered the mechanics and effect of gorilla suits, often using animatronics, taxidermy eyes, realistic fur, and other aides. Jim Henson utilized typical gorilla suits and never a full-bodied gorilla Muppet in several productions (like in Time Piece, The Cube, some episodes of Sesame Street, and the "Avery Schreiber" episode of The Muppet Show). The person inside the gorilla suit is often uncredited. Jim Henson's Creature Shop has contributed to this development in its own way, through work on Buddy, George of the Jungle, and MirrorMask. Many suit performers of Jim Henson's characters portrayed gorillas in other productions.
A gorilla suit is usually used to portray a gorilla in some episodes of Gilligan's Island.
Lego even has a minifigure called a Gorilla Suit Guy (a man in a gorilla suit) in series three of the Minifigures theme. This minifigure is in the same category as the Lizard Man (a man in a lizard suit), the Bunny Suit Guy (a man in a rabbit suit), the Chicken Suit Guy (a man in a chicken suit), the Panda Guy (a man in a panda suit), the Bumblebee Girl (a woman in a bumblebee suit), and the Piggy Guy (a man in a pig suit). The Gorilla Suit Guy made a cameo with the Lizard Man in Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Maximum Overload and they were also playable in Lego City Undercover.
National Gorilla Suit Day
In 1963, Don Martin published National Gorilla Suit Day in a collection Don Martin Bounces Back, in which Fester Bestertester mocks the (then fictitious) concept of a National Gorilla Suit Day, and suffers a series of incredible assaults from gorillas and other creatures in gorilla and other suits.
Subsequently, Don Martin fans have celebrated National Gorilla Suit Day on January 31.
A gorillagram is a gift message, similar to a singing telegram, but delivered by a performer dressed in a gorilla suit.
Many entertainment companies worldwide have offered gorillagrams and continue to do so. In Australia, the costumes include a heavy crash helmet, introduced after the recipient of one gorillagram, believing the gorilla to be real, rendered the actor unconscious by use of a typewriter (which was destroyed and the actor hospitalised). A gorillagram company run by Clive Gibbons has been an important plot element in episodes of Neighbours.
- "It's National Gorilla Suit Day - VIDEO". Aoltv.com. 2007-01-31. Retrieved 2012-02-29.