Charles Gemora

Carlos Cruz Gemora (June 15, 1903 – August 19, 1961), commonly known as Charles Gemora, was a former Hollywood makeup artist renowned as "the King of the Gorilla Men" for his prolific appearances in many Hollywood films while wearing a gorilla suit.[1]

Charles Gemora
Carlos Cruz Gemora

(1903-06-15)June 15, 1903
Negros, Philippine Islands (now Philippines)
DiedAugust 19, 1961(1961-08-19) (aged 58)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Years active1928–1958
ChildrenDiana Gemora


Gemora was born on the island of Negros, Philippines, and arrived in San Francisco as a stowaway. He quickly found work on a fruit farm in Colusa, California but later moved to Los Angeles. He earned money doing portrait sketches outside of Universal Studios where his talents were discovered and put to work in the studio's sculpture department for The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923). Gemora found his 5'4"/163 cm stature made him a natural to wear a gorilla suit, which he did, beginning with The Leopard Lady (1928).[2]

Gemora's study of real gorillas at the San Diego Zoo and his expertise on makeup gave him an extensive career as a gorilla opposite such luminaries as Our Gang (Bear Shooters), Lon Chaney (The Unholy Three), Bela Lugosi (Murders in the Rue Morgue), Laurel and Hardy, (The Chimp & Swiss Miss), The Marx Brothers (At the Circus), Bob Hope and Bing Crosby (Road to Zanzibar), The Great Gildersleeve (Gildersleeve's Ghost), Abbott and Costello (Africa Screams) and Robert Mitchum (White Witch Doctor).[2]

With men in gorilla suits no longer providing the same scares in the 1950s as they did in the 1930s/1940s, Gemora moved into science fiction films such as the Martian in War of the Worlds and I Married a Monster from Outer Space.[3][4]


Gemora died of a heart attack in August 1961 while he was working on the makeup for Jack the Giant Killer, which would have been his last film.[2]


  1. "Charlie Gemora, 58, had King Kong role". The New York Times. 20 August 1961. (subscription required)
  2. Charles Gemora on IMDb
  3. Johnson, John. Cheap Tricks and Class Acts, p. 167 (1996), McFarland.
  4. Thomas, Nick (26 July 2016). "Monkey business: Charlie Gemora designed Hollywood's most realistic gorilla suits". Archived from the original on 24 December 2016.
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