Video: Greatest American monkeys

Fame, is fleeting — just ask the man who was voted the greatest American an online poll just two years ago.

When the Discovery channel and our bud Matt Lauer recently listed off the greatest Americans, the individual in question didn’t even make the top five.  (Sorry Benjamin Franklin.  Better luck next year).

Ronald Reagan, our 40th President, was voted number the new one American of all time.  His 64 percent end-of-presidency public opinion poll approval rate was just one point behind that of Bill Clinton’s.  This lover of jellybeans was also the original choice to star in the movie "Casablanca," and the headliner in the film "Bedtime for Bonzo."

However, in a conflicting online poll conducted by the BBC, Homer Simpson took the top prize by a landslide.

History will decide who resonates more: the Gipper or Homer.  In the meantime, Countdown conducted their own poll, of sorts...  
The show pays tribute to the Greatest American Monkeys of all time, as voted by you (actually, as voted by us).  And when we say "monkey," we're including any apes, chimps or other animals that look like or dress up as monkeys.

10. Bonzo
As a Hollywood leading man, Bonzo wasn't exactly Brando.  A chimp named "Peggy” debuted in the Reagan film and the far less famous sequel "Bonzo Goes to College."  But, any monkey that got Top billing over the #1 Greatest American American of all time, gets on the Top 10 Monkey list easy.

9. Jay Fred Muggs
The first co-host of NBC's The Today Show. As Dave Garroway's loveable side-kick in the 1950s, Muggs was a television revolutionary and spawned 50 years of copy-cats.


8. Cornelius and Doctor Zaius of "Planet of the Apes"
Many of us have, at one time or another, put on the monkey suit to attempt to cash-in on America's love affair with Monkeys.  However, none delivered a more chilling vision of where that affair may lead than Cornelius and Doctor Zaius of "Planet of the Apes."

Honorable mention: Producers of "Trading Places"
They put a man in a monkey suit in a cage with another man in a monkey suit who is supposed to actually be a real monkey. 

7. Albert Six
A monkey who actually did something for his country — as the first American of any species to fly into space and return to earth alive in 1951.  He died two hours after his round-trip flight, but that's a minor footnote in his legacy. 

6. Grape Ape
The animated monkeys field is diverse.  Though as much as we love Magilla Gorilla, Mister Bananas, and the great Curious George, we could only choose one.  We went with "Grape Ape"  Why?  Because his name sounds funny.

5. The Smoking Chimp from the South African zoo


Sure, smoking is bad for you and he's a poor role model and not even American.  But you've got to admit there's a whole James Dean thing going with this monkey.

4. Clyde from "Every Which Way But Loose"
The best damn fighting orangutan of all the great 1970s movie monkeys.  And he did all his own stunts!

3. Mickey Dolenz
The only one of the "Monkees" who actually looked as though he might be part-Monkey.  He may not have had Davey Jones "cutes" or the rugged good looks of Michael Nesmith, but he had what the rest of them didn't: A car to get back and forth from gigs.

2. Donky Kong
He's big, he's bad, he stole Mario's girlfriend and now he's huckin' barrels like it's going out of style.  Born in 1981, he still lives in some pizza shops too cheap to upgrade...Donky Kong: a Great American Monkey.


1. King Kong
There's a reason they called him King.  He burst onto the scene in 1938, a true super-star.  King Kong dated all the hottest actresses, got invited to all the cool parties; he lived hard, died young and left a good lookin' corpse.  Ehh...Give or take.  In the pantheon of Great American Monkeys, only one is befit to wear the crown of "King".  It's King Kong: America's Greatest Monkey.

Watch 'Countdown' each weeknight at 8 p.m. ET

© 2013 Reprints


Discussion comments