Origin of the cymbal playing toy monkey?

After seeing “Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonder” on MST3K again I got to wondering how and when the cymbal banging toy chimp got to be a cliché?

What company originally made it and when? Is it patented/copyrighted? Who first used it in a film/TV show?

I think we did this once, but I can attest to seeing it in the 1950’s on “The Ernie Kovacs Show.”

Take it from there.

samclem, was there a toy version in there somewhere or are you thinking of the percussionist from the Nairobi Trio? :smiley:

Larry. You’re right, of course. I just read too quickly. I wonder if that was the model?

I figured given the recency of the MST3K episode in question, I would come in and ask…

A Friend of mine said that MST3K “made” its videos to rip near the end of its run, she described this episode to a T with out naming it. Any Ideas on this? Did MST3K fake up some movies???

As someone who loves MST3K and has a lot of useless information in general…allow me to field this one (Finally, I contribute something to the board!).

MST3K (Mystery Science Theater 3000)'s producers (the now defunct Best Brains Inc.) only produced the theater riffing and the inbetween seguments (Host Seguments). All the movies were written/directed/funded by other people. At no time in the 11 year run (KTMA-Season 10) did BBI ever make a movie just to have it on MST3K. MST3K’s production costs were next to nothing (the biggest source of the budget went to securing the rights for the films)…so producing even one movie for their show would have broke the bank…let alone 13 (or 24) movies for a whole season. In fact, this (cost of movie rights) is the “official” reason the Sci-Fi channel cancelled MST3K (the unofficial reason is because it didn’t meet the channels 1999 interperation of science fiction, and that Bonnie Hammer and parent network USA wanted a “hard” Sci-Fi Channel).

However, if memory serves me correctly (I don’t have a cite but I vividly remember reading this) that the movie “Werewolf” (in 904: Werewolf) was a student film…and that the director felt it was so bad that it longed to be on MST3K, and since he himself owned the rights to the film he practically gave it to BBI. This was the closest thing to BBI producing a film for the sole purpose of being on MST3K.

Now BBI did make the MST3K: The Movie back in 1996…it was released onto DVD but sadly is in limbo right now…and MST3K Executive Producer (and occasional writer/performer) Jim Mallon made his own movie called “Blood Hook” in the 80s (prior to MST3K being created). Maybe these are what your friend is speaking of.

Also, before anyone asks about it…the reason MST3K never watched any “good” (read: known) movies was the cost to secure the rights to the films. They only got “Marooned” when it was re-edited and repackaged as “Space Travellers”, and it (as Marooned) won a Visual Effects Oscar in 1969.

Also, in the early 90s there was a group of fans who made some homemade MST3K episodes where they watched Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Highlander 2: The Quickening. People automatically assumed this was a real episode of MST3K. Which, of course, they weren’t.

I know this is off the OP but I felt compelled to answer this burning question about my favorite TV show.

      • I dunno, I am not old enough to directly remember anything about Ernie Kovacs, but I do remembr the cymbal-playing monkey toy creeping me the hell out in the movie “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind”.

It seems entirely possible that Kovaks used a cymbals-playing monkey at least once. I recall a bit he did where the 1812 Overture played while eggs were cracked, a mounted cow’s head swayed back and forth so that the bell around its collar rang, (except, of course, that this was silent footage) and (IIRC) a windup toy played a drum.

Monkeys playing instruments definitely predate the era of the battery-operated toy. A look at eBay shows clockwork monkeys which strum guitars, bang drums, etc. My WAG is that they go back at least to the 1920s.

“Lance-a-lot Link, alone, set us back a hundred years!”