Escape From the Planet of the Apes actor Bradford Dillman dead at 87

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Jan 22, 2018

Bradford Dillman was not a household name, but with over 100 film and television roles to his credit, he has probably played on your household television a few times. The actor died of complications of pneumonia on Jan. 16, in Santa Barbara, California, at age 87.

Born in San Francisco in 1930, Dillman got his start in local theater before attending Yale. He joined the Marines and served in the Korean War before returning to acting as his full-time profession. He played Edmund Tyrone in the original Broadway production of A Long Day's Journey Into Night before finding success on the large and small screen.

Early in his career, Dillman starred in Compulsion alongside Dean Stockwell and Orson Welles, a legal thriller based on the real-life Leopold-Loeb murder case. His first major genre role came in 1971, when he played Dr. Lewis Dixon in Escape From the Planet of the Apes, a sympathetic ally to Cornelius and Zira.

From there, other notable genre roles for Dillman included 1971's The Mephisto Waltz and The Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler; 1974's A Black Ribbon for Deborah; 1975's Bug; Irwin Allen's 1978 killer bee flick The Swarm; and Joe Dante's 1978 film Piranha.

On the small screen, Dillman had an equally impressive genre resume, including two episodes of both The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Thriller; and episodes of Night Gallery, Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk, and Fantasy Island.

In addition to his prolific acting career, Dillman wrote two books: a football fan book, Inside the New York Giants, in 1995, and an autobiography, Are You Anybody? An Actor's Life in 1997. He is survived by five biological children and a stepdaughter, who he was fond of calling his "six Oscars."