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Buck Kartalian was born in Detroit, Michigan and by the age of two he was restless and yearned for the big city. So, his family moved to New York City living on the lower east side amongst newly arrived immigrants from Italy, Greece, Turkey, Ireland etc. He had a wonderful childhood. His father made a lot of dough. He was a baker. It was a different time. There was radio but no TV. Through the kindness of the Episcopal church many neighborhood kids, including Buck went to camp every summer. The camp was in Ivoryton Connecticut near the Ivoryton Playhouse. Buck would be fascinated with the actors rehearsing on the lawn outside, little knowing that someday he would be performing at this very playhouse.

During World War II Buck was drafted into the Navy and served aboard a destroyer in the pacific. If you insist, he might tell you some war stories, When the war was over, Buck had no idea what he wanted to do for a living. While bumming around with some friends they noticed a doorway around Times Square that had a sign reading Bothners Gym, upstairs. So up they went and lo and behold there was a huge gymnasium with barbells for weightlifters, mats for wrestlers, and harnesses for learning front and back flips. Buck immediately joined the gym. Buck worked out with the weights, learning to do backflips, hand-balancing and tumbling. He got so good with the acrobatics that often he would be asked to fill in when someone got hurt. His physique developed so quickly that people were amazed. He entered the Mr. New York City contest and won, and next entered the Mr. America contest. He came close and was runner-up with a special award for best arms and chest.

One day Buck was wrestling with one of the professional wrestlers at the gym. He would do funny moves like dive under the wrestler's legs and leap on his shoulders, do a drop kick and a back flip. He was so quick the wrestler didn't know where Buck was half the time. Everyone in the gym gathered around howling with laughter. Suddenly, a huge man came up to Buck and said "Hey kid, I book wrestlers, want to wrestle professionally?" Buck replied that he was only 5' 3" and weighed 150 pounds, and didn't compare to the average wrestler in stature. The man said "Listen, you're a mass of muscle and you're also very funny." So soon Buck the wrestler was enjoying the roar of the crowd. He was booked as Mighty Mouse and the Perpetual Motion Man. Very soon he became a big favorite in nearby towns on the east coast.

One day about eight months later a couple of actors at the gym were going on an audition and asked Buck if he wanted to tag along. While waiting in the wings of the theatre a woman came up to Buck , handed him a script and said "You're next". Buck replied that he was just waiting for his friends. She looked at him and again repeated, "You're next".Shrugging his shoulders Buck walked onto a brightly lit stage with the laughter of his friends in his ears. The theatre was pitch black except for the light shining on him. A voice in the dark told Buck to turn to page 4 and read the part of Samson. Buck read and walked off the stage to his still laughing friends. The same lady asked him for his name and telephone number. Five weeks later after completely forgeting about the audition, Buck got a call saying that he had gotten the part in a Broadway show, "Romeo & Juliet" with Olivia DeHavilland as Juliet, Jack Hawkins as Mercutio and Buck as Samson.

After the show closed, a friend asked Buck if he was going back to wrestling, but the acting bug had bitten him, and acting was what he wanted to do. His friend mentioned that director Josh Logan was looking for replacements for "Mister Roberts", a Broadway show. Buck thanked him, rushed over to the theatre, where he auditioned and got the job. For two years he was with the National Touring Company of "Mister Roberts", playing a funny little tough guy called Insigna. After the tour ended, Buck repeated his Insigna role in Summer Stock theatres. Soon, he was asked to stay and do other shows, sometimes doing as many as seven shows in a summer.

Buck never took an acting lesson in his life. He learned by working in front of an audience.

The year was 1955, and Buck was off to Hollywood to work in the movie version of "Mister Roberts" with Henry Fonda. Buck is remembered in that movie as the sailor talking to James Cagney on the phone while the soapsuds envelop him in the ship's laundry.

Next was a Columbia picture called "Cell 2455" where he played chauffeur for the mob. Buck was concerned about the driving part because he didn't know how. An actor friend told him not to worry. "They just shake the car and make like it's moving". However, one nights, the director said he wanted the car to go about 60 mph and screech to a halt in front of the casino. He then looked at Buck and told him to get behind the wheel. Buck was stunned and replied "I don't know how to drive." The director told him to quit clowning and get behind the wheel. Buck finally convinced the director that living in New York he never had the need to drive a car. "Okay" said the director, "you've got 15 minutes to learn and then we shoot the scene."

Someone took Buck aside and showed him how to use a stick shift. With Buck behind the wheel, the other actors were scared to death. On "action" Buck did it on the first take, making it look even more dangerous. The frightened actors getting out of the car were a sight to behold. It was the most real moment in the film.

After staying in Hollywood for about a year, Buck returned to New York where he performed on Broadway with Lloyd Nolan, Tom Poston and Geraldine Page.

In 1961, Buck , his lovely wife Margaret and baby Aram moved to Hollywood to stay. He continued working in featured roles in TV and motion pictures. He also added two more kids to his resume, Julie and Jason. Jason is a writer and recently directed his own screenplay. Buck enjoys time with his family and has two grandchildren. Margaret is his biggest fan and severest critic.

A gala evening celebrating the 30th anniversary of "The Planet of the Apes" took place in Hollywood in 1998 where they showed the film on a wide screen. Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall , and many other stars were present. Buck spoke to Heston, reminiscing about the film. Heston had never seen Buck without his ape outfit during the shooting of the film. As far as he was concerned Julius was a gorilla. Buck remembers getting to the set at 20th Century Fox at 4 a.m. every morning for make-up. A mold was made of his face so that the appliance would fit perfectly. There is a scene that opens with Julius smoking a cigar. "That was my bright idea" Buck proudly boasts. Perhaps the most memorable line in the movie that always gets a chuckle is when Julius says, "You know what they say, Human See, Human do." While working on the film, Buck never dreamed how important a film it was to become. It is as popular today as when it opened 30 years ago.

Buck also has a funny scene with Elizabeth Hurley in Disney's "My Favorite Martian" opening in March 1999.

Buck agrees with Confucius who said "Find something you love doing and you'll never have to work a day in your life."

FILMS (Link to IMDB)


Pedestrian (2000) 
Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000)  Old Man
My Favorite Martian (1999)  Muscle Man 

Eight Days a Week (1997) .... Nonno
Rock, The (1996) .... Reverend
Josh Kirby... Time Warrior: Chapter 3, Trapped on Toyworld (1995) (V)
Big Girls Don't Cry... They Get Even (1991) .... Dog Owner
Real Men (1987) .... Produce Hawker
Gymkata (1985) .... The Kahn
Man with Bogart's Face, The (1980) .... Nicky
Outlaw Josey Wales, The (1976) .... Shopkeeper
"Monster Squad" (1976) TV Series .... Wolfman
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) .... Frank (Gorilla)
Please Don't Eat My Mother (1972) .... Henry Fudd
Goodbye, Raggedy Ann (1971) (TV) .... Tony
Blood Legacy (1971
Octaman (1971)
Myra Breckinridge (1970) .... Jeff
Stay Away, Joe (1968) .... Bull Shortgun
Planet of the Apes (1968) .... Julius
Acid Eaters, The (1967) .... Arty/The Devil
Cool Hand Luke (1967) .... Dynamite
Devil's Angels (1967) .... Funky
Sail a Crooked Ship (1961) .... Finster
Morituri (1965)
Mister Roberts (1955) .... Mason
Cell 2455, Death Row (1955) .... Monk

Notable Television Apperances
Jamie Fox Show
Here Comes the Brides
Lou Grant
Cagney and Lacy
Gallagher, Wonderful World of Color
Get Smart
Peyton Place
Gallant Men
Project 120
Arrest and Trial
"Life with Roger" (1996) playing "Dave"
"Monster Squad" (1976) series regular
"Goodbye, Raggedy Ann" (1971) Tony
"Wild, Wild West, The" (1965) in episode: "Night of the Pelican, The"
"Munsters, The" (1964) playing "Workman" in episode: "Underground Munster"
"Untouchables, The" (1959) playing "Al Gross" in episode: "Taste for Pineapple, A"

Live Television
Studio One
Ed Sullivan
Playhouse 90
Alcoa Presents
US Steel
Victor Borga Show
Armstrong Circle Theatre
Robert Montgomery

The Great Bandini
What Price Glory
Man's Best Friend
Detective Story
The Only Bathtub In Casis
Mister Roberts
The Tenth Man
Wonderful Town
The Wall
Can Can
One More River
Guys and Dolls
Golden Fleecing
Front Page
The Empress
Rose Tatoo
Romeo and Juliet
Teahouse of the August Moon

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