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Fascinating True Stories from the Flip Side of History

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The Most Beautiful Ape in the World Contest

 

Lastly, one of my favorite movies of all time is 1968’s “Planet of the Apes.” The movie proved to be so successful that four sequels were made in quick succession. As a promotional stunt for the fourth film, “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes,” a contest was held to find “The Most Beautiful Ape In The World.”

An advertisement in the June 10, 1972 issue of the Los Angeles Times reads, “Girls… 18 and over! Enter the most Beautiful Ape in the World beauty contest! Sponsored by Gary Owens of radio station KMPC. Monday, June 12, 1972 – Century City Mall, near Broadway Department store – 12 noon. Winner to receive a one-week film role in producer Arthur P. Jacobs’ next Apes film. Music! Stars! Beautiful Apes! Judges, from the newest Apes movie are Ricardo Montalban, Don Murray, Hari Rhodes and Natalie Trundy.”

Each of the contestants was required to wear hotpants or bikinis during the competition. In addition, the young women had to cover their faces with an ape mask and were “judged solely on the basis of their figures and ability to climb trees.”

The winner of the contest, 24-year-old Dominique Green of Malibu, California, was guaranteed a one-week contract to appear in the fifth movie, 1973’s “Battle for the Planet of the Apes,” $350 in cash (approximately $2,150 today), and supposedly all the bananas she could eat.

So, did this make Ms. Green a movie star? According to the Internet Movie Database, the only film that she appeared in was “Battle for the Planet of the Apes.” Her role is listed as “Female Ape (uncredited).”

Colorized photograph of Gary Owens hosting the Most Beautiful Ape contest. Contestant number 2, Dominique Green was named the winner.
Colorized photograph of Gary Owens hosting the Most Beautiful Ape contest. Contestant number 2, Dominique Green was named the winner. Original black and white image appeared on page 87 of the June 15, 1972 publication of the Los Angeles Times.

Wrote Will on the Back of a Wall Calendar

 

When Walter C. Wyland died on September 3, 1954 at the age of 42, the will that he had written way back in 1936 left nothing to Mrs. Doris M. Vroubel, who was his fiancée at the time of his passing. A widow, she lived right across the street from Mr. Wyland at 965 S. Catalina St. in Los Angeles, California.

One day, she was about to discard a 1953 calendar that had been hanging on the wall of Mr. Wyland’s home at 962 S. Catalina, when she noticed some writing on it. Penciled on the back of the calendar was Mr. Wyland’s will, which he had penned two days prior to his death. In it, he left all of the money that he had saved to Mrs. Vroubel. The catch was that it was not all in one account. Instead he had opened 102 bank accounts all over the world, including such faraway places as Honolulu and Manila in the Philippines. None of the accounts were overflowing with money. The Hawaiian account had $1.57, another in Salt Lake City contain $8.45 while one in Glens Falls, New York held $2.67. In total, the 102 accounts added up to less than $400 (that would be approximately $3775 today.)

Strangely, he had never been to many of these places and opened most accounts by mail. The good news was that while Mr. Wyland didn’t save much, he had set up a number of life insurance policies. His newly penned will, which was viewed by the courts as a codicil or addendum to his previous will, coupled with all that insurance money, provided Mrs. Vroubel with $20,000 (nearly $190,000 today).

He also named her 18-year-old son Maurice Vroubel as beneficiary to policies that yielded another $9500 (nearly $90,000 today).

Interestingly, his original will left just one dollar each to his father, mother, four sisters, and two brothers. The will that he wrote on the calendar confirmed these same meager amounts, but it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. Additional insurance policies bequeathed to them an additional $30,000 ($283,000 today).

Walter C. Wyland's will was found written on the back of a wall calendar. His money had been deposited in 102 bank accounts around the world.
Walter C. Wyland’s will was found written on the back of a wall calendar. His money had been deposited in 102 bank accounts around the world. (1905 Metropolitan Racing Calendar is from the Library of Congress.)

Murder in the Mail

 
Useless Information Podcast

On an October day back in 1941, John Kmetz received a trial supply of herbal pills that would supposedly restore vitality to his 54-year-old body. Shortly after taking the pills, Kmetz was dead. Learn about the man suspected of the crime, another bizarre event that occurred prior to the murder, and his ultimate fate.

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