I recently took the time to re-watch Sunset Boulevard (1950). Thanks to this question for reminding me of it: biggest age gap between romantic leads . I'll try to refrain from gushing about how great I think this movie is, but rather I want to to talk about a rather throwaway plot point in the movie. Early on in the movie, the actress wants to have a funeral for her Chimpanzee movie star.

I consider Sunset Boulevard to be way ahead of its time, mostly because of how the movie portrays the unhealthy relationship between the male and female leads, but aside from that, it seems to be one of the first movies to make a statement on animal rights. I always found it extremely bizarre to use chimps in movies for comedic purposes. From future President Ronald Reagan in Bedtime for Bonzo (1951) all the way to Clint Eastwood in Every Which Way but Loose (1978), in my opinion it is just wrong to use animals like that.

Back in 1950, I consider the chimp funeral scene in Sunset Boulevard to be one of the first indictments on this type of comedy. I'm actually kind of disturbed that people still thought this was acceptable in 1978. When exactly did it become unethical to use chimps in movies like this, and when did the last major studio release a comedy starring a live Chimpanzee?

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    I'm not sure there is an answer to the "when did it become unethical" part of your question ... because theoretically its ethical today, as long as the American Humane society guidelines for primates are followed: humanehollywood.org/guideline/primate-guidelines .... its a grey area though because the kind of comedy you're referring to, I find it unlikely such guidelines could be followed completely accurately.
    – iandotkelly
    May 30, 2022 at 0:27
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    I'm pretty sure the rise of CGI coincided nicely with the reduction in use of animals. Call me cynical, but the easier it is to not use them, the more likely a movement to prevent their use rises to have a voice.
    – Tetsujin
    May 30, 2022 at 6:55
  • iandotkelly - That's a fair point, but you do have to admit that these types of movies fell out of favor with modern audiences. The question still stands, when did the last major studio release a comedy starring a live Chimpanzee? May 30, 2022 at 7:17
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    This will be kind of pedantic and I really do understand your meaning, but you DO realize Clyde was an Orangutan, not a Chimpanzee?
    – CGCampbell
    May 31, 2022 at 13:05
  • @CGCampbell. I did not know that, thanks for the info! Jun 1, 2022 at 18:45

1 Answer 1


It seems the Hollywood Reporter has already considered this…

The last Hollywood movie looks like being Wolf of Wall Street (2013).

The last Bollywood was Zero (2018)

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There is currently (May 2022) a documentary in production The Last Chimpanzee, starring Eli, the last working chimpanzee - now retired.

Because the Hollywood Reporter's article is mainly concerned with 'Hollywood trained' chimps, though it does mention the chimp in The Wolf of Wall Street was not Hollywood trained, this may not be the last ever.

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