linda harrison actress

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Linda Harrison Actress

Linda Melson Harrison, born on July 26, 1945, is an esteemed American television and film actress renowned for her roles in science fiction classics. She notably portrayed Nova in the iconic film “Planet of the Apes” (1968) and its sequel “Beneath the Planet of the Apes,” as well as making a cameo appearance in Tim Burton’s 2001 remake. linda harrison actress also graced the small screen as a regular cast member on the NBC television series “Bracken’s World” during the 1969–70 season.

Linda harrison actress , a Berlin, Maryland native, was the third of five daughters born to Isaac Burbage Harrison, a nurseryman, and Ida Virginia Melson, a beautician. Raised amidst a family with deep roots in the Delmarva region, her ancestral connections traced back to mid-17th century immigrants to Maryland. The Harrisons’ lineage included a rich history in horticulture, with her paternal grandfather and great-uncle establishing one of America’s largest fruit tree nurseries, J.G. Harrison & Sons Nurseries.

Following her introduction to film producer Richard D. Zanuck, whom she later married, Linda harrison actress embarked on her acting career with a seven-year contract at Fox Studios. As a part of the studio’s Talent Training School, she honed her craft alongside notable peers such as Jacqueline Bisset, James Brolin, and Tom Selleck. Under the guidance of esteemed coaches, Harrison immersed herself in a rigorous curriculum of drama, speech, fencing, and dance classes, shedding her Eastern Maryland accent with the help of a speech coach.

In addition to her contributions to the entertainment industry, Linda harrison actress is recognized as the mother of producer Dean Zanuck, further cementing her legacy in Hollywood.

Berlin, Maryland, U.S

Berlin, Maryland, U.S


Other Name

Date of Birth

Birth of Place








Notable work

Linda Melson Harrison

Augusta Summerland

July 26, 1945

Berlin, Maryland, U.S.

Stephen Decatur High School

Actress , model

U.S [3]


 Richard D. Zanuck

(m. 1969; div. 1978)


Nova (Planet of the Apes)
Beneath the Planet of the Apes


Following her meeting with Zanuck, Linda harrison actress signed Fox’s standard seven-year contract in November and entered the studio’s Talent Training School. Although Linda harrison actress joked that Zanuck had created the school to “keep an eye on me,” it was actually a revived Fox institution designed to train aspiring young actors and actresses under contract to the studio. Among her classmates were Jacqueline Bisset, James Brolin, Tom Selleck, and Edy Williams. Under the guidance of coaches Pamela Danova and Curt Conway, Harrison underwent rigorous training in various disciplines, including drama, speech, fencing, dance, and body movement, as well as attending lectures by industry veterans.

Harrison’s first role under her new Fox contract was as a “Biker Chick” in the TV pilot “Men Against Evil,” which later became the series “Felony Squad.” Her next assignment was in the “Batman” TV series, where she appeared briefly as a high school cheerleader in two episodes. Shortly after her appearance on “Batman,” Linda harrison actress was cast in ape makeup for a proposed film adaptation of Pierre Boulle’s novel, “Monkey Planet,” later released as “Planet of the Apes.” Although the makeup process was challenging, Harrison’s acrobatic background helped her endure the long hours of preparation. However, despite the successful makeup test, the studio initially rejected the project.

Meanwhile, in May 1966, Linda harrison actress  made her big-screen debut in “The Fat Spy” and subsequently appeared in the comedy “Way…Way Out.” She also participated in a screen test for a potential “Wonder Woman” pilot, although the project did not move forward. Additionally, she played Carl Reiner’s young love interest in “A Guide for the Married Man,” showcasing her versatility in various costumes and settings.

Planet of the Apes

Producer Arthur P. Jacobs initially considered former Bond girl Ursula Andress for the role of Nova, and extensive auditions were conducted, including one with Angelique Pettyjohn, known for her role as a warrior in the “Star Trek” episode “The Gamesters of Triskelion.” However, as late as April 17, 1967, Charlton Heston expressed concern in his diary about casting Nova, stating, “The casting problem’s really Nova: who will do it, and how naked can she be. The tests I saw were not good.” Eventually, Jacobs and Mort Abrahams were asked to consider Linda Harrison for the role.

Abrahams recalled, “[Dick] did it very nicely. He said, ‘I’d like you to consider Linda.’ Linda was in the acting school on the lot at that point, and about four or five times a year, the students performed live scenes on a soundstage, which producers and directors on the lot attended. So I’d seen her act, and I said to Dick, ‘We will be glad to meet with Linda,’ and Franklin Schaffner and I would chat with her and discuss the part, but that she would be treated like an actress, not as an affiliation with anybody else. And he said, ‘That’s the way it has to be.’ And we did, and we thought she was fine.”

In the 1998 AMC documentary “Behind the Planet of the Apes,” Linda harrison actress reflected on her portrayal of Nova, stating, “I thought about animal instincts, the way  would move and the way she would react would be more the way an animal would react, more from fear. It seemed to be what the director wanted.” Following her successful test, Harrison was cast in the role.

Mort Abrahams described Harrison as “delighted to get it, because she’d only done little tiny bit parts in a couple of pictures before that. I was pleasantly surprised by her. She called me one day and asked if she could bring her sister along with her onto location. I said, ‘Sure, of course, no problem.’ And I was delighted because she was going out with the head of the studio. She could have been the biggest pain in the ass alive. And I would be in a terribly awkward position if she started with the limousines and the special means and whatever the hell it is—or complaining about whatever. But never a peep out of her. Most pleasant, most charming, very cooperative, very hard-working.”

Filming for “Planet of the Apes” began on May 21, 1967, and concluded on August 10, 1967. The initial scenes were shot on locations near Page, Arizona, with Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River standing in for the Forbidden Zone. Linda harrison actress , accompanied by her oldest sister Kay on location, found the desert setting “beautiful” and was amazed by the logistics of moving an entire production.

Reflecting on her experience, Harrison noted, “I don’t know if people viewed me differently because I was Richard Zanuck’s girlfriend. I was so delighted and grateful to be in this picture that I probably never saw the negative side as much. I just didn’t. I remember one piece of advice Dick gave me: He said, ‘You go to work on time and listen to your director and do your job. And I don’t want to hear any complaints about you!’ I had to be even more careful and nice because I was his girlfriend.”

Entries in Heston’s journal on June 16, 1967, remarked on Linda H.’s challenges, noting Frank’s direction to keep her movements minimal in her scenes, which proved effective. Heston, aware that this was Linda’s “first big picture,” assumed the role of mentor, coaching her through her early days. While Linda admitted to being “camera-shy,” Heston instructed her on camera techniques, advising her to avoid direct eye contact and offering subtle adjustments for optimal angles. Their off-screen dynamic often mirrored their on-screen relationship.

Reflecting on her experience, Linda acknowledged Heston’s quiet demeanor and polite demeanor, particularly his encouragement to be camera-friendly. Despite her novice status, Linda sensed Heston’s support and gentlemanly demeanor throughout their collaboration, appreciating his guidance and unwavering faith in her abilities.

Acknowledging her newcomer status, Linda credited the seasoned actors for their support and guidance on set, recognizing their nurturing approach toward her as a young performer.

Kim Hunter recalled Linda’s dedication to her craft and her willingness to engage in conversation, reminiscing about their exchanges during breaks from shooting.

At one juncture, the storyline contemplated Nova’s pregnancy, leading to filmed scenes depicting her condition. However, these scenes were ultimately scrapped due to objections from higher-ups at Fox Studios, resulting in their deletion from the final cut.

Following the desert shoot, production shifted to Malibu Creek State Park, where Ape City was constructed, and pivotal scenes were filmed amid the picturesque backdrop. Linda particularly cherished the coastal scenes, finding them both scenic and memorable.

Reflecting on the film’s impact, Linda recognized its resonance with the socio-political climate of the era, addressing issues such as race and the fear of nuclear conflict.

“Planet of the Apes” premiered to critical acclaim and commercial success in February 1968. Linda, billed as “introducing Linda Linda harrison actress ,” captured audiences’ attention with her captivating presence and emotive expressions, despite having minimal dialogue.

The film’s success spawned multiple sequels, adaptations, and reboots, cementing its place in cinematic history. Decades later, Linda and her co-stars reunited for a 30th-anniversary screening of the film, celebrating its enduring legacy.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes

Linda Linda harrison actress  return to her iconic role occurred in the first sequel to Planet of the Apes. Reflecting on the experience, she candidly acknowledged that it didn’t quite match the quality of the original, attributing this disparity to budget constraints. While the original boasted top-tier talent in director Franklin J. Schaffner and cinematography, the sequel was produced with fewer resources.

At the time of the original film’s production, no sequels were planned. However, the unexpected success of Planet of the Apes prompted discussions about a sequel. Despite some reluctance from key cast members like Charlton Heston and Kim Hunter, and Roddy McDowall’s prior commitments, Linda harrison actress felt obliged to reprise her role due to her engagement to her mentor, Richard Zanuck.

Although her character, Nova, had a slightly expanded role in the sequel, the rushed production to capitalize on the original’s success led to disappointment. The budget was significantly lower, and director Ted Post was dissatisfied with the script, feeling it lacked clarity and depth.

Linda harrison actress role presented challenges, as the character was poorly conceived in the writing. Post had to devise actions to integrate her into the narrative, emphasizing her struggle to understand the communication from other characters, which Harrison executed admirably.

Despite the film’s flaws, Linda harrison actress co-star James Franciscus praised her bravery and professionalism on set. He recalled a particularly risky scene involving horseback riding, where Harrison displayed courage and determination.

Linda harrison actress herself reminisced about the enjoyable moments during the filming of the sequel, despite its physical demands. She appreciated the more relaxed atmosphere under director Ted Post and recalled one particularly exhilarating scene involving running down a hill at high speed.

Overall, while the sequel may not have matched the original’s success, it provided memorable experiences for Linda harrison actress and her colleagues, showcasing their dedication and resilience in the face of production challenges.

Bracken's World and wrongful termination suits

During the filming of “Beneath the Planet of the Apes,” Linda harrison actress  found herself cast as one of the trio of starlets in the Fox-produced NBC TV series, “Bracken’s World.” According to her, it was a project that producer Dick Zanuck had wanted to do for a long time. Juggling both projects, Harrison portrayed Paulette Douglas, a naive aspiring actress in the series, who navigated studio pressures while balancing a romance with a studio stuntman, played by Dennis Cole, her co-star from “Felony Squad.” The series also featured Jeanne Cooper as Douglas’s assertive mother. Harrison seamlessly transitioned into filming “Bracken’s World” immediately after completing her work on “Beneath the Planet of the Apes,” quipping about having to start remembering lines after a period of silence.

Linda harrison actress  was praised as “one of the most refreshing young faces” to grace TV screens that season. However, Fox publicists attempted to overshadow her lack of formal education by falsely attributing to her a passion for Shakespeare, Voltaire, and Aristotle. Despite initial success, “Bracken’s World” faced cancellation midway through its second season. Harrison attributed this to the studio’s insistence on featuring recognizable stars weekly instead of allowing the regular cast to develop as an ensemble, similar to shows like “Star Trek.”

Following the cancellation of “Bracken’s World,” Harrison became embroiled in the 20th Century Fox proxy shareholder war starting in December 1970. Her husband, Richard Zanuck, a majority shareholder along with his father, studio head Darryl Zanuck, and his mother, actress Virginia Fox, faced off against Darryl Zanuck after the studio suffered consecutive losses. In the midst of this, Darryl fired his son, leading to Linda harrison actress abrupt termination from her contract in January 1971. She, pregnant with her first son at the time, later sued for wrongful termination, breach of contract, alleged defamation, and infliction of emotional distress. The lawsuit, part of a $22 million suit filed by her husband, was eventually settled out of court, with the terms undisclosed.


In 1974, following a hiatus of several years, Linda harrison actress endeavored to reignite her career. Eagerly vying for the role of Roy Scheider’s wife in “Jaws,” she implored her husband to advocate for her. Despite her husband’s efforts, director Steven Spielberg favored actress Lorraine Gary, whom he had seen in a TV movie, “The Marcus Nelson Murders,” deeming her the perfect fit for the role. This decision left Linda harrison actress disheartened, feeling her spouse should have secured the part for her. As a consolation, Universal chief Sid Sheinberg, who was Gary’s husband, arranged for Linda harrison actress to play Gloria Swanson’s personal assistant, Winnie, in “Airport 1975.” Though Linda harrison actress cherished the opportunity to work alongside her idol, Charlton Heston, she admitted she would have preferred having “Jaws” on her resume. Reflecting on her time on set, Linda harrison actress  was captivated by Swanson, who openly shared intimate anecdotes, including her experiences with Joe Kennedy. Following “Airport 1975,” Linda harrison actress made guest appearances on various TV shows under the name “Augusta Summerland.” In the 1980s, she resumed her acting studies, ultimately securing a role in Ron Howard’s “Cocoon” after a successful showcase presentation. Linda harrison actress reprised her role in the 1988 sequel, “Cocoon: The Return,” although it failed to achieve the acclaim of its predecessor.

1990 to 2015

In 1990, Linda harrison actress returned to Berlin, her hometown, where she launched “Harrison’s Peach Tree,” a consignment shop located just half a mile away from her childhood home. After a few years, with the desire to be closer to her sons, she relocated to Los Angeles and acquired a real estate license, following in the footsteps of her eldest sister, Kay.

In 1995, Linda harrison actress  landed a minor role as the “Madam” in the film Wild Bill. Three years later, she made an appearance as herself in the Kevin Burns TV documentary Behind the Planet of the Apes, which delved into the production of the first five Planet of the Apes movies.

Her first experience at a science fiction convention occurred in October 1998 in New Jersey. Among the attendees were actors from the original Lost in Space TV series, Lou Ferrigno from The Incredible Hulk, and descendants of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. Harrison found the attention she received at the convention gratifying, especially after years of relative obscurity.

Over time, Linda harrison actress became a fixture at Planet of the Apes conventions, reveling in the appreciation for her work. In 2001, she made a brief appearance as the “Woman in Cart” in Tim Burton’s remake of Planet of the Apes. However, much of her footage ended up on the cutting room floor, resulting in a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo.

In 2013, Linda harrison actress embarked on the filming of Midnight Massacre, a post-apocalyptic thriller where she served as an executive producer and co-star. Loosely inspired by Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the film is set in the near future.


In 2008, marking the 40th anniversary of the release of Planet of the Apes, Linda harrison actress journeyed to Catalonia, Spain. There, on October 11, she received the Maria Honorifica at the Festival Internacional de Cinema Fantàstic de Catalunya, acknowledging her esteemed career.

Personal life

Linda Melson Harrison, a native of Berlin, Maryland, was the third child among five daughters born to Isaac Burbage Linda harrison actress , a nurseryman, and Ida Virginia Melson, a beautician. Growing up, she shared her childhood with two older sisters, Kay and Gloria, and two younger sisters, Jane and Joan. The Linda harrison actress family, like Linda’s maternal ancestors, had deep roots in the Delmarva region. Records trace the Melson family’s lineage back to mid-17th century immigrants to Maryland from Melsonby St James in North Yorkshire. On the other hand, the Anglo-Welsh Harrisons had a longstanding presence in West Kirby, Cheshire, with Richard Harrison, a direct ancestor, making the move to the New Haven Colony in what is now Connecticut in the early 17th century before settling in Maryland. Linda harrison actress paternal grandfather, Joseph G. Linda harrison actress , along with his older brother Orlando Harrison, played significant roles in establishing J.G. Harrison & Sons Nurseries, which, at its peak, stood as the largest fruit tree nursery business in America.

In her formative years, Linda exhibited a natural talent for performance, prompting her mother to enroll her in ballet and acrobatics classes at the tender age of five. Her flair for the dramatic blossomed further when, at just six years old, she began performing on stage. Linda attended Buckingham Elementary School in Berlin, following the footsteps of her mother and sisters. Her remarkable acrobatic skills earned her recognition, with a notable win at the Delmarva Chicken Festival Talent Contest at the age of eleven in 1956. Over the years, Linda’s passion for both performance and beauty pageants grew, culminating in her winning the “Miss Delmarva” beauty contest six years later in 1962.

Despite her early successes, Linda harbored aspirations of becoming an actress. Her plan involved winning beauty contests to gain visibility before venturing to California to pursue her dreams. After completing high school, Linda briefly attended the University of Maryland, College Park, and a secretarial school in Baltimore, but found herself yearning for more. Following her older sister Kay to New York City with just $250 and their mother’s credit card, Linda embarked on a journey to fulfill her ambitions. Although she experienced some success as a model in New York, Linda ultimately longed for her Maryland roots, prompting her return home.

Determined to pursue her acting dreams, Linda entered and won the 1964 Miss Delmarva beauty pageant as Miss Berlin, setting the stage for her entry into larger pageants. Representing Maryland in the Miss America pageant in 1965, Linda’s captivating presence caught the attention of talent agent Mike Medavoy, leading to her introduction to 20th Century Fox. A “personality test” arranged by Medavoy at Fox led to an option agreement, kickstarting Linda’s journey into the world of acting.

Her life took an unexpected turn when, prior to the expiration of her option agreement, Linda found herself attending the premiere of “The Agony and the Ecstasy” as the date of studio attorney Harry E. Sokolov. At the event, she met Richard D. Zanuck, Fox’s Vice President in Charge of Production, who would play a pivotal role in shaping her career and personal life.



Most frequent questions and answers

Linda Harrison, the actress, was born on July 26, 1945. 78 years 6 months 16 days

Linda Harrison is an American actress best known for her role as the character Nova in the original “Planet of the Apes” film series. While she did not appear in the movie “Cocoon,” she did star in its sequel, “Cocoon: The Return,” released in 1988. In “Cocoon: The Return,” she portrayed the character Susan. 5

Linda Harrison was indeed a prominent actress during the 1960s. She gained widespread recognition for her role as Nova in the original “Planet of the Apes” film (1968) and its sequel “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970). These movies catapulted her to fame, and she became an iconic figure in science fiction cinema during that era. While her filmography primarily centers around her roles in the “Planet of the Apes” series, her performances during the 1960s cemented her status as one of the notable actresses of the time.

Film and Television

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1966The Fat SpyJoseph CatesTreasure Hunter
1966Way…Way OutGordon DouglasPeggy
1967A Guide for the Married ManGene KellyMiss Stardust
1968Planet of the ApesFranklin J. SchaffnerNova
1970Beneath the Planet of the ApesTed PostNova
1974Airport 1975Jack SmightWinnie
1985CocoonRon HowardSusan
1988Cocoon: The ReturnDaniel PetrieSusan
1995Wild BillWalter HillMadam
2001Planet of the ApesTim BurtonWoman in Cart
2022Midnight MassacreTravis BowenQuinia Brutus

Television / TV

1966Men Against EvilPilotBiker Chick
1966BatmanThe Joker Goes to SchoolCheerleader II
1966BatmanHe Meets His Match, The Grisly GhoulCheerleader II
1967Wonder Woman: Who’s Afraid of Diana Prince?ShortWonder Woman – Reflection
1969The Tonight Show Starring Johnny CarsonWednesday, November 19, 1969Herself
1969–1970Bracken’s World41 episodesPaulette Douglas
1975Barnaby Jones“The Alpha Bravo War”Dori Calder
1976SwitchDeath SquadJill Martin
1977Barnaby JonesThe Damocles GunJan Redbow
1998Behind the Planet of the ApesTV documentaryHerself
2014Inside EditionEpisode #25.221Herself



Special Appearances









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