The Art of “Who is Oliver”

August 19, 2010

For the “Who is Oliver?” web episode, several illustrations were created by three artists to tell help tell his story. Here are some of the illustrations created by Heyd Fontenot and Jimmy Tovar.


Oliver was said to exhibit human traits, like smoking a cigar while watching TV and drinking whisky. (Art by Heyd Fontenot)
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Unlike most chimpanzees, Oliver walked upright, which made him seem more human. (Art by Heyd Fontenot)
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Oliver was presented as being part human and part chimpanzee.
Here is Heyd’s rendering of Oliver’s visit to the Explorer’s Club in the 1970s.
(Art by Heyd Fontenot)
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Oliver was flown to Japan to appear on a television show that hoped to determine if he was indeed the “The Missing Link.” Publicity stills showed Oliver walking up the stairs to the plane and being seated in the main cabin. In reality, Oliver flew to Japan beneath the plane in a transport cage.
(Art by Jimmy Tovar)
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Oliver was said to be one chromosome closer to humans than other chimpanzees and he was often described in headlines as the “Humanzee” or “The Missing Link.”
(Art by Heyd Fontenot)
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Oliver appeared on Japanese television where scientists tried to determine the truth behind the “Humanzee.”
(Art by Heyd Fontenot)
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More than 20 million Japanese people watched the television broadcast about Oliver.
(Art by Heyd Fontenot)
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Not long after the stage lights dimmed, so did the public’s interest in Oliver.
(Art by Heyd Fontenot)
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Eventually Oliver was sold to an amusement park and then to a laboratory, where he spent seven years in a 4 ft. x 6 ft. cage.
(Art by Jimmy Tovar)
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