The Official KRESKY Homepage

Cap'n Ruggles

Born: 195? South America.
Died: September 22, 1997.

In 1958, Hollywood animal trainer Kirk McHoul stumbled across a young capuchin monkey in a Colombian animal market and immediately knew that he had found an animal with star potential. The simian was sprightly and clever, and struck up an instant rapport with McHoul. Charmed, the trainer snatched up the little fellow for a mere 25 dollars and smuggled him into the US by ocean liner. Taking the name of the ship's captain, McHoul dubbed him Cap'n Ruggles -- and so began one of the most amazing animal actor stories in the annals of Hollywood.

Moochie (b. 195?, d. 1997)
At the time, McHoul was working on a show called Jungle Dan and was looking for a new animal to serve as a comic sidekick for the star. Even with his limited training, Cap'n Ruggles took to performing like a fish to water. A born scene-stealer, Ruggles went on to appear in a myriad of other shows, including Daktari, Mission: Safari, Gilligan's Island, The Tarzan/Dracula/Sherlock Holmes Mystery Hour and Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp, as well as films like Borneo: A Love Story, the remake of King Kong and Speedtrap Blues.

But it was the Moochie role late in his career that turned Cap'n Ruggles into a star. Although he appeared in only 11 episodes, the little monkey stole viewers' hearts and became a cross-media sensation, inspiring a dance craze called the Moochie and the animated spin-off Moochie and the Kawp Skwawd. For a time in the early 80's, Cap'n Ruggles had the number two top selling animal poster, second only to Benji.1

What makes Cap'n Ruggles' acting career truly noteworthy is its incredible longevity. Although capuchin monkeys typically enjoy a lifespan of 40-45 years, they generally exhibit only a very limited period of usefulness as performers before they become too aggressive to handle. Cap'n Ruggles worked in Hollywood for an amazing 21 years before he finally became too cantankerous to perform. Unfortunately for Terrence Matterly, the monkey's antisocial behavior began to manifest during his time on Kresky. The pint-sized actor started to air his grievances with his human co-star by biting and urinating without warning. After a long and illustrious career in Hollywood, it was finally time for Cap'n Ruggles to retire.

In 1981, McHoul tearfully admitted Cap'n Ruggles to Southern California's Ventura County Reserve for Animal Actors, a lush 80 acre property where the monkey would be free to roam the treetops and socialize with his own kind. And socialize he did. Over the next sixteen years, Ruggles mated with a number of females of his species and, by the time of his death, had assembled a quite extensive "harem" for himself. In late September of 1997, Cap'n Ruggles, the simian luminary of large and small screen, passed away peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by friends, family and well-wishers. He was estimated to have been approximately forty-two years old.

1 Peacock, Herb. Poster Industry Times vol 3, Number 7 1983; pp. 17, 18.

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