Peggy was born in Liberia in 1945.
Peggy made her film debut in 1948 in the film Jungle Jim starring Johnny Weissmuller and Virginia Grey playing Jungle Jim's faithful companion Tamba.
In 1951, Peggy was cast opposite Ronald Reagan in Bedtime for Bonzo. Professor Peter Boyd (Ronald Reagan) tries to teach a chimpanzee called Bonzo (played by Peggy) the concepts of right and wrong in an experiment regarding the merits of nature vs. nurture.
Peggy also appeared as herself on an episode of The Colgate Comedy Hour.
Peggy was very intelligent and had learned to obey 502 oral commands. Peggy was also a very talented chimpanzee. She could do flips in a crib, ride a tricycle, open doors, climb out windows, jump into and out of the back seat of an automobile, remove and replace a necktie.
Ronald Reagan once said that Peggy was a scene stealer, a joy to work with but very unpredictable. Peggy once grabbed Ronald Reagan's necktie and kept pulling almost strangling him.
Peggy was one of the highest paid animal actors in Hollywood, earning a weekly salary of $1000.
Peggy and Ronald Reagan were schedule to host the first PATSY awards in 1951, when tragedy struck.
The World Jungle Compound, where Peggy lived, a fire broke out. Peggy escaped the flames but was over come by smoke inhalation.
For 30 minutes, rescuers made a valiant attempt to resuscitate Peggy. Oxygen was administered and adrenaline was injected into her heart, all to no avail, Peggy died at the age of six.
Peggy's owner, Billy Richards, gave her body to chiropractor William H. Straughn of Sherman Oaks, who had trained at Los Angeles Chiropractic College in Glendale.
William Straughn donated the body to college anatomy professor and chiropractor Arthur Nilsson for use in comparative anatomy studies. It is said that Peggy's body “made an invaluable contribution to extensive research and study of comparative anatomy — a chimp with man."
After Nilsson’s research was completed in 1953, Peggy's skeleton was placed in a glass case in the college’s anatomical museum.
8 years ago