He Makes a Monkey Out of Himself By Jack B. Kemmerer a man makes a monkey of himself it usually means that he has pulled some fool trick something that he was given credit for ha'ving too much sense to do. This isn't the case with Janos Prohaszka of Budapest, Hungary, however. He makes a monkey out of himself every day, in fact, that's his job and Janos has performed his "Coco the Charming Chimp" act in almost every country in the world. Janos Prohaszka has perfected his art of impersonating a chimpanzee to such a degree that on occasions he has actually fooled real chimpanzees. Short --stocky--muscular, Janos took up acrobatic work when just a boy in Budapest, Hungary. One day. while at the circus with his father, Janos saw an act of trained chimpanzees. "They were so intelligent," Janos recalls. "I was amazed at their almost human ability to do things. The acf aroused my curiosity in chimps to such a degree that I began going to the zoo to study their actions." JAN'OS' FIRST IDEA was to get together a chimpanzee act of his own but during his research of the friendly little animals he discovered that if he did get an act he would be constantly replacing his actors and training the replacements. While the chimpanzee has made itself world-famous by its sheer force of intellect -- it doesn't remain that way (luring its entire life span -about 15 years in captivity. In its first few years a chimpanzee learns even quicker than a child of the same age. At the age of seven, however, its ideas appear to become fixed, its capacity for learning ceases, and as a pet or show animal its value quickly deteriorates. "I suddenly got the idea," Janos said, "why not be a chimpanzee myself and thus eliminate training of the replacements?'' So, in 1937 in Budapest, "Coco the Charming Chimp" was born and today, 21 years later, 38-year-old Janos Prohaszka can look back on many pleasant memories of the people, especially children, that have seen and applauded his act throughout the world. "DECIDING TO BECOME a chimp was one thing -- actually becoming one was another," Janos said. "I soon found that even my extensive training as an acrobatic was only the beginning in trying to impersonate a chimp. They do things with their muscular bodies that is practically impossible for a human to imitate with any great degree of success." His second major problem was obtaining a realistic chimp costume. There wasn't a one to be found in the whole of Europe so Janos decided to make his own and almost a year passed before Janos was ready for his first booking -the beginning of an active career. After World War II, Janos was un(Continued on Page 19) femes Prohaszka is able lo impersonate a chimpanzee with amazing accuracy because of long study, acrobatic training, suit he made himself. Photos by the Author Man or monk? "Must be man," says Prohaszka, "I have to pay taxes," Cats don't waste any affection on Simians--at least, this Siamese latten would -rather be elsewhere than associating with Coco, and tries vainly to free'her tail from chimp.
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