Ron Harper, actor on TV's “Land of the Lost” and “Planet of the Apes”, dies at 91

He also played Peter Whitmore on "Generations."

Ron Harper, the actor known for his roles on the sci-fi shows Land of the Lost and Planet of the Apes, died Thursday of natural causes at his home Los Angeles. He was 91.

His daughter, Nicole Longeuay, confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter.

Ronald Robert Harper was born Jan. 12, 1933, in Turtle Creek, Penn. After high school, he studied at Princeton University on a scholarship and was awarded a fellowship to continue his studies at Harvard Law School, but he chose to pursue acting instead.

His first screen credit was an episode of the series Kraft Theatre in 1955. From 1959 to 1960, Harper, who had studied with Lee Strasberg, served as Paul Newman's understudy in Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth, directed by Elia Kazan on Broadway.

<p>CBS via Getty</p> Ron Harper in 1966

CBS via Getty

Ron Harper in 1966

Harper went on small roles in the series Tales of Wells Fargo, Thriller, Wagon Train, The Deputy, The Tall Man, and Shotgun Slade before nabbing a breakout role as Det. Bert Kling in 30 episodes of 87th Precinct, which also starred the likes of Norman Fell, Robert Lansing, Gregory Walcott, and Gena Rowlands.

His successful stints on 1960s television continued with two episodes of Laramie, 34 episodes of Wendy and Me as the husband to Connie Stevens' eponymous character, 12 episodes as Paul Marshall on CBS' The Jean Arthur Show, and 26 episodes as Lt. Craig Garrison on ABC's Garrison's Gorillas.

A few smaller roles followed, until Harper was cast as astronaut Alan Virdon in 1974's Planet of the Apes, a short-lived series that followed the original 1968 film of the same name. Two years later, he memorably played Uncle Jack on Land of the Lost during the NBC series' final season. In the early '90s, he played Peter Whitmore on the soap opera Generations.

Though he was mostly known for his television work, Harper's résumé on the film side included The Wild Season (1971), The Soldier (1982), Below Utopia (1997), Freedom Strike (1998), The Odd Couple II (1998), Pearl Harbor (2001), Glass Trap (2005), Touched (2005), The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007), and Woah (2013).

Guest stints later in his TV career also included Beverly Hills, 90210; Melrose Place; Walker, Texas Ranger; Boy Meets World; The West Wing; and Cold Case.

His final screen credits were as Gray in the 2014 short film Drink and as Ralph in the 2015 TV movie Kidnapped: The Hannah Anderson Story.

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