×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Koko, Signing Gorilla Who Met Robin Williams and Betty White, Dies

Koko, the gorilla who learned more than 1,000 signs, played with Robin Williams, and was the subject of a Barbet Schroeder documentary, died on Tuesday, the Gorilla Foundation announced.

She was 46 and lived at the foundation’s headquarters in Woodside, Calif. When she appeared on the cover of National Geographic in 1978, the world was stunned to learn of the western lowland gorilla’s ability to learn numerous signs from psychologist Dr. Francine “Penny” Patterson, who was working on a language project.

Koko was born at the San Francisco Zoo and Patterson brought her to the foundation for her project. She also understood spoken speech.

That same year, Schroeder filmed her for the feature docu “Koko: A Talking Gorilla,” which played in Un Certain Regard in Cannes.

She appeared again in National Geographic with her kitten All-Ball, which became the subject of a popular children’s book. Koko was the subject of several other documentaries, including 2016’s “Koko: The Gorilla Who Talks to People.”

She hung out with Williams in 2001, and when her caretakers informed her of his 2014 death, she seemed to be visibly upset. She also guested on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” an encounter which was excerpted in the current documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

In 2004, she met Betty White, who was on the board of directors of the Gorilla Foundation. She was said to enjoy many TV shows and movies, including “Golden Girls” and “Pretty Woman.”

More Film

  • WGA Awards 2019 Winners

    WGA Awards 2019: Bo Burnham Wins Original Screenplay Award for 'Eighth Grade'

    In a stunning upset, Bo Burnham has won the original screenplay award for “Eighth Grade” from the Writers Guild of America. He credited star Elsie Fisher with him winning the award. Burnham won over Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma”; Adam McKay’s “Vice”; Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, and John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place”; and Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, [...]

  • Alita Battle Angel

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' No Match for China's 'Wandering Earth' Overseas

    Hollywood movies like “Alita: Battle Angel” and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” are doing respectable business overseas, but they’re proving no match for foreign titles at the international box office. The Chinese New Year is bringing in huge business in the Middle Kingdom. China’s sci-fi epic “The Wandering Earth” pulled in a [...]

  • ABA_062_DAU_0060_v0409.87501 – Rosa Salazar stars as

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' Wins Dismal President's Day Weekend

    Fox’s sci-fi adventure “Alita: Battle Angel” dominated in North America, but its opening weekend win isn’t leaving the box office with much to celebrate. Tracking services estimate that this will be one of the lowest grossing President’s Day weekends in years. Ticket sales are on pace to be the smallest bounty for the holiday frame [...]

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Oscars Placeholder

    Make-Up and Hair Stylist Guild Applauds Academy's Stance on Airing Every Oscar Winner

    Rowdy boos were followed by triumphant cheers at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards on Saturday in Los Angeles, as the Hollywood union touched on a week of controversy over a reversed decision to hand out four Oscars during the show’s commercial breaks. Hair and makeup was one of the four categories that would [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • Bette Midler

    Bette Midler to Perform on the Oscars (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bette Midler will perform “The Place Where Lost Things Go” at the Oscar ceremonies on Feb. 24, Variety has learned. Midler, a longtime friend of composer-lyricist Marc Shaiman, will sing the song originally performed by Emily Blunt in “Mary Poppins Returns.” The song, by Shaiman and his lyricist partner Scott Wittman, is one of five [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content