The year I was born, one of the big stars of that fairly new medium television was a chimpanzee—J. Fred Muggs.
J Fred Muggs with Dave Garroway and Phoebe B. Beebee
J. Fred Muggs (born March 14, 1952) was the chimpanzee mascot for NBC's Today Show from 1953 to 1957. Dave Garroway's show faltered in the ratings race (there was one?), but with the addition of Muggs, viewership soared and ad money started pouring in. Muggs appeared—for obvious reasons—in diapers,
The Russian newspaper, Izvestia, described J. Fred Muggs, as "a symbol of the American way of life", and said, "Muggs is necessary in order that the average American should not look into reports on rising taxes, and decreasing pay, but rather laugh at the funny mug of a chimpanzee."
A finger painting by Muggs appeared on the cover of Mad #38, and was the first celebrity to be featured on the cover of that magazine. However, around that time the chimp bit Mad editor Al Feldstein, and was apparently blacklisted.
J Fred Muggs is now 61 years old and lives with his longtime girlfriend Phoebe B. Beebe in Citrus Park, Florida.