Bonzo the Phi Tau

The original film Bedtime for Bonzo starred future president Ronald Reagan, Diana Lynn and Akron's own Jesse White and was a big hit. The original film was billed as the funniest new idea since "Francis." Francis, if you don't know was a talking mule that got into all kinds of trouble.

The sequel to Bedtime for Bonzo was Bonzo Goes to College, produced by the Universal Pictures Co.

Reagan didn't appear in the sequel, so the bulk of the publicity fell on Bonzo's hairy shoulders. The Universal Pictures Co. movie featured Maureen O'Sullivan and Edmund Gwenn in a comic tale about a chimpanzee running off to college and playing football.

In September 1952, Bonzo and an entourage of his trainer Henry Tyndall, publicity agent Maurice Harris and the beautiful Hollywood starlet Helen Carr stayed at the premier Akron Mayflower Hotel.

The film premiered in Akron at the Palace Theater downtown on September 18. Bonzo the chimpanzee was billed and appeared ''ON STAGE!!! IN PERSON!!!'' between showings.

Joe Dick, an usher at the Palace Theater, and also a brother at the University of Akron Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity, arranged for Bonzo, along with Helen Carr, to visit the University of Akron.

Bonzo was dressed in a cap and gown, pledged, and inducted as a honorary pledge of Phi Kappa Tau.

Everywhere they went that day Bonzo drew large adoring crowds and was an instant hit.

"Going to UA was a total blast in the early 1950s", said Dick. One of Dick's claim to fame is that he created the original drawing of University of Akron mascot Zippy, a kangaroo with a sweater, beanie, boxing gloves and zippered pouch. More on that HERE!