Oscar was a large brown capuchin monkey. He was holed up in a double-screened cage, at a pet shop near Santa Cruz. He had an unusually large mouth, and very formidable teeth. Like all monkeys, he began to become aggressive, when he reached maturity at about five years of age. He began biting his owner, and was placed with the pet shop. When Hurdy Gurdy took possession of him in 1973, a misunderstanding over ownership developed. Mr. Gurdy found himself in a lawsuit for custody, and the case was a front-page article. Eventually, Oscar was awarded to Hurdy Gurdy, and the entire episode became known as, “Winning an Oscar.”
After Oscar was “disarmed,” he became an extraordinarily loving friend, and entertaining performer. He too, would take money, shake hands, and kiss people. He was very fast at collecting money, and people complained that he wouldn’t accept pennies. This was only legend. Oscar actually concentrated on quarters and silver money first, then took care of pennies. When Clint Eastwood visited, the movie star only gave handfuls of quarters. Thus, Mr. Eastwood never ran into a “penny ante” problem with any of the monkeys. Oscar died after many loyal years of service, from a stroke or heart attack. He was nearly 40 years old. It broke everyone’s hearts who ever knew him.