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Tarzan Was A World Class Athlete

Tarzan played by actor Johnny Weissmuller (Getty Images)

He starred as Tarzan in 12 movies between 1932 and 1948 and then 16 Jungle Jim movies after that. Today is the date in history when Johnny Wiesmuller set the then record for the 150-yard freestyle swim in 1925. Weismuller was a world class athlete who won a gold medal at the 1924 Olympics, then five more at the 1928 Olympics. In 1931, MGM cast him to play Tarzan the Ape Man and he kept himself in shape right thru the end of the series in 1948. The film series moved to TV in 1966.

All of the filming was done in North Hollywood bringing in truckloads of tropical plants and fruit trees.

A professional acrobat did most of the vine swinging stunts.

“Me Tarzan, you Jane” was never said in any of the movies.

Weismuller’s wife was paid 10-thousand dollars by MGM to divorce Johnny in 1932. They wanted him to be single for publicity purposes.

Cheetah the chimp for some reason didn’t like actress Maureen O’Sullivan who played Jane. Cheetah scratched her every chance he could.

The famous Tarzan yell…..

A lot of different stories on how it was made. It was partly Wiesmuller, but MGM came up with a story that it was the invention of engineers who blended in a hyena’s howl played backward, a camel bleat, the pluck of a violin and a soprano’s high C.

Another story is that it’s the recordings of three men – a baritone, a tenor and a hog caller from Arkansas.


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