Johnny Weissmuller

Johnny Weissmuller

Johnny Weissmuller will forever be remembered as the greatest film Tarzan of all.   He was born in 1904 in Austria.   He arrived with his parents in the U.S. the following year.   At the age of ine he contracted polio and his doctors advised swimming as a form of therapy.   He became so proficint at the sport that by his teens he had achieved a degree of fame as a sports athlete.   He competed and won gold medals for swimming at the 1924 Paris and 1928 Amsterdam Olympic Games.   In all he won five medals.   He signed a contract with MGM to make the Tarzan films in 1932.   The first film was “Tarzan the Ape Man” which featured Maureen O’Sullivan as Jane.   It is generally recogn ised that they were the test of the many whoo played the roles.   They made six Tarzan films together finishing with “Tarzan’s New York Adventure” in 1942.   O’Sullivan left to rear her family and Weissmuller continued the films with Brenda Joyce as the new Jane.   He also made a series Jungle Jim films.   Johnny Weissmuller died in Mexico in 1984 at the age of 79.

His mini biography by Ed Stephen:

Johnny Weissmuller was born in Timisoara, Romania, then a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, though he would later claim to have been born in Windber, Pennsylvania, probably to ensure his eligibility to compete as part of the US Olympic team.

A sickly child, he took up swimming on the advice of a doctor. He grew to be a 6′ 3″, 190-pound champion athlete – undefeated winner of five Olympic gold medals, 67 world and 52 national titles, holder of every freestyle record from 100 yards to the half-mile. In his first picture, Glorifying the American Girl (1929), he appeared as an Adonis clad only in a fig leaf. After great success with a jungle movie, MGM head Louis B. Mayer, via Irving Thalberg, optioned two of Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ Tarzan stories. Cyril Hume, working on the adaptation of Tarzan the Ape Man (1932), noticed Weissmuller swimming in the pool at his hotel and suggested him for the part of Tarzan. Weissmuller was under contract to BVD to model underwear and swimsuits; MGM got him released by agreeing to pose many of its female stars in BVD swimsuits. The studio billed him as “the only man in Hollywood who’s natural in the flesh and can act without clothes”. The film was an immediate box-office and critical hit. Seeing that he was wildly popular with girls, the studio told him to divorce his wife and paid her $10,000 to agree to it. After 1942, however, MGM had used up its options; it dropped the Tarzan series and Weissmuller, too. He then moved to RKO and made six more Tarzans. After that he made 16 Jungle Jim (1948) programmers for Columbia. He retired from movies to run private business in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

– IMDb Mini Biography By: Ed Stephan <>

This IMDB entry can also be accessed on lone here.

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