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Creator / Johnny Weissmuller

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"The director sent for me for Tarzan. I climbed the tree and walked out on a limb. The next day I was told I was an actor."

Johnny Weissmuller (born Johann Peter Weißmüller; June 2, 1904 – January 20, 1984) was an Austrian-Hungarian swimmer who was regarded as one of the fastest swimmers in the 1920s.

He won five Olympic medals and one bronze one for water polo at the Olympic Games of 1924 and 1928. During the 1930s he became world famous as Tarzan in the eponymous film series. Despite being the sixth actor to perform the role on screen and having several other actors play the part in the decades after that, he is still considered the most iconic Tarzan actor of all time. He played the character in 12 films and also invented the world famous Tarzan yell, which is still used to provide a Shout-Out to him when performing a Vine Swing.

He was married five times, the second time with Lupe Vélez from 1933 to 1939.



  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: The famous phrase Me Tarzan, you Jane was never uttered in the books, nor on film. Weissmüller simply said Tarzan. Jane.
  • Careful with That Axe: Weissmüller's yell.
  • Dumb Muscle: Weissmüller portrayed Tarzan as a brawny savage primitive man who spoke little human language. This is in high contrast with the original books, where Tarzan is actually very articulate.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Weissmüller once disciplined an uncooperative chimp by hitting it on the head with a prop knife, then beckoned the chimp to hug him. The chimp did as instructed and subsequently followed Weissmüller around like a pet for the rest of the films that particular chimp was used on, never giving Weissmüller himself any trouble.
  • Hulk Speak: Weissmüller played Tarzan this way.
  • I Am Not Spock: Subverted. Since Weissmüller was already world famous as a swimmer in the 1920s he was one of the few character actors whom most people could immediately identify by his real name.
    • But he did let a sound recording of the Tarzan yell play during his own funeral, as the coffin was lowered into the ground.
  • Jungle Princess: Maureen O Sullivan in the movies.
  • Kiai: His Tarzan yell may count as one.
  • Loincloth: Weissmüller showed off his magnificent muscular body, but naturally hid the rest behind his loin cloth in the movies.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Cheeta the chimpansee.
  • Primal Chest-Pound: Did this in all his Tarzan movies.
  • Shout-Out: He appears on the album cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles, behind Ringo.
  • Signature Roar: His Tarzan yell.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: After playing Tarzan in 12 moves he went on to play Jungle Jim, also a white Nature Hero orphan living in the jungle.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: Weissmüller took up swimming on the advice of his doctor, because as an infant he was diagnosed with polio.
  • Vine Swing: Popularized it.