I ran across some news this morning that absolutely floored me. I mean, I encounter a lot of information on the Internet, in periodicals and on TV, but I’ve rarely been as amazed as I was when I learned the chimpanzee who played opposite Johnny Weissmuller in the 1930s Tarzan movies died Christmas Eve, this past Saturday! Cheetah, who portrayed himself, was 80 years old! He outlived Tarzan (Weissmuller, 1904-1984), Jane (Maureen O’Sullivan, 1911-1998) and even Boy (Johnny Sheffield), who died last year at 79. Apparently, he and Cheetah were the same age. Cheetah lived in a primate retirement home in Palm Harbor, Florida. It was said he loved finger painting and seeing people smile.
I saw all the Weissmuller-as-Tarzan movies on television when I was a boy, and to me they’ve always been the genuine item. To think that little rascal Cheetah has been living quietly in retirement all these years. Is it just me?