For many, actor Johnny Weissmueller is known by one name only, Tarzan. But, the man was much more than a single film character. Born into a poor family in Freidorf (now Romania), he won three gold medals for the U.S. at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, becoming the first man to swim 100 meters in less than a minute. Yet, after becoming a Hollywood sex symbol, Weissmueller found himself a prisoner of his own movie star identity, moving from his role as Lord of the Apes to that of Jungle Jim for both the big screen and TV. Labled one of the worst actors of all time, Weissmueller went through several marriages and eventually lost his fortune before dying in obscurity 20 years ago in Acapulco, Mexico.
Tarzan – The Hidden Story, a †260,000 (US$333,000) project by Frankfurt-based Westend Film & TV Produktion, is the first documentary to chronicle the life of Weissmueller. To tell his story, the filmmakers will use never-before-published photos, including images from the Olympics, his several marriages and his Hollywood days. Tarzan will also feature recollections of conversations Johnny Jr. had with his famous father, as well as interviews with Weissmueller’s wives and friends.
The 52-minute one-off is being coproduced by Brussels-based Periscope Productions and Timisoara, Romania-based Subcultura. Finnish pubcaster YLE is onboard, as is French/German network ARTE, and ZDF of Germany. Delivery is set for July. NR