Docs

The ape and the athlete

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.
March 1, 2004

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

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.

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