Addenda: There’s now some debate over whether the chimp who expired over the Christmas holiday was the real Cheeta or even ever got near a Hollywood soundstage.
The Miami New Times reports:
<To hear the story repeated from fine bastions of journalism like the New York Times, NPR, and CNN, you'd be lead to believe that the chimpanzee who played Cheetah, Tarzan's ape companion in the famed 1930s movie series, recently died in an animal sanctuary in Palm Harbor, Florida. Don't believe everything you read because there's actually little to no evidence that this chimp ever starred alongside Tarzan.
The story originated from The Tampa Tribune. Yes, a chimpanzee who lived at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor Florida died. Yes, his caretakers believe that he starred in the famed early 1930s Tarzan movies starring Johnny Weissmuller. No, there’s little evidence backing it up./em
Read the full story here
One Of Hollywood’s Oldest Stars …
… has gone on to the Great Jungle in the Sky.
Cheeta, the chimpanzee who starred alongside Johnny Weismuller and Maureen O’Sulivan in the great Tarzan movies of the 1930s, has died. He was 80 years old.
According to published reports, Cheeta died of kidney failure on Dec. 24 at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, Fla., where he’d been living out his retirement.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Debbie Cobb, the director of the sanctuary, said Cheeta enjoyed finger-painting and seemed attuned to human feelings. He came to the sanctuary from Weismuller’s estate in the 1960s, the newspaper reported.
You can see a quick retrospective of Cheeta’s life and work here.