Skip to comments.Cheeta, chimpanzee and Tarzan movie star, dies at 'roughly 80'
Posted on 12/27/2011 11:28:26 PM PST by Free ThinkerNY
Cheeta the chimpanzee, who starred in Tarzan movies alongside Olympic swimmer-turned-actor Johnny Weissmuller in the 1930s and ranked #1 on EW.coms list of the 10 Best Monkeys at the Movies, died of kidney failure Saturday. According to the Suncoast Primary Sanctuarys outrach director, Cheeta was roughly 80 years old, loved fingerpainting and football and was soothed by nondenominational Christian music.
Roughly 80?! Way to live, chimp! Thats amazing! (Cheeta was an anomaly; the average zoo chimp dies around age 35-45.) I sure hope my favorite chimp lives that long.
(Excerpt) Read more at popwatch.ew.com ...
But he wasn’t a zoo chimp. He worked for a living and learned things during his lifetime.
What this shows is having interesting things to do in one’s life can be a life extender, even if you’re considered just “an animal”.
What is the average age of death of convicts in cages?
That depends on whether they have to spend their time with an angry ape or not.
I thought he died years ago.
Zoo and acting chimps sometimes were prone to emotional upset and acting-out because of the way that they were caught (IIRC they’re bred now, but that wasn’t the case in the past). Some of them caught in the wild were in their mother’s arms when their mother was shot. They are intelligent enough that an experience like this can seriously weird them out. If Cheeta managed to live without this kind of trouble he was fortunate.
Whoa... I grew up watching those Tarzan movies on Saturday afternoons in the ‘60s.
I cannot believe Cheeta has been alive all this time.
Just freaking wow.
Astonishing and wonderful long life!
Instead of “Rosebud” he reportedly said “Oongawa”
(for you Far Side fans)
He lived a constructive peaceful life, with no chip on his shoulder apparently. And then there was... Travis.
I too had thought Cheeta had been long dead. 80 years old....amazing. RIP, Cheeta.
Also, thanks to ETL for posting the pics. Had a crush on Mareen O’Sullivan since I was a kid.....
....even at 10, I always questioned why a chimp was named after a cat
I’ve always admired Cheetah because, unlike so many, he kept his politics to himself.
WOW! As a kid growing up in the 70s the Tarzan movies on Weekend TV were some of the only black and white films that could actually hold my attention. Being Black & White I had assumed that Cheeta was most likely already dead by the time I ever saw them! I never would have imagined his being alive still - he was only Middle-Aged at that time though! LOL
RIP Cheeta - you were probably my first exposure to a chimpanzee and you represented your species very well!
I forgot how ‘HOT’ Jane was. No wonder Tarzan was always in a hurry to get home.
Her first Tarzan movie was pre-Hays Code
Didn’t he have like a two-pack a day habit?
Is Shirley Temple (that other child star of the ‘30s) next?
I was just thinking of Tarzan this week after watching the previews for John Carter which comes out in March. Both were written by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Wow. I had no idea he was still alive.
"Several episodes featured a pet female chimp named "Bingo", who was dressed exactly the same as Costello. Bingo was fired from the show after biting Costello."
Wow, such a long life. Had no idea he was with us for so long.
That said I have a question - how can one have ‘non-denominational’ Christmas music. CHRISTmas is a CHRISTian holiday which just by it being ‘CHRISTmas’ music makes it Denominational.
“Non-denominational” is what you hear on your local Christian radio station. It cannot be identified as distinctively Catholic, Orthodox, Presbyterian, Methodist, etc., as a rule.
A good example.
I don't recall watching the show much as a young kid, but after seeing Mareen OSullivan in these photos, my crush starts today.
There was a pre-Hays version of the Maltese Falcon that was a lot steamy than the Bogart version.
Or Arnold the Pig from Green Acres. Many pigs, male and female, were used.
"The character of Cheeta was a composite role created through the use of numerous animal actors. According to journalist R. D. Rosen, "In each Tarzan movie, the Cheeta role [was] played by more than one chimp, depending on what talents the scene called for." Known and alleged performers of the role include: (See link for details)"
ie: "Cheetah-Mike, a male chimpanzee owned by Suncoast Primate Sanctuary after being donated from Noell's Chimp Farm in Palm Harbor, FL. Alleged to have been born about 1931 (claimed age in February 2008 was 77)"
Oh DUH on me, that sounds reasonable. LOL..... Here I was trying to imagine a Muslim CHRISTmas song --- Jingle bombs Jingle Bombs, Bomb the infidels, Oh what it is to blow christians all to hell........
And supposedly 35 years prior to the 60s!
LOL - good effort on non-Christian Christmas music ;-).
It was an odd choice of words in the article - as if they’d done experiments and found that Cheeta really didn’t like Catholic pop music, or went crazy if they tried Baptist Hymnal tunes.
Some notes on the first chimp to play Cheeta...
"Jiggs, a male chimpanzee born about 1929 owned and trained by Tony and Jacqueline Gentry, who originated the role and appeared in the first two Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan films, Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) and Tarzan and His Mate (1934), as well as the Tarzan serials Tarzan the Fearless (1933), starring Buster Crabbe, and The New Adventures of Tarzan (1935), starring Herman Brix, which was also released in feature-film form as Tarzan and the Green Goddess (1938). In the Brix films, which were more faithful to Edgar Rice Burroughs' original stories than the Weissmuller ones, Jiggs was cast as Nkima, not Cheeta. He also appeared in Her Jungle Love (1938), starring Dorothy Lamour, his last film..."
“It seems the role of Cheeta was played by several different animals just as Lassie the dog was.”
But not this one:
“Cheeta, a male chimpanzee born about 1960, formerly owned by Tony Gentry and now residing at the C.H.E.E.T.A. Primate Sanctuary (Creative Habitats and Enrichment for Endangered and Threatened Apes) in Palm Springs, California. Claimed by Gentry to have been born in 1932 or later in the 1930s and to have portrayed Cheeta in most of the Johnny Weismuller and Lex Barker Tarzan films, and for that reason long celebrated as the longest-lived chimpanzee. Both claims were debunked by journalist R. D. Rosen in 2008 in an article that settled the animal’s true age and established that he had not appeared in any movies, let alone in the role of Cheeta.”
But not this one
The link you provided (same as mine in post 32 above) states the role of 'Cheeta' was played by numerous other chimps. The one that just died apparently was "Cheetah-Mike".
Thanks, didn't catch that in the Wiki piece.
“Cheetah was known for his ability to stand up and walk like a person, sanctuary volunteer Ron Priest told WFLA.
Another distinguishing characteristic: “When he didn’t like somebody or something that was going on, he would pick up some poop and throw it at them,” Priest said. “He could get you at 30 feet with bars in between.”...”
Considering that the oldest known living chimp (Gregoire) died a few years back at age 66, this article becomes even more incredulous.
Appears Cheeta and Obama have something in common:
both need to produce a LEGIT birth certificate.
Also this one was not a true chimpanzee. Likely he was a bonobo, a relative of the chimpanzee. They are slightly smaller in size than a chimpanzee and a much calmer personality. A male chimp can become very violent(see Travis).
How come she’s so hot and her daughter is so blah?