Tarzan in WWII

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Tarzan had been played by a great number of actors,  the actor mostly associated with the character Tarzan is the former Olympian Johnny Weissmüller. But the title of this blog indicates WWII,and Weissmüller did not serve during the war.

However two other actors who played Tarzan did actively serve during World War II

Glenn Morris

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Glen Morris had also previously been an Olympian

In the U.S. Olympic track and field trials for 1936, Morris scored a new world record of 7,880 points, earning him Newsweek’s sobriquet “the nation’s new Iron Man.” Morris broke his own world record, and the Olympic record, in the Berlin games, with a decathlon score of 7,900 points.It was said that Adolf Hitler never left his seat while Morris was competing, and that the Germans thereafter offered Morris $50,000 to stay in Germany and appear in sports films, an offer Morris refused.

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In 1938 he played Tarzan in ‘Tarzan’s Revenge’ The reviews were so thoroughly bad that Morris never made another movie.

He played four games with the Detroit Lions football team, before injury curtailed this new career, then worked as an insurance agent.He subsequently served in the U.S. Navy and was stationed in the Pacific during World War II, commanding amphibious-assault landing craft.Reportedly wounded, Morris was treated for psychological-trauma issues and spent several months in a naval hospital.

Lex Barker

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Disowned by his family for his choice of an acting career, he worked in a steel mill and studied engineering at night. In February 1941, nearly a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor,lex-barker

Barker left his fledgling acting career and enlisted in the U.S. Army as a Private. The 6’3″ 208-pound soldier rose to the rank of major during the war. He was wounded the leg in action fighting in Salerno and in the head in Sicily.

Back in the USA, he recuperated at an Arkansas military hospital, then upon his discharge from service, traveled to Los Angeles. Within a short time, he landed a small role in his first film, Doll Face (1945).

Barker signed a contract at RKO. He had small roles in The Farmer’s Daughter (1947), Crossfire (1947), and Under the Tonto Rim (1947).

Barker went to Paramount for Unconquered (1947). Back at RKO he was in Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947), Berlin Express (1948), Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), The Velvet Touch (1948), and Return of the Bad Men (1948), playing Emmett Dalton.

In Tarzan’s Magic Fountain (1949), Barker became the tenth official Tarzan of the movies. His blond, handsome, and intelligent appearance, as well as his athletic, now 6’4″ frame, helped make him popular in the role Johnny Weissmuller had made his own for sixteen years. His Jane was Brenda Joyce who had been in Weismuller’s last three films.

Barker’s second Tarzan was Tarzan and the Slave Girl (1950), where Jane was played by Vanessa Brown. In Tarzan’s Peril (1951), Barker’s Jane was Virginia Huston, with African location footage. Dorothy Hart was Jane in Tarzan’s Savage Fury (1952), directed by Cy Endfield.

Barker got the chance to play a non-Tarzan role in Battles of Chief Pontiac (1952), a Western. He returned to the role one last time in Tarzan and the She-Devil (1953).

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He had his greatest success in Germany where he played Old Shatterhand a friend of Apache chief Winnetou in a series of Westerns which were adaptations of novels by German author Karl May.

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