|Height:||191 cm (6' 4'')|
|Birth Day:||June 2, 1904|
|Death Date:||Jan 20, 1984 (age 79)|
As per our current Database, Johnny Weissmuller died on Jan 20, 1984 (age 79).
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
|191 cm (6' 4'')||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
He used his brother's name because his brother, unlike him, was a US citizen.
Johann Weißmüller was an ethnic German on his father's side, the elder son of Peter Weißmüller and his wife Elisabeth (née Kersch), both Banat Swabians, an ethnic German population in the southeastern part of the Kingdom of Hungary. Johann had one sibling, a younger brother, Peter. His generally accepted birthplace was in Szabadfalva (Freidorf), Austro-Hungarian Empire, today part of Timișoara (Temeschwar), Romania. The records of St. Rochus Church in Freidorf show that Johann, son of Peter and Elisabeth (née Kersch) Weißmüller, was baptized there on June 5, 1904, three days after his birth. According to the contemporary laws, his name was recorded as János Weissmüller. However, the ship's roster from his family's arrival at Ellis Island lists his birthplace as Párdány, Kingdom of Hungary (present-day Međa, Žitište, Serbia, near the Romanian border).
The passenger manifest of SS Rotterdam, which left its namesake city on January 14 and arrived at Ellis Island in New York on January 26, 1905, lists Peter Weissmüller, a 29-year-old laborer, his 24-year-old wife Elisabeth, and seven-month-old Johann as steerage passengers. The family is listed as Germans, last residence Timișoara. After a brief stay in Chicago visiting relatives, they moved to the coal-mining town of Windber, Pennsylvania, where they intended to join their brother-in-law, Johann Ott. On November 5, 1905, Peter Johann Weissmüller was baptized at St. John Cantius Catholic Church in Windber. Peter Weissmuller worked as a miner, and his younger son, Peter Weissmüller Jr., was born in Windber on September 3, 1905. In the 1910 census, Peter and Elizabeth Weisenmüller, as well as John and Eva Ott, were living at 1521 Cleveland Ave in the 22nd Ward of Chicago, with sons John, age six, born in Timișoara and Peter Jr., age five, erroneously entered as born in Illinois. Peter Weissmüller and John Ott were both brewers, Ott emigrating in 1902, Weissmüller in 1904.
As a teen, Weissmuller attended Lane Technical College Prep High School before dropping out to work various jobs including a stint as a lifeguard at Oak Street Beach on Lake Michigan. While working as an elevator operator and bellboy at the Illinois Athletic Club, Weissmuller caught the eye of swim coach William Bachrach, who trained Weissmuller; in August 1921, Weissmuller won the national championships in the 50-yard and 220-yard distances. Although foreign-born, Weissmuller gave his birthplace as Tanneryville, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, and his birth date as that of his younger brother, Peter Weissmuller. This was to ensure his eligibility to compete as part of the United States Olympic team, and was a critical issue in being issued a United States passport.
On July 9, 1922, Weissmuller broke Duke Kahanamoku's world record in the 100-meter freestyle, swimming it in 58.6 seconds. He won the title for that distance at the 1924 Summer Olympics, beating Kahanamoku for the gold medal. He also won the 400-meter freestyle and was a member of the winning U.S. team in the 4×200-meter relay.
According to military draft registration records for World War I, Peter and Elizabeth were apparently still together as late as 1917. On his paperwork, Peter was listed as a brewer, working for the Elston and Fullerton Brewery. He and his family were living at 226 West North Avenue in Chicago. In his book, Tarzan, My Father, Johnny Weissmuller Jr. stated that although rumors of Peter Weissmüller living to "a ripe old age, remarrying along the way and spawning a large brood of little Weissmüllers" were reported, no one in the family was aware of his ultimate fate. Peter signed his consent for 19-year-old John "Weissmuller"'s passport application in 1924, preceding Johnny's Olympic competition in France. In the 1930 federal census, Elizabeth Weissmüller, age 49, has listed with her, sons John P. and Peter J., and Peter's wife Dorothy. Elizabeth is listed as a widow.
In 1927, Weissmuller set a new world record of 51.0 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle, which stood for 17 years. He improved it to 48.5 seconds at Billy Rose World's Fair Aquacade in 1940, aged 36, but this result was discounted, as he was competing as a professional.
As a member of the U.S. men's national water polo team, he won a bronze medal at the 1924 Summer Olympics. He also competed in the 1928 Olympics where the U.S. team finished in seventh place.
In 1929, Weissmuller signed a contract with BVD to be a model and representative. He traveled throughout the country doing swim shows, handing out leaflets promoting that brand of swimwear, signing autographs and going on radio. In that same year, he made his first motion picture appearance as an Adonis, wearing only a fig leaf, in a movie entitled Glorifying the American Girl. He appeared as himself in the first of several Crystal Champions movie shorts featuring Weissmuller and other Olympic champions at Silver Springs, Florida. He co-starred with Esther Williams in Billy Rose's Aquacade during the New York World's Fair 1939–41, pursuing her for two years.
Weissmuller starred in six Tarzan movies for MGM with actress Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane and Cheeta the Chimpanzee. The last three also included Johnny Sheffield as Boy. Then, in 1942, Weissmuller went to RKO and starred in six more Tarzan movies with markedly reduced production values. Sheffield also appeared as Boy in the first five features for RKO. Brenda Joyce took over the role of Jane in Weissmuller's last four Tarzan movies (the first two RKO films had not featured Jane). Unlike MGM, RKO allowed Weissmuller to play other roles, though a three-picture contract with Pine-Thomas Productions led to only one film, Swamp Fire, being made, co-starring Buster Crabbe. In a total of 12 Tarzan films, Weissmuller earned an estimated $2,000,000 and established himself as what many movie historians consider the definitive Tarzan. Although not the first Tarzan in movies (that was Elmo Lincoln), he was the first to be associated with the now traditional ululating, yodeling Tarzan yell. During an appearance on television's The Mike Douglas Show in the 1970s, Weissmuller explained how the famous yell was created. Recordings of three vocalists were spliced together to get the effect—a soprano, an alto and a hog caller.
In all, Weissmuller won five Olympic gold medals and one bronze medal, 52 United States national championships, and set 67 world records. He was the first man to swim the 100-meter freestyle under one minute and the 440-yard freestyle under five minutes. He never lost a race and retired with an unbeaten amateur record. In 1950, he was selected by the Associated Press as the greatest swimmer of the first half of the 20th century.
When Weissmuller finally left the role of Tarzan, he immediately traded his loincloth costume for a slouch hat and safari suit for the role of Jungle Jim (1948) for Columbia. He made 13 Jungle Jim films between 1948 and 1954. According to actor Michael Fox, Weissmuller shot two Jungle Jim films consecutively with nine days filming for each with a break of two days between, then he would return to his home in Mexico. Within the next year, he appeared in three more jungle movies, playing himself due to the rights of the name "Jungle Jim" being taken by Screen Gems. In 1955, he began production of the Jungle Jim television adventure series for Screen Gems, a film subsidiary of Columbia Pictures. His costars were Martin Huston and Dean Fredericks. The show produced only 26 episodes, which were subsequently played repeatedly on network and syndicated television. Aside from his first screen appearance as Adonis and the role of Johnny Duval in the 1946 film Swamp Fire, Weissmuller played only three roles in films during the heyday of his Hollywood career: Tarzan, Jungle Jim, and himself.
According to the book by Weissmuller's son, Tarzan, My Father, while playing golf in Cuba in 1958 during the Cuban Revolution, Weissmuller's golf cart was suddenly surrounded by rebel soldiers. Weissmuller was unable to communicate who he was until he got out of the cart and attempted the trademark Tarzan yell. The soldiers then recognized him and shouted '"¡Es Tarzán! ¡Es Tarzán de la Jungla!" Johnny and his companions were not only not kidnapped, but the guerillas gave him an escort to his hotel.
He retired in 1965, moving to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he was founding chairman of the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) and was inducted into the ISHOF that same year.
In September 1966, Weissmuller joined former screen Tarzans James Pierce and Jock Mahoney to appear with Ron Ely as part of the publicity for the upcoming premiere of the Tarzan television series.
Based on his interest in natural lifestyles, Weissmuller opened a small chain of health food stores called Johnny Weissmuller's American Natural Foods in California in 1969.
In 1970, he attended the British Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, where he was presented to Queen Elizabeth II. That same year, he appeared with former co-star Maureen O'Sullivan in The Phynx (1970).
In 1973, Weissmuller was awarded the George Eastman Award, given by George Eastman House for distinguished contribution to the art of film.
In 1974, Weissmuller broke both his hip and leg, marking the beginning of years of declining health. While hospitalized he learned that in spite of his strength and lifelong daily regimen of swimming and exercise, he had a serious heart condition. In 1977, Weissmuller suffered a series of strokes. In 1979, he entered the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California for several weeks before moving with his last wife, Maria, to Acapulco, Mexico, the location of his last Tarzan movie.
In 1976, he appeared for the last time in a motion picture, playing a movie crewman who is fired by a movie mogul (played by Art Carney) in Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood, and he also made his final public appearance in that year when he was inducted into the Body Building Guild Hall of Fame.
On January 20, 1984, Weissmuller died from pulmonary edema at the age of 79. He was buried just outside Acapulco, Valle de La Luz at the Valley of the Light Cemetery. As his coffin was lowered into the ground, a recording of the Tarzan yell he invented was played three times, at his request. He was honored with a 21-gun salute, befitting a head-of-state, which was arranged by Senator Ted Kennedy and President Ronald Reagan.
Currently, Johnny Weissmuller is 118 years, 2 months and 9 days old. Johnny Weissmuller will celebrate 119th birthday on a Friday 2nd of June 2023.
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