Cheeta the Tarzan chimp star turns 75
Last updated at 00:05am on 11th April 2007
Cheeta the chimpanzee, the animal star of 12 Tarzan films in the Thirties and Forties, celebrated his 75th birthday yesterday.
Officially the world's oldest chimp, Cheeta, who was 'discovered' by an animal trainer on a trip to Africa in the 1930s, is said to be in excellent shape at a primate centre in Palm Springs, California.
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Star: With O'Sullivan and Weissmuller
He has outlived both his human Tarzan costars. Johnny Weissmuller, who played the lead, died in 1984 aged 79, and Maureen O'Sullivan, who was Jane, died in 1998 at 87.
Interesting story ... when Cheeta's long time handler was near death he was going to have Cheeta put down but the handler's nephew Dan Westfall stepped in and offered to give Cheeta a home for the rest of his days. Westfall founded C.H.E.E.T.A. (the committee to help the existence of endangered and threated apes) it's basically an entertainment industry retirement home for primates. Because they are highly intelligent and very mischievous primates are usually able to work only when they are very young then they get too independent. At that point they aren't able go to zoos or the like because they have not been socialized with their own species. Many formerly ended up in research labs or were put down, but now they have a place to go. What a shame it would have been for Cheeta to be put down. He was as big of an animal movie star as there ever was. He was actually in over 30 Tarzan films starring opposite Johnny Weissmuller, Buster Crabbe, and Lex Barker as Tarzan and Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane. He has outlived them all. At one point Cheeta received more fan mail than Maureen O'Sullivan a fact that reported to have angered Miss O'Sullivan. Cheeta was able to work into his 40's with his last film being Dr. Dolittle in 1967. Other residents of the retirement home include the orangutans from "Every which way but loose". Cheeta paints abstract (apestract) pictures to support himself and the foundation. I'm proud and honored to say that one of Cheeta's paintings hangs in my Phoenix shop as part of our animal art gallery. I will post a picture of it in this thread tomorrow.
That's great harry! :D
Thanks for sharing that... :)
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