Director and actor Lamont Johnson (b.1922) died on October 24. Johnson won two Emmy awards for his television work. In the early 1950s, Johnson portrayed Tarzan on the radio show Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle. Moving into film, he directed several episodes of the original The Twilight Zone, including “Five Characters In Search of an Exit,” and Spacehunter.
Actor Johnny Sheffield (b.1931) died on October 15. Sheffield is best known for appearing as Tarzan’s son in eight films during the 1940s opposite Johnny Weismuller. Following his Tarzan films, Sheffield attempted to capitalize on his fame with his own series of jungle films as Bomba, the Jungle Boy, a series which ran from 1949 through 1955 when Sheffield retired from acting.
Actress Brenda Joyce (b.1917) died on July 4. Joyce, born Betty Leabo, appeared as Jane Porter in five Tarzan films, bridging the last of the Johnny Weismuller films and the firts of the Lex Barker ones. Joyce also made genre film the Spider Woman Strikes Back and Pillow of Death.
The Musee du Quai Branly in Paris, France is running an exhibit devoted to exploring the cultural impact of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan. According to the museum’s head, Tarzan is important because it molded and reinforced American and European images of Africa throughout the twentieth century. Tarzan was introduced to readers by Burroughs in 1912 in Tarzan of the Apes. Burroughs went on to write two dozen novels about Tarzan. The first film was made as early as 1918.