Friday, May 04, 2007

TARZAN STAR GORDON SCOTT DIES AT 80

Gordon Scott, a handsome, muscular actor who portrayed an "intelligent and nice" Tarzan in 1950s movies, has died. He was 80. Scott, who had been living in a working class section of south Baltimore, died Monday at Johns Hopkins Hospital of post-heart surgery complications, a hospital spokesman said. Scott made 24 movies including "Tarzan and the Lost Safari" (1957), "Tarzan's Fight for Life" (1958), "Tarzan and the Trappers" (1958), "Tarzan's Greatest Adventure" (1959) and "Tarzan the Magnificent" (1960). The cast in the 1959 movie included Sean Connery and Anthony Quayle. Tarzan, the vine-swinging hero of the jungle, was created by the author Edgar Rice Burroughs. Scott was among a long line of actors, including Johnny Weissmuller, Elmo Lincoln and Larry "Buster" Crabbe, who portrayed him. "He was an absolutely wonderful Tarzan who played the character as an intelligent and nice man who carried himself well, much as my grandfather had originally written it," Danton Burroughs told The (Baltimore) Sun. Scott was a lifeguard at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas when he was discovered by Hollywood producer Sol Lesser, said Scott's brother Rayfield Werschkull of Portland, Ore. He was signed to a seven-year-contract after he outperformed 200 other international candidates. During the 1954 production of his first film, "Tarzan's Hidden Jungle," he fell in love with co-star Vera Miles. The couple married that year and divorced four years later. After the Tarzan movies, Scott appeared in Westerns and gladiator films. Scott's later years were spent in Baltimore, in the row house of Roger and Betty Thomas, who had befriended him. "My husband has been a fan of his since he was a child. When we were in Hollywood about eight years ago, we looked him up," said Betty Thomas. "We invited him for a visit. He came and never left." Thomas said she last saw Scott in the hospital on Saturday. She told him, "'Gordon, we love you, and so does the dog and the bird.' He opened one eye for a moment and gave me a wink." Although some sources said Scott was born in August 1927, his brother told The Sun he was born a year earlier.

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