Cheeta the Chimp - Chimpanzee featured on the
jungle adventure TARZAN/NBC/CBS/1966-69.
Cheeta was the companion of Tarzan (Ron Ely), a white man who lived in the
vastness of the African jungles.
Cheeta resurfaced in the jungle adventure TARZAN/SYN/1991-94 starring
The Cheeta character first appeared in the movie script of Tarzan the Ape Man
(1932) starring Johnny Weissmuller.
The film was based on the fictional jungle hero created by Edgar Rice Burroughs
in his classic story Tarzan of the Apes (1914). A chimp named Jimmy
(trained by Al Antonucci) played the role of Cheeta in films after 1944
including Tarzan and the Huntress..
TRIVIA NOTE: On the 3/24/86 installment of LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN,
veteran actress Maureen O'Sullivan who played Jane (Tarzan's mate) in five of
the Tarzan movies, told the studio audience that Cheeta was a homosexual monkey
who had the "hots" for Johnny Weissmuller and that it had to be chained by the
ankles during scenes when she acted with Weissmuller to prevent any sudden
bursts of jealousy.
Years later, Maureen O'Sullivan (Mia Farrow's mother) visited Cheeta housed at
Griffith Park Zoo and Yes! Cheeta remembered her. He spat in O'Sullivan's face.
In 1992, a CHEETA Support Group (Creative Habitats & Enrichment for Endangered
and Threatened Apes) mounted a campaign on behalf of Tarzan's pal to
get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The only other animal stars on the
Walk of Fame to that time were Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, and Strongheart, a silent
movie canine hero.
Cheeta celebrated his 76th birthday April 9, 2008.
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