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Chimpanzees

Cheeta the Chimp - Chimpanzee featured on the jungle adventure TARZAN/NBC/CBS/1966-69.

Ron Ely with Cheeta the Chimp - TARZAN

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 Wolf Larsen.

Wolf Larson with Cheeta - 1991 TARZAN series

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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