A beloved simian who was arguably the most famous animal in the history of movies has died at age 80 of kidney failure.
"Cheetah, the playful chimp who rose to fame in the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies of the 1930s, has died at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary, a sanctuary spokesman said," reports the website of Gannett’s WTSP-TV, which serves the Tampa Bay area in Florida.
According to the story, "Cheetah suffered kidney failure during the week of December 19th and died Christmas Eve. The chimpanzee was one of several appearing as the character Cheetah in the Tarzan movies. His service ran from the 1932 to 1934, the sanctuary reported."
The story adds that according to the sanctuary’s outreach coordinator Debbie Cobb, "Cheetah was ‘one of our most outgoing’ chimps, and he delighted visitors."
Reportedly, Ronald Reagan once said "A hippie is someone who looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane, and smells like Cheetah."
We here at TVWeek understand that far from being insulted by the remark, Cheetah felt it was a high compliment.
Then there’s this from The New York Times’ obituary for Cheetah: "In a post on her Twitter account, Mia Farrow, who is [the daughter of Maureen O’Sullivan], wrote: ‘Cheetah the chimp in Tarzan movies died this week at 80. My mom, who played Jane, invariably referred to Cheetah as "that bastard." ‘ ”
From left: Maureen O’Sullivan (Jane), Cheetah (himself), Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan) from the 1932 film "Tarzan the Ape Man."