The name, Johnny Weissmuller, has a magic ring to it. Johnny was an undefeated swimming champion and American hero as a five-time Olympic gold medal winner, and then continued his own brand of heroism on the silver screen—first as Tarzan and then later as Jungle Jim. He was even a true-life hero in 1927, and was credited with saving the lives of eleven people after the tragic capsize of the Lake Michigan excursion boat, Favorite. Johnny was also an exemplary role model to his ...
The name, Johnny Weissmuller, has a magic ring to it. Johnny was an undefeated swimming champion and American hero as a five-time Olympic gold medal winner, and then continued his own brand of heroism on the silver screen—first as Tarzan and then later as Jungle Jim. He was even a true-life hero in 1927, and was credited with saving the lives of eleven people after the tragic capsize of the Lake Michigan excursion boat, Favorite.
Johnny was also an exemplary role model to his adoring fans, who spent more than three decades worshiping his every move in the pool and on the screen. His adoring public—men and women alike—would always forgive any minor sins he might commit in his lifetime because of his genuine purity of heart and kindness of soul.
Few athletes in the history of sports can lay claim that they retired undefeated, as was the case with Johnny, who never lost a freestyle race in his amateur swimming career. From his official debut in competitive swimming in August of 1921, when he won his first A.A.U. championship in the 50-yard freestyle, Weissmuller was the winner in every freestyle race he ever entered through 1929, when he retired from competitive swimming so he could earn a living.
As difficult as it is to achieve fame and reach the pinnacle of success in a particular field, Johnny Weissmuller did it twice: He was the greatest swimmer of all-time, and then became eternally famous and internationally loved and remembered as "Tarzan" on the silver screen. As an undefeated swimming and Olympic champion, he was a hero to millions of Americans. His fan adulation eventually spread around the world, and knew no boundaries by country or creed. As Edgar Rice Burroughs' jungle god in twelve Tarzan adventures, he was the ultimate screen hero. Weissmuller continued to wear the mantle of heroism with his role of "Jungle Jim," another pulp fiction character brought to the big screen for sixteen thrilling adventures from 1948 through 1955.
Johnny Weissmuller was in the right place at the right time for the role of Tarzan—it was simply a matter of fate. Those closely entwined cousins of fortune, serendipity and fortuity, certainly helped guide Johnny through his magical life.
Johnny Weissmuller was a bona fide big star, and Fury's sympathetic biography treats him suitably, with a certain gush that evokes old-Hollywood glamour and grandeur. The many illustrations display a beaming, tanned, frequently scantily clad man who was every inch the Olympic champ as well as movie star. Fury's handling of Weissmuller's relationship with Lupe Velez is exemplary. So this is a traditional big starstruck bio that includes just enough dirt to spice the myth. Well worth the reading.
Classic Images, Sept. 2000
- Anthony Slide
David Fury's latest effort is Johnny Weissmuller: Twice the Hero, an exhaustive biography of the five-time Olympic gold medal winner, who was not only the greatest swimmer of all time but also the screen's most enduring Tarzan. An impressive book, professionally researched and written. It should find a wide audience not only among those interested in film history and the history of American swimming, but also with those who appreciate books that display a quality of style and production.
Big Reel, Aug. 2000
- Paul Holbrook
David Fury had unprecedented access to Weissmuller's personal records and the help of his survivors. The book reflects the author's love of his subject, yet he doesn't shy away from revealing the sad sides of Weissmuller's private life. The photos are a rich treasure of scenes from his private moments to behind-the-scenes shots of his films during production. Johnny Sheffield's amusing foreword should be read for further insights into the making of these films.
Burroughs Bibliophiles, June 2000
- David Adams
David Fury's book has the power to awaken long-forgotten memories. I can't stop talking about this book with everyone I meet. Fury's skill as a biographer improves with every book he writes. The depth of detail and understanding displayed in this Weissmuller book is overwhelming. Fury leaves no stone unturned. By the time you are finished reading "Twice a Hero" you feel you have lived next to this man from childhood to the grave, and that is the goal every biographer wishes to attain.
David A. Fury is an author and songwriter from Minneapolis. He currently resides in the Los Angeles area. The next book project is "Burt Lancaster: In Light and Shadow", which will be published in 2014 by a major publisher... and later, as an E-book edition. David Fury is also the author of "The Cinema History of Burt Lancaster" (1988), "Kings of the Jungle" (1994), "Chuck Connors: The Man Behind the Rifle" (1997), and "Maureen O'Sullivan: No Average Jane" (2007). David Fury served in the U.S. Army including a tour of duty in Vietnam as a clerk-typist in 1971, and in the past has been a radio announcer, cab driver, freelance writer and publisher. David also writes pop and folk music, and plays acoustic guitar. He is also an avid swing and tango dancer.