Johnny Weissmuller: Twice the Heroby David A. Fury
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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.
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Meet the Author
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.
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