'Tarzan' Star Cheetah Died On Christmas Eve, The Chimp Was 80, Highlight Hollywood Exclusive

Growing up country boys in the South, my co-editor-at-large Bobby Head and I were talking tonight about the fact that we loved “Tarzan” movies and the TV shows as kids. Part of the awakening of boyhood is the fact that we love wildlife, love mother nature and who in the heck didn’t want to see Boy play with his very own chimpanzee named Cheetah? Well, Bobby shared sad and poignant news about Cheetah tonight. It seems Cheetah has died, and here’s Bobby Head’s story on the long-life of a Hollywood icon and how it all came to an end today.

A Florida animal sanctuary tells Highlight Hollywood that Cheetah, the chimpanzee from the “Tarzan” movies of the 1930s has died at age 80.The Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor announced on its website that Cheetah died on Dec. 24 of kidney failure.

The famous chimp came to Suncoast Primate Sanctuary from the Johnny Weissmuller estate back in the 1960s. CHEETAH, with about 5 other Chimps appeared in the famous Tarzan movies for various scenes, such as for close ups, long shots, picking up certain things on cue, and the chimp became just as popular as her famed co-stars, Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan, Johnny Sheiffeld as Boy and Maureen O’Sullivan as Jane. “Fifty-one years I got to spend with him,” Debbie Cobb explained. “I was there when he passed away. And I can tell you that it’s been an honor to be in his presence for 51 years.”

He was first cared for by Debbie’s grandparents. “He loved the women,” Debbie recalled. “He loved to play feetsies, he loved to run up and down, he loved to finger-paint for us. He was just a real playful chimp.” Debbie also said chimps in captivity have an average Lifespan of 35 to 45, and even less in the wild. But Cheetah was a picture of health at age 80, until the trouble started a week before Christmas. “We noticed he was doing something a little bit different with his arm, his leg, he was really off, just kind of like somebody with flu-like symptoms. He was just off.”

It was kidney failure. In his last days, Debbie even put him on dialysis. “We don’t look at anything here extraordinary,” she said. “I mean, that’s normal for us. Going above and beyond in comfort care is our number-one priority.”

Cheetah has joined his costars; all passed away, and I bet they welcomed their old friend. It just won’t be the same without him. But at least we have him in movies forever!

Rest In Peace Cheetah; you brought a lot of happiness in your life time to millions.

Written By: Bobby Head

Photograph Courtesy: Suncoast Primate Sanctuary of an aged Cheetah and Link 81 of Tarazn, Jane, Boy and Cheetah, WB
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