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Gordon Scott (August 3, 1926 – April 30, 2007) was an American actor known for his portrayal of Tarzan in five films (and one compilation of three made-as-a-pilot television episodes) from 1955 to 1960.
Scott died on April 30, 2007 in Baltimore, Maryland of lingering complications from multiple heart surgeries earlier in the year. Gordon Scott was 80 years old.
Scott was born Gordon Merrill Werschkul in Portland, Oregon, one of nine children of advertising man Stanley Werschkul and his wife Alice. Scott was raised in Oregon and attended the University of Oregon for one semester. Upon leaving school, he was drafted into the United States Army in 1944 and was honorably discharged in 1947. He then worked at a variety of jobs until 1953, when he was spotted by a talent agent while working as a lifeguard at the Las Vegas Sahara Hotel.
Career and Personal Life
Due in part to his muscular frame and 6’3" height, he was quickly signed to replace Lex Barker as Tarzan. Scott’s Tarzan films ranged from rather cheap re-edited television pilots to larger scale epics. Two of them, Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure and Tarzan the Magnificent are generally considered to be among the very best Tarzan films ever made. Scott’s (and his writers’) particular gifts to the series included returning Tarzan to his former status as a literate, well-spoken character. Following his departure from the Tarzan films, he moved to Italy and became a popular star of what were known as "sword and sandal" epics, featuring handsome body-builders as various characters from Greek and Roman myth. Scott was a friend of Hercules star Steve Reeves, and collaborated with him as Remus to Reeves’ Romulus in Duel of the Titans (1961). Scott also played Hercules in a couple of low-budget productions during the mid-1960s. His final film appearance was in The Tramplers, filmed in 1966, released in the U. S. in 1968. Scott was married apparently three times, including once to his Tarzan co-star, actress Vera Miles, from 1954 to 1959. He had one son, Michael, born 1957, with Miles, and possibly several more children. For the last two decades of his life, he was a popular guest at film conventions and autograph shows. His manner of making a living the last forty years of his life is unclear, for aside from autograph shows and selling occasional souvenir knives, he does not seem to have been employed. He spent much of his final years living with fans who remembered him from his Tarzan days.
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