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A native of Portland, Oregon, Gordon M. Werschkul first majored in physical education at the University of Oregon, but dropped out after one semester. He joined the Army where he earned his sergeant's stripes and became an infantry drill instructor, then a military policeman. He specialized in close order drill, judo and hand-to-hand combat. After his honorable discharge in 1947 he took on a series of short-term civilian jobs, including fireman, cowboy, and farm-machinery salesman.
In 1953, he was working as a lifeguard at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas when he was spotted by Hollywood agents, Ed and Walter Mayers, who were impressed by his 218 pound, 6' 3", muscular physique and 19" biceps. They introduced Mr. Werschkul to Sol Lesser who had already conducted 200 tests in search of a new Tarzan to replace the departing Lex Barker.
According to Gordon: "The six-hour screen test consisted of running, jumping, climbing trees, diving into the water, swinging on vines, as well as helping five girls test for the female lead." His only previous film experience was having posed with Olympic swimmer Eleanor Holm when they posed as Tarzan and Jane for a newsreel shot taken at the Sahara pool.
The producer cast him in the low-budget 30th film in the series, Tarzan's Hidden Jungle (1955), gave him a seven-year contract and a new last name. It also led to romance with his co-star, Vera Miles, who became his third wife (they divorced in 1959). They had one son, Mike.
His first three Tarzan pictures -- Tarzan's Hidden Jungle (1955), Tarzan and the Lost Safari and Tarzan's Fight For Life -- made by Lesser and released through RKO and M-G-M, were mediocre. Three unsold pilot episodes made in 1958 for a planned TV series were edited together for the black and white film Tarzan and the Trappers -- which saw its world premier on television on May 5, 1966.
Most critics, however, saw potential in the new good-looking, muscular Tarzan. Scott's last two Tarzan films -- Tarzan's Greatest Adventure (1959) and Tarzan the Magnificent (1960) -- from producer Sy Weintraub through Paramount, displayed a more articulate and intelligent Tarzan and are considered among the best of the Tarzan series.
In 1960, Gordon turned down an offer to do further Tarzan films and went to Italy to star in a series of sword and sandal spectaculars and spaghetti westerns. A highlight was his reunion with his old training buddy Steve Reeves, who suggested that Scott be cast as Remus to Reeves's Romulus in Romolo e Remo (aka Duel of the Titans).
The versatility that Gordon showed in his career prior to the movies was echoed in his film roles. In contrast to the more buff Reeves, who appeared almost exclusively in costume epics, the 6' 3" Scott managed a surprising variety of parts, ranging from various classical heroes, to James Bondish adventurers, to spaghetti western cowboys in addition to Tarzan. His early military combat and martial arts training made it possible for him to do many of his own stunts, as well. Scott also played Hercules in a couple 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.
Gordon Scott retired from acting in 1966 after appearing in The Tramplers. Although it has been many decades since he hung up his loincloth, Gordon Scott is still well-remembered by loyal fans having been a popular guest at film conventions and autograph shows. Mr. Scott, now in his 80s, has experienced numerous health problems and is now living in a nursing home in Baltimore, Maryland. He may be contacted by mail at: Genesis HealthCare, Long Green Center, 115 E. Melrose Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21212 USA.
NOTE: Gordon Scott died in Baltimore on April 30, 2007
TRIVIA The Masai gave Scott the nickname "Mtu Ule Na Panda Miti Minegu" -- warrior who climbs tall trees. On location in Africa Scott impressed natives by defeating their best warrior in a spear-throwing contest. On a bet he demonstrated his skill as a cowboy by catching and riding a wild giraffe. On the set in California a lion clawed a gaping wound in Scott's leg. Gordon Scott was nearly killed by the 18.5-foot python with which he was wrestling in Tarzan's Fight For Life.. It took six men to pull the snake off him. The release of Tarzan's Fight For Life marked the 40th anniversary of Tarzan in film. The three unsold pilot episodes for a planned TV series were edited together for the black and white film Tarzan and the Trappers -- which saw its world premier on television on May 5, 1966. In 1957, he appeared on the TV show, "You Bet Your Life." Host Groucho Marx jokingly called him, "Great Scott." Scott starred in the first Technicolor Tarzan picture, the location film: Tarzan and the Lost Safari. All future Tarzan films were filmed in colour. Romolo e Remo (aka Duel of the Titans) (1961) :with Virni Lisi
GORDON SCOTT FILMOGRAPHY AFTER TARZAN
Ref: Movies Unlimited
Mask Of The Musketeers (1960): After his six Tarzan films, Gordon Scott swung with the Italian film crowd for several years, appearing in this swashbuckler about a masked bandit and a trio of swordsmen who save a French princess. Co-stars Flamenco dancer Jose Greco.
Le Retour du fils du sheik (1962): with Gordon Mitchell and Moira Orfei
A Queen for Caesar (1962): with Rik Battaglia
Gladiator of Rome (1962)
Hero Of Rome (1963): American bodybuilder Gordon Scott does battle with streams of barbarian scavengers for the honor of the Eternal City in "Hero of Rome." Lithe and lissome Gabriella Pallotta co-stars.
Samson And The Seven Miracles Of The World (1963): Gordon Scott straps on the sandals to play the heroic muscleman, who gets clobbered by a huge bell and stirs up an earthquake after being buried alive in order to save a Chinese princess from the evil, saucy Tartars. Yoko Tani, Gabriele Antonini co-star. AKA: "Goliath and the Golden City," "Maciste at the Court of the Great Khan."
The Tyrant Of Lydia Against The Son Of Hercules (1963)
Hercules' bulging baby boy journeys to the valley of the Hermus river and tattoos the evil king of Lydia with his bare fists. Muscleman Gordon Scott and Massimo Serato star in this mythic Italian adventure.
The Vampires (1963): Gordon Scott plays daring gladiator hero Maciste (Americanized to "Goliath") in this Italian-made spectacle in which he battles a bloodsucking mastermind who turns slaves into zombies. With Gianna Maria Canale. AKA: "Goliath and the Vampires."
The Beast Of Babylon Against The Son Of Hercules (1963): Former "Tarzan" Gordon Scott takes the strongman costume to become Hercules, who goes up against an evil king causing trouble for the population of Assyria. Michael Lane, Moira Orfel also star. AKA: "Hero of Babylon."
Gladiator Of Rome (1963): Usurpers of the Roman throne imprison the rightful princess and her childhood friend in the dungeons for 14 years. Gaining awesome strength over time, muscleman Gordon Scott frees them and strives to regain the royal birthright. AKA: "Battle of the Gladiators."
The Lion Of St. Mark (1963/1967): Gordon Scott, star of countless gladiator and swashbuckler enterprises, plays a suave aristocrat, forced by law into letting mercenaries defend Venice from ruthless pirates. When the brigands disrupt his engagement party, Scott adopts the name "Lion of St. Mark," joins friends in tackling the invaders, and falls in love with a pirate queen. Gianna Maria Canale also stars.
Hero of Babylon (1963): with Moira Orfei
Zorro and the Three Musketeers (1963)
Goliath and the Rebel Slave (aka The Tyrant of Lydia Vs. the Son of Hercules) (1963), with Serge Nubret and Gloria Milland
Conquest of Mycene (aka Hercules Vs. Moloch) (1963) with Rosalba Neri
Coriolanus, Hero Without A Country (1964): Former Tarzan Gordon Scott leads the Plebians against the evil Roman senate in this gladiator spectacular boasting muscular heroics and expert battle scenes. Alberto Lupo and Lilla Brignone also star. AKA: "Thunder of Battle."
Buffalo Bill, Hero Of The Far West (1964): Gladiator movie great Gordon Scott plays "Buffalo Bill" Cody, the Western hero sent by President Grant to stop the gun-running between white smugglers and a fierce Sioux warrior. Cody discovers that an Indian-hating Cavalry commander may have a part in the dealings. This early spaghetti sagebrusher also stars Roldano Lupi and Catherine Ribeiro.
Hercules And The Princess Of Troy (1965): Made in English as the pilot for a proposed Hercules TV series, this handsome adventure stars Gordon Scott as the heroic demigod, pitted against a giant sea serpent come to snack on its monthly sacrificial virgin.
Danger!! Death Ray (1965) with Max Dean and Silvia Solar
The Tramplers (1966): A son who split with his father during the Civil War returns home, only to find the family still divided and heading towards a violent resolution. Western drama stars Joseph Cotten, Gordon Scott, James Mitchum. AKA: "Showdown."
Gordon Scott Bibliography
Ref: The Gordon Scott Page
Black, Michael A. "The Long Journey of Hercules." Baby Boomer Collectibles, October 1996.
Eames, John Douglas. The MGM Story: The Complete History of Fifty Roaring Years. New York: Crown, 1975.
Information on Gordon's films Tarzan and the Lost Safari and Tarzan's Fight for Life. Films produced or released by the studio are grouped by year of release. See 1957 and 1958.
__________. The Paramount Story. New York: Crown, 1985.
Information on Gordon's films Tarzan's Greatest Adventure and Tarzan the Magnificent. Films produced or released by the studio are grouped by year of release. See 1959 and 1960.
Essoe, Gabe. Tarzan of the Movies: A Pictorial History of More Than Fifty Years of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Legendary Hero. Secaucus, N.J.: Citadel Press, 1968.
Flacassier, Stephen. "Gordon Scott Speaks!" Cult Movies 14, 1995.
__________. "Immense and Immortal." Cult Movies 23, 1997.
__________. Muscles, Myths, and Movies: "An Acquired Taste on Video" Guide to the Cinematic Adventures of Hercules. Elk Grove Village, Ill.: Rabbit's Garage, 1994.
Comprehensive and highly enjoyable resource with detailed plots and evaluations of most of Gordon's "sword and sandal" epics.
Fury, David. Kings of the Jungle: An Illustrated Reference to Tarzan on Screen and Television. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., 1994
Jewell, Richard B., with Vernon Harbin. The RKO Story. New York: Arlington House, 1982.
Information on Gordon's film Tarzan's Hidden Jungle. Films produced or released by the studio are grouped by year of release. See 1955.
Merritt, Greg. The Guide to Muscle Films and Television. Los Angeles, Calif.: Merritt Enterprises, 1996.
Brief synopses of movies starring bodybuilders and musclemen.
Saltarelli, Mario. "Hercules and Beyond." Cult Movies 20, 1997.
ERBzine SILVER SCREEN COMPENDIUM
Filmography at Internet Movie DB
Tarzan's Hidden Jungle
Tarzan and the Lost Safari
Tarzan's Fight For Life
Tarzan and the Trappers
Tarzan's Greatest Adventure
Tarzan the Magnificent
The Many Faces of Hercules
Gordon Scott at Brian's Drive-In Theater
Tarzan Movie Guide
Tarzan of the Movies
A Recent Visit with Gordon Scott
Biography at Answers.com
Tarzan en Jane
Tarzan Films (Australia)
SCOTT MEMORIAL TRIBUTE IN ERBzine
and the Lost Safari
Fight For Life
and the Trappers
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