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Volume 3198

GOODBYE JOHNNY

Johnny Sheffield (April 11, 1931 - October 15, 2010)
Obituary: Former child actor played Boy in 'Tarzan' movies
October 24, 2010 ~ LA Times
Johnny Sheffield, the former child actor who played Boy in the "Tarzan" movie series starring Johnny Weissmuller in the late 1930s and '40s and later starred in the "Bomba, the Jungle Boy" film series, has died. He was 79. Mr. Sheffield died on Oct. 15 of a heart attack at his home in Chula Vista, Calif., near San Diego, about four hours after he fell off a ladder while pruning a palm tree, said his wife, Patty. "He was a jungle boy to the end," she said, noting that her husband of 51 years wasn't too high in the tree when he fell, but "sometimes he was way up there."

The son of British actor Reginald Sheffield, Johnny Sheffield was 7 when his father saw an advertisement in the Hollywood Reporter that asked, "Do you have a Tarzan Jr. in your backyard?" The curly-haired Mr. Sheffield beat out more than 300 other youngsters for the role of Boy in the 1939 movie "Tarzan Finds a Son!," in which Tarzan and Jane (Maureen O'Sullivan) wind up adopting the young child whose parents were killed in a plane crash in the jungle.

Mr. Sheffield, who had appeared in "On Borrowed Time" on Broadway in 1938, recalled in a 1997 Los Angeles Times interview that there were two parts in testing for the role of Boy. "The first was just talking to Weissmuller, and that was no problem," he said. The second part was a swimming test, which for young Mr. Sheffield presented something of a problem: He couldn't swim.

The swimming test with Weissmuller, the winner of five Olympic gold medals in swimming, was held at the Hollywood Athletic Club.
"He jumped into the deep end of the swimming pool," Mr. Sheffield told the Times in 1997. "He knew I couldn't swim. He said, 'Jump in.' I jumped in the deep end and he took my arm and set me on his knee. He said, 'You're doing fine. Hold your breath, we're going under.' "We [later] did a lot of those scenes like that in the movies, where I was holding on to him underwater and swimming. We got out of the pool, toweled off and he said, 'This kid can swim fine.' "

From 1939 to 1947, Johnny Sheffield played the leather loincloth-clad Boy in eight Tarzan films, including "Tarzan's Secret Treasure" and "Tarzan and the Amazons." Weissmuller was always "kind and tender toward me," Mr. Sheffield told The Associated Press in 1984, shortly after the actor he called Big John died at age 79.

After appearing in his final "Tarzan" film, "Tarzan and the Huntress," in 1947, Mr. Sheffield landed the starring role in the 1949 film "Bomba, the Jungle Boy," the first in a dozen low-budget "Bomba" movies made at Monogram Pictures. After "Lord of the Jungle," the final "Bomba" movie in the series, was released in 1955, he left the film business.

Mr. Sheffield, who was born in Pasadena, Calif., on April 11, 1931, earned a degree in business from the University of California, Los Angeles, and moved to Yuma, Ariz., where he worked for a large company that farmed various crops. He later went into the real estate business in Malibu and Carmel, then spent many years working for a corporation that imported lobsters from Baja California and became a contractor whose projects included restoring a couple of buildings in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter.


THE PRESS PAYS TRIBUTE

Tarzan pics Boy dies
Sheffield also starred in 'Bomba' pics
Variety ~ Oct. 19, 2010
Johnny Sheffield, who played Boy in the Tarzan pics, died Oct. 15 in Chula Vista of a heart attack after falling out of a tree in his backyard. He was 79.

Sheffield started to play Boy in the Johnny Weissmuller "Tarzan" film starting with 1939's "Tarzan Finds a Son!" with Maureen O'Sullivan. He went on to play the part in eight pics in the series including "Tarzan's Secret Treasure" and "Tarzan and the Amazons."

The son of Brit thesp Reginald Sheffield, he got the part after his father saw an MGM ad in the Hollywood Reporter. The lad had appeared on stage in "On Borrowed Time" so he had some acting experience. During casting he was asked to swim and though he didn't know how, Weismuller, whom Sheffield called "Big John" helped him out. He also appeared in tuner "Babes in Arms" with Mickey Rourke and Judy Garland.

After 1947's "Tarzan and the Huntress," Sheffield segued to Monogram Pictures' "Bomba" pics beginning with 1949's "Bomba, the Jungle Boy." After 1955's final "Bomba" pic he shot a TV series "Bantu, the Zebra Boy," created by his father but which never made it to air. Sheffield, who'd been schooled on the MGM lot, got a business degree from UCLA and worked for a Yuma, Ariz., farming company and then turned to real estate. Survivors include his wife of 51 years, Patricia; two sons and a daughter; a brother, thesp Billy Sheffield; plus a grandson.



Tarzanís 'son' dead after fall
Toronto Sun ~ October 19, 2010
Johnny Sheffield, the actor who played Tarzan's son in the late 1930s and early 1940s, has died. He was 79. Sheffield portrayed swimming champion-turned-movie star Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan's orphaned child, Boy, in films like Tarzan Finds A Son! and Tarzan and The Amazons.

The son of British actor Reginald Sheffield was seven when he first auditioned as Boy and beat 300 other kids to land the role of Weissmuller's son, rescued from a jungle plane wreck in which his biological parents are killed. Sheffield had to take swimming lessons from Olympian Weissmuller after studio bosses learned the youngster couldn't swim. He played Boy in eight Tarzan films between 1939 and 1947, and later starred in the Bomba, the Jungle Boy film series. Sheffield went on to earn a business degree and worked in farming, construction and real estate.

He died at his home in Chula Vista, California on Friday after suffering a heart attack, according to the Los Angeles Times. His wife Patty tells the publication he fell from a ladder while pruning a palm tree.


A few choice words from the late Johnny Sheffield
Baltimore Sun ~ October 20, 2010
Johnny Sheffield won a place in movie-fantasy history as Boy to Johnny Weissmuller's Tarzan in the the 1930s and '40s. He also acted as Bomba the Jungle Boy, well into the 1950s. (That's Sheffield in the middle, flanked by Weissmuller and little Johnny Weissmuller Jr.) Then he hung up his  loincloth, studied business and went to work, often in contracting and real estate.

He died Friday of a heart attack at age 79, at his home in Chula Vista, outside San Diego. Three years ago, Kurt Jensen, the research associate on my biography, "Victor Fleming: An American Move Master," interviewed him about his days at MGM. He was brusque but also funny and useful. Ask him about the hierarchy at the studio and he'd answer, "When we were working, the company usually ate together. Sometimes, we'd eat somewhere else." He took most old-timers' tales of MGM with a mountain of salt: "That's all folklore, now." But he did offer that my man Fleming "was well-known and appreciated. You could tell that by the attitude of the people who were there around him." And he added, after a snort, "I'm not into gossip or that kind of stuff! I could tell you he was always by himself and everybody considered him an SOB, but that wouldn't be true!" Sheffield started out as Boy and Bomba the Jungle Boy, but obviously grew into a man you could trust.


SCRAPBOOK

Cheetah | Johnny Sheffield | Johnny Weissmuller | Maureen O'Sullivan

With young Johnny Weissmuller, Jr.
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See the two Johnnies in Florida at:
http://www.erbzine.com/mag5/0501.html
and
http://www.erbzine.com/mag5/0501a.html


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Wikipedia Entry


JOHNNY SHEFFIELD IN ERBzine

Featured at ERBzine Silver Screen

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Tarzan Finds a Son! 
(1939) (MGM)

Colour Cards
Lobby Card Display
Tarzan's Secret Treasure 
(1941) (MGM)

Colour Cards
Lobby Display
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Tarzan's New York Adventure 
(1942) (MGM)

Colour Cards
Lobby Display I
Lobby Display II
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Tarzan Triumphs 
(1943) RKO

Colour Cards
Lobby Display I
Lobby Display II
Lobby Display III
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Tarzan's Desert Mystery
(1943) RKO

Colour Cards
Lobby Display I
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Tarzan and the Amazons 
(1945) RKO

Colour Cards
Lobby Display I
Lobby Display II
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Tarzan and the Leopard Woman 
(1946) RKO

Colour Cards
Lobby Display I
Tarzan and the Huntress 
(1947) RKO

Colour Cards
Lobby Display I
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THE BOMBA FILM SERIES

Ref: ERBzine 0897
12 Movies Starring Johnny Sheffield

Monogram's Bomba the Jungle Boy film series
was inspired by the adventure-book series by Roy Rockwood.
Johnny Sheffield, formerly "Boy" in the Tarzan pictures, starred as Bomba.
Bomba the Jungle Boy turned out to be one of  Monogram's most successful series.
From ERBzine 0577

Johnny Sheffield and the Mike Conran Collection 2000


www.erbzine.com/mag5/0551.html



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