Commemorating the Tarzan Film Centennial #149
Born June 18, 1912, Glenn Morris was a Simla, Colorado
farmboy, a high-school standout in football, basketball, and track who
enrolled in Colorado State College (now Colorado State University) to play
all three sports, eventually serving as the student body president.
A hurdler, he targeted the Olympic decathlon after
his 1934 graduation, setting a national record at the Kansas relays, a
world record at the U.S. Olympic trials, and another world record at the
1936 Berlin Olympics.
Returning home, Morris was feted with a tickertape
parade, and married his college sweetheart Charlotte Edwards (who monitored
the stopwatch and his diet during his years of training).
Riding the wave of fame, he moved to Hollywood to appear
in small roles in the films “She Married an Artist” (1937) and “Hold That
Co-Ed” (1938). Sol Lesser cast him as the fourth Olympic medalist Tarzan
in “Tarzan’s Revenge” (1938) opposite the first Olympic female Tarzan lead,
swimmer Eleanor Holm—who was named Eleanor in the film, because Lesser
claimed her fame superseded the role.
Unfortunately, “Revenge” was panned by critics and
audiences alike, and was unable to meet the high expectations generated
by the big-budget films of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer that starred Olympic swimmer
Johnny Weissmuller. Morris was drafted by the Detroit Lions football team
in 1940, but broke his leg in the first game and retired from the gridiron.
In 1942, Morris enlisted in the U.S. navy for World
War II and was commissioned as a lieutenant. He served aboard the “U.S.S.
Banner” as an amphibious assault craft beach landing master, retaking Pacific
Islands from the Japanese under heavy fire.
Morris earned numerous medals and ribbons, but suffered
severe post-traumatic stress disorder, and struggled through life afterward,
working a variety of professions including steelwork, construction, security
guard, and parking lot attendant.
Morris died of heart failure on January 31, 1974, in
the Palo Alto, California Veterans Administration hospital. His athletic
memorabilia was donated to Simla High School, which instituted an annual
Glenn Morris Award, given to a student who excels athletically and academically.