Gordon Scott

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For other people named Gordon Scott, see Gordon Scott (disambiguation).
Gordon Scott
Gordon Scott Hercules 1965
As Hercules for a 1965 ABC Television special.
Born Gordon Merrill Werschkul
(1926-08-03)August 3, 1926
Portland, Oregon, United States
Died April 30, 2007(2007-04-30) (aged 80)
Baltimore, Maryland, United States[1]
Cause of death
Cardiovascular disease
Resting place
Kensico Cemetery
Valhalla, New York, United States
Alma mater University of Oregon
Occupation Actor
Years active 1955–1967
Height 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 metres)
Spouse(s)  • Janice Mae Wynkoop (1948–1949) – 1 child
 • Vera Miles (1956– 1960; divorced) – 1 child

Gordon Scott (August 3, 1926,[1] – April 30, 2007[1]) was an American film and television actor known for his portrayal of the fictional character Tarzan in five films (and one compilation of three made-as-a-pilot television episodes) of the Tarzan film series from 1955 to 1960. Gordon Scott was the eleventh Tarzan, starting with Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle (1955). He was "discovered" poolside, and offered "a 7 year contract, a loin cloth, and a new last name."[2]

Early life, education and military service[edit]

He was born Gordon Merrill Werschkul in Portland, Oregon, one of nine children of advertising man Stanley Werschkul and his wife Alice.[3] Scott was raised in Oregon and attended the University of Oregon, located in Eugene, Oregon, for one semester.

Upon leaving school, he was drafted into the United States Army in 1944. He served as a drill sergeant and military policeman until he 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 Sahara Hotel and Casino, located on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada.

Career[edit]

"Due in part to his muscular frame and 6-foot-3-inch (1.91-metre) height, he was quickly signed to replace Lex Barker as Tarzan"[4] by producer Sol Lesser. Lesser had Gordon change his name because "Werschkul" sounded too much like "Weismueller".[5]

Scott's Tarzan movies ranged from rather cheap re-edited television pilots to large-scale action films with high-production values. In his early Tarzan films, he played the character as unworldly and inarticulate, in the mold of Johnny Weissmuller, an earlier Tarzan portrayer. In Scott's later films, after a change in producers, he played a Tarzan who was educated and spoke perfect English, as in the original Edgar Rice Burroughs novels. Scott was the only actor to play Tarzan in both styles.

Fearing he would become typecast as Tarzan,[6] Scott moved to Italy and became a popular star of what were known as sword-and-sandal epics, featuring handsome bodybuilders 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's 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 United States in 1968).

Personal life[edit]

Scott was married apparently three times. His first marriage was with Janice Mae Wynkoop, of Oakland, California. They met when he was a lifeguard at Lake Temescal, located in Oakland, California. The couple married in Reno, Nevada, in 1948, and had one child, Karen Judith Werschkul (born August 26, 1948), before divorcing in 1949. He was married to his Tarzan co-star, actress Vera Miles, from 1954 to 1959. He had one son with Miles – Michael, born 1957 – and possibly several other children.[7][8]

For the last two decades of his life, Scott was a popular guest at film conventions and autograph shows.[7]

Gordon Scott with a fan in 1995

Death[edit]

Scott died, aged 80, in Baltimore, Maryland, of lingering complications from multiple heart surgeries earlier in the year.[6][8] He is buried in the Kensico Cemetery, located in Valhalla, New York.

Filmography[edit]

Tarzan films[edit]

Year Title Notes
1955 Tarzan's Hidden Jungle
1957 Tarzan and the Lost Safari the first Tarzan film successfully shot and released in color
1958 Tarzan's Fight for Life one of Scott's only Tarzan films to include the character Jane
1958 Tarzan and the Trappers failed television pilot; not aired until 1966
1959 Tarzan's Greatest Adventure
1960 Tarzan the Magnificent Scott's successor in the Tarzan role, Jock Mahoney, played the villain

Other roles[edit]

Year Title Genre Role Notes
1961 Duel of the Titans
(also known as Romolo e Remo)
sword and sandal Remus
1961 Samson and the Seven Miracles of the World
(also known as Maciste alla corte del Gran Khan
sword and sandal Maciste
1962 Gladiator of Rome
(also known as Il gladiatore di Roma)
Marcus
1962 A Queen for Caesar
(also known as Una regina per Cesare)
historical drama film Julius Caesar
1963 L'eroe di Babilonia adventure film Nippur
1963 Zorro e i tre moschettieri swashbuckler Zorro
1964 Buffalo Bill, Hero of the Far West
(also known as Buffalo Bill, l'eroe del far wes)
spaghetti western Colonel William "Buffalo Bill" Cody
1964 Hero of Rome
(also known as Il colosso di Roma)
historical drama film Gaius Mucius Scaevola
1965 Hercules and the Princess of Troy fantasy film Hercules
1967 Danger!! Death Ray spy film Bart Fargo
1967 Top Secret Eurospy film John Sutton
1968 The Tramplers
(also known as Gli uomini dal passo pesante)
spaghetti western Lon Cordeen

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Gordon Scott" 1973. ERBzine. Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  2. ^ Joi. "Tarzan Star Gordon Scott Dies". Retrieved 27 March 2012. 
  3. ^ 1930 U.S. Census, Concord, Oregon.
  4. ^ "gordon scott (1926-2007)". Brian's Drive-In Theater. updated 3/9/2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. ^ "Gordon Scott". [dead link]
  6. ^ a b Landers, Chris (5/2/2007). "The Last of the Strongmen: Gordon Scott Was A Hero Wherever He Went--From Hollywood To Italy To South Baltimore". Baltimore City Paper.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ a b Bernstein, Adam (May 4, 2007). "Gordon Scott; Him Tarzan In '50s, Only Better". The Washington Post. 
  8. ^ a b "Jungle Drums". Tarzan.CC. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Lex Barker
Tarzan
1955–1960
Succeeded by
Denny Miller