Elmo Lincoln

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Elmo Lincoln
Elmo Lincoln - Pictures and the Picturegoer, January 1924.jpg
Lincoln in 1923
Otto Elmo Linkenhelt

(1889-02-06)February 6, 1889
DiedJune 27, 1952(1952-06-27) (aged 63)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting placeHollywood Forever Cemetery
OccupationFilm actor
Years active1913–1952
Spouse(s)Sadie Whited (1913–1921)
Ida Lee Tanchick (1935–?)

Elmo Lincoln (born Otto Elmo Linkenhelt; February 6, 1889 – June 27, 1952) was an American stage and film actor whose career in motion pictures spanned the silent and sound eras. He performed in over 100 screen productions between 1913 and 1952 and was the first actor to portray on film novelist Edgar Rice Burroughs' fictional "jungle" character Tarzan, initially appearing in that role in the 1918 release Tarzan of the Apes.[1]

Early years[edit]

Lincoln was born Otto Elmo Linkenhelt in Rochester, Indiana. He had six siblings, and he left home at 18 to begin a railroad career as a brakeman on a train. He went on to be a boxer, sailor, and stevedore before he became an actor.[2]


Lincoln began acting for director D. W. Griffith, who changed the performer's name. Lincoln's first role was in The Battle of Elderbush Gulch (1914), followed by Judith of Bethula (1914), The Birth of a Nation (1915), and Intolerance (1916).[2]

Tarzan films[edit]

Stellan Windrow, who initially portrayed the title character in 1918's Tarzan of the Apes, went into military service five weeks after filming began. Lincoln replaced Windrow, although author Edgar Rice Burroughs objected to the choice.[2] Lincoln became best known for that role. (Gordon Griffith played Tarzan as a child in the same movie). He portrayed the character twice more—in The Romance of Tarzan (also 1918) and in the 1921 serial The Adventures of Tarzan.

Following the end of the silent movie era, Elmo left Hollywood and tried his hand at mining.[citation needed] He also had a salvage business in Salt Lake City.[1] In the late 1930s, he returned to the film industry, most often employed as an extra. He appeared, uncredited, in two Tarzan films in the 1940s—as a circus roustabout in Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942), and as a fisherman repairing his net in Tarzan's Magic Fountain (1949).

Final role[edit]

His final work saw him also playing a brief, uncredited role in the 1952 film Carrie, starring Laurence Olivier. According to Tarzan of the Movies, by Gabe Essoe, Lincoln was quite proud of his work in this film, as he was an admirer of Olivier.


Lincoln died of a heart attack on June 27, 1952, at age 63.[1]He is interred in a niche at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.[citation needed]

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7042 Hollywood Boulevard.


Lincoln's daughter, Marci'a Lincoln Rudolph, recounts his life in her 2001 book My Father, Elmo Lincoln: The Original Tarzan (ISBN 1-58690-000-5).

Partial filmography[edit]






  • Hollywood Story (1951) - Elmo Lincoln (uncredited)
  • Iron Man (1951) - Minor Role (uncredited)
  • Carrie (1952) - Minor Role (uncredited) (final film role)


  1. ^ a b c "ELMO LINCOLN DIES; FIRST FILM TARZAN; Screen Actor, Who Had Many Roles in 'Birth of a Nation,' Starred in 100 Movies". The New York Times. June 28, 1952. p. 20. Retrieved June 1, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c Mayer, Geoff (February 9, 2017). Encyclopedia of American Film Serials. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-7762-3. Retrieved June 1, 2022.

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