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Gordon Merrill Werschkul
August 3, 1926
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
|Died||April 30, 2007 (aged 80)|
|Resting place||Kensico Cemetery|
Valhalla, New York
|Height||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
Janice Mae Wynkoop
(m. 1948; div. 1949)
(m. 1956; div. 1960)
Gordon Scott (August 3, 1926 – April 30, 2007) 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 seven-year contract, a loin cloth, and a new last name."
Early life, education and military service
He was born Gordon Merrill Werschkul in Portland, Oregon, one of nine children of advertising man Stanley Werschkul and his wife Alice. 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.
"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" by producer Sol Lesser. Lesser had Gordon change his name because "Werschkul" sounded too much like "Weismueller".
Scott's Tarzan movies ranged from rather cheap re-edited television pilots to large-scale action films with high-production values shot on location in Africa. 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, Scott moved to Italy and became a popular star in epics of the péplum genre (known in the United States as sword-and-sandal), featuring handsome bodybuilders as various characters from Greek and Roman myth. Scott was a friend of 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 international co-productions during the mid-1960s. As the péplum genre faded, Scott starred in Spaghetti Westerns and Eurospy films. His final film appearance was in The Tramplers (filmed in 1966; released in the United States in 1968).
Scott was married two 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 actress Vera Miles, his Tarzan co-star, from 1956 to 1960. He had one son with Miles – Michael, born 1957 – and possibly several other children.
For the last two decades of his life, Scott was a popular guest at film conventions and autograph shows.
|1955||Tarzan's Hidden Jungle||Tarzan||Scott married co-star Vera Miles|
|1957||Tarzan and the Lost Safari||Tarzan||the first Tarzan film successfully shot and released in color|
|1958||Tarzan's Fight for Life||Tarzan||Scott's only Tarzan film to include the character Jane|
|1958||Tarzan and the Trappers||Tarzan||failed television pilot; not aired until 1966|
|1959||Tarzan's Greatest Adventure||Tarzan||Sean Connery co-starred as a villain|
|1960||Tarzan the Magnificent||Tarzan||Scott's successor in the Tarzan role, Jock Mahoney, played the villain|
|1961||Maciste contro il vampiro
(also known as Goliath and the Vampires)
|peplum||Maciste / Goliath|
|1961||Samson and the Seven Miracles of the World
(also known as Maciste alla corte del Gran Khan
|sword and sandal||Maciste / Samson|
|1961||Duel of the Titans
(also known as Romolo e Remo)
|sword and sandal||Remus|
|1962||Kerim, Son of the Sheik||adventure film||Kerim|
|1962||Gladiator of Rome
(also known as Il gladiatore di Roma)
|1962||A Queen for Caesar
(also known as Una regina per Cesare)
|historical drama film||Julius Caesar|
|1963||Zorro and the Three Musketeers||swashbuckler||Zorro|
|1963||The Shortest Day||comedy||Soldato||Uncredited|
|1963||L'eroe di Babilonia
(also known as The Beast of Babylon Against the Son of Hercules)
|1963||Goliath and the Rebel Slave||peplum||Goliath / Gordian|
|1963||The Lion of St. Mark||adventure film||Manrico Venier|
|1963||Hercules Against Moloch
(also known as The Conquest of Mycene)
|sword and sandal||Glaucus ('Hercules')|
|1964||Coriolanus: Hero without a Country||historical drama film||Coriolanus|
|1964||Hero of Rome
(also known as Il colosso di Roma)
|historical drama film||Gaius Mucius Scaevola|
|1964||Karim ibn el sheikh
(also known as Karim, the Sheikh's Son)
|1964||Buffalo Bill, Hero of the Far West
(also known as Buffalo Bill, l'eroe del far west)
|Spaghetti Western||Colonel William "Buffalo Bill" Cody|
|1965||Hercules and the Princess of Troy||fantasy film||Hercules||television pilot|
(also known as Gli uomini dal passo pesante)
|Spaghetti Western||Lon Cordeen|
|1967||Danger!! Death Ray||spy film||Bart Fargo|
|1967||Top Secret||Eurospy film||John Sutton||(final film role)|
- "Gordon Scott". ERBzine. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
- Joi. "Tarzan Star Gordon Scott Dies". Archived from the original on 22 September 2007. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
- 1930 U.S. Census, Concord, Oregon.
- "gordon scott (1926-2007)". Brian's Drive-In Theater. July 18, 2014. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
- "Gordon Scott". Archived from the original on September 27, 2011.
- Vagg, Stephen (17 November 2020). "John Guillermin: Action Man". Filmink.
- Bernstein, Adam (May 4, 2007). "Gordon Scott; Him Tarzan In '50s, Only Better". The Washington Post.
- "Jungle Drums". Tarzan.CC.
- Bergan, Ronald (8 June 2007). "Gordon Scott". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 August 2015.