Ron Ely

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Ron Ely
Tarzan Ron Ely 1966.JPG
Ron Ely (right) as Tarzan, 1966.
Born Ronald Pierce Ely
(1938-06-02) June 2, 1938 (age 79)
Hereford, Texas, U.S.
Occupation Novelist, actor
Years active 1957–2016
Spouse(s) Cathy Ely (1959-1961)[1]
Valerie Lundeen (1984- present) (three children)[2]

Ronald Pierce "Ron" Ely (born June 21, 1938)[3] is an American actor and novelist born in Hereford, Texas. Ely is best known for having portrayed Tarzan on the 1966 NBC series Tarzan and for playing the lead role in the film Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze (1975).


Ely won the role of Tarzan in 1966 after playing various supporting parts in films such as South Pacific (1958), as an airplane navigator, The Fiend Who Walked the West (1958) and The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker (1959), as well as a guest-starring role on Barbara Eden's first television series, the romantic comedy How to Marry a Millionaire. During the filming of Tarzan, Ely did virtually all of his stunts for the series, and suffered two dozen major injuries in the process, including two broken shoulders and various lion bites.[4] Ely's height (6' 4") and athletic build also won him the title role in the film Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze (1975), as well as various guest shots. In a 1978 Fantasy Island episode, for example, Ely portrayed Mark Antony in a Roman military short tunic and breastplate that displayed almost as much of his physique as his Tarzan costume had.

From 1960 to 1961, Ely starred on the series The Aquanauts, and the western adventure film The Night of the Grizzly (1966) opposite Clint Walker, and later appeared in Jürgen Goslar's slavery movie Slavers (1978), with Trevor Howard, Britt Ekland and Ray Milland. In the 1980s, Ely hosted the musical game show Face the Music, as well as the 1980 and 1981 Miss America Pageants, replacing longtime host Bert Parks. Later in the decade, Ely starred in a 1987–88 revival of the 1960s adventure series Sea Hunt as Mike Nelson, the role played by Lloyd Bridges in the original series.

In the 1990s, Ely’s roles included a retired Superman from an alternate reality in the 1991 two-part episode "The Road to Hell" of the Superboy syndicated television series, and a big game hunter named Gordon Shaw in the 1992 episode "Tarzan the Hunted" of the syndicated Tarzán TV series (starring Wolf Larson).

Until about 2001, Ely made appearances on popular TV shows, his most recent being Sheena and Renegade. He had retired from acting in 2001, but as reported by the IMDb, he recently returned to acting with an appearance in the television movie Expecting Amish (2014).


Ely embarked on a professional writing career and has authored two published mystery novels featuring private eye Jake Sands: Night Shadows (1994) and East Beach (1995).

Personal life[edit]

In April 2015, Ely announced that he was selling his lavish Santa Barbara, California, home for more than $5 million.[5]

Ely is married to former Miss Florida, Valerie Lundeen. They have three children, Kirsten, Kaitland, and Cameron.


  1. ^ "Ron Ely". Notable Names Data Base. 
  2. ^ "Ron Ely looks back at Tarzan". Daily Express. 7 April 2013. 
  3. ^ "BnF catalog entry for Ron Ely". Bibliothèque nationale de France. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  4. ^ Rutledge, Leigh W. (1989). The Gay Fireside Companion. Alyson Publications, Inc. p. 146. 
  5. ^ Beale, Lauren (6 April 2015). "'Tarzan' Ron Ely puts Santa Barbara hangout up for sale". Los Angeles Times. 

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Bert Parks
Miss America host
Succeeded by
Gary Collins