My favorite part of the classic Tarzan movies was Cheetah, Tarzan’s trusty chimpanzee sidekick. Today we learn that the chimp who played Cheetah has died. He was 80 years old. Story here.
One of the things I liked about Cheetah was the double-take associated with his name. Who names a chimp “Cheetah?” That’s like naming your trusty steed “Cow” or your favorite cheetah “Chimpanzee.” If I ever get a pet cheetah, I’m totally naming it “Chimpanzee.”
One thing I’ve wondered about pop culture. Did the Tarzan movies solidify the “trusty sidekick” meme? Sure, Holmes had Watson, but in movies and on TV, were Tarzan and Cheetah pioneers in that regard? Would the Lone Ranger have had Tonto if Tarzan hadn’t had Cheetah?
Here are (from left) Jane, Cheetah, and Tarzan:
Could there be any more idealized image of nuclear family harmony?
Of course, I realized from watching another of my idols, that I would never really make it as a zoologist until I had my own chimp. It was kind of like the way Hollywood starlets need to keep Chihuahuas in the purses nowadays. Outdoorsy zoologist guy + his own chimp = awesomeness:
That’s right – I just blogged about Marlin Perkins for the second day in a row! We’ll see how long I can keep this up. Anyway, I used to love it when Marlin was trying to make a serious point about habitat loss and WK would be doing something mischievous like messing up Marlin’s hair. Childhood decision: “must obtain chimp.”
Soon, however, I re-evaluated my chimp-needing priorities: