biography

Native Texan Ron Ely was born Ronald Pierce on June 21, 1938. In the mid 1950s, he enrolled at the University of Texas, but he soon made his way to California. After signing with 20th Century Fox in the late 1950s, Ely appeared in small roles in several films and television shows, including the films South Pacific and The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker and the TV series How to Marry a Millionaire (1957-1959; with Merry Anders, Barbara Eden, and Lori Nelson). And in 1960 Ely was cast in the CBS series The Aquanauts, but the show was canceled after just one season. Several more films followed, but his big break didn't come until 1966, when the 6'4" actor was cast in the role of Tarzan for the TV series of the same name.

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Ron Ely as Tarzan

Ely had tried out for the role of Tarzan after Jock Mahoney abandoned the role in 1963, but he lost out to football player-turned-actor Mike Henry. Henry made three Tarzan films and was originally cast for the series, but he declined it after some bad experiences while shooting his first Tarzan film. Ely was then cast in the role.

After a number of attempts to create a Tarzan TV series had failed, producer Sy Weintraub finally was able to bring Tarzan to the small screen in 1966. Tarzan aired on NBC beginning in September 1966 and lasted until September 1968, with each episode running at about 47 minutes. In the series, there is no Jane in sight; Tarzan is assisted only by Cheetah and Jai (Manuel Padilla Jr.), an orphan. Citing sagging ratings and rising production costs, NBC canceled Tarzan in 1968. Throughout the run of the series, several films were released, mostly using footage from the series. In the early 1970s, Ely made a number of films in Germany, where he became very popular in a brief series of adventure films. His next hit would come in 1975, with the release of Doc Savage.

the films of ron ely

The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker (1959)

Ron Ely and Jill St. John

With Jill St. John in the 20th Century Fox comedy The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker

The Aquanauts (1960-1961 CBS TV Series)

Ron Ely

As Mike Madigan from the CBS TV series The Aquanauts

Once Before I Die (1966) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Ron Ely

From the Warner Bros. war drama Once Before I Die with Richard Jaeckel. This film was directed by John Derek

The Night of the Grizzly (1966) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Clint Walker and Ron Ely

Clint Walker slaps Ron Ely in Paramount's The Night of the Grizzly

Tarzan (1966-1968 NBC TV Series) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Ron ElyRon ElyRon ElyRon Ely and Manuel Padilla Jr.

LEFT and CENTER: Various shots from Ely's 1966-1968 NBC series Tarzan. RIGHT: With Manuel Padilla Jr. as Jai

Tarzan's Jungle Rebellion (1967)

Ron ElyRon Ely

From Tarzan's Jungle Rebellion

The Cry of the Black Wolves (1972) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Ron Ely

From the Swedish-made adventure The Cry of the Black Wolves, lensed in Austria

Doc Savage (1975) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Ron ElyRon ElyRon Ely Ron Ely and Pamela Hensley

From the Warner Bros. adventure Doc Savage. LEFT and CENTER: Ely as the title character. RIGHT: With Pamela Hensley

Fantasy Island (1978-1984 ABC TV Series)

Ron ElyRon ElyRon Ely

From Ron Ely's guest appearance on ABC-TV's Fantasy Island, episode My Fair Pharoah/The Power, which originally aired on May 10, 1980

Sea Hunt (1987-1988 Syndicated TV Series)

Ron Ely and Kimber Sissons

With Kimber Sissions in the syndicated series Sea Hunt, a reboot of the original series which starred Lloyd Bridges

ron ely today

Since the 1990s, Ron Ely has cooled his acting career, focusing instead on writing mystery novels focusing on the character, Jake Sands. His novels are titled Night Shadows and East Beach, both published in the mid 1990s. Until about 10 years ago, Ely made appearances on popular TV shows, his most recent being Sheena and Renegade. He is now retired from acting.

ron ely films available from movies unlimited

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TELEVISION
Tarzan: The First Season, Part One [DVD](1966) DVD
The first 15 episodes of the debut season--including "Eyes of the Lion," "A Life for a Life," "The Prodigal Puma," "Pearls of Tanga," and "The Ultimate Duel"--are featured in a four-disc set. 12 1/2 hrs. total. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono. **15 episodes on 4 discs. 12 1/2 hrs.**
Tarzan: The First Season, Part Two [DVD](1967) DVD
The final 16 episodes of the debut season--including "The Fire People," "Cap'n Jai," "Basil of the Bulge," "To Steal the Rising Sun," and "Man Killer"--are featured in a four-disc set. 13 1/3 hrs. total. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono. **16 episodes on 4 discs. 13 1/3 hrs.**
Tarzan: The Complete Second Season [DVD](1967) DVD
All 26 episodes from the second and final season are featured in a six-disc set. 21 1/2 hrs. total. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono. **26 episodes on 6 discs. 21 1/2 hrs.**
Wonder Woman: The Complete Third Season [DVD](1978) DVD
All 24 episodes from season three--including "My Teenage Idol Is Missing," "Disco Devil," "Gault's Brain," "Amazon Hot Wax," and the two-part "Phantom of the Roller Coaster"--are collected on a four-disc set. 19 hrs. total. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; audio commentary on one episodes; featurette. **24 episodes on 4 discs. 19 hrs.**

FILM
South Pacific (Special Edition) [DVD](1958) DVD
Popular Rodgers and Hammerstein musical about life on a lonely Pacific island post during World War II where a young Navy nurse falls for a French plantation owner. Can their love survive, even as the shadow of war looms ever closer? Rossano Brazzi, Mitzi Gaynor and Ray Walston star. Songs include "There Is Nothin' Like a Dame," "Some Enchanted Evening," "Happy Talk," and more; based on James Michener's "Tales of the South Pacific." Includes the original theatrical release and the roadshow version; 151 min./172 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital 5.0, Dolby Digital stereo, French Dolby Digital mono, Spanish Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English, Spanish; audio commentary; "making of" documentary; featurettes; photo gallery; sing-along songs; theatrical trailer; more. Two-disc set.
South Pacific (50th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray](1958)
Popular Rodgers and Hammerstein musical about life on a lonely Pacific island post during World War II where a young Navy nurse falls for a French plantation owner. Can their love survive, even as the shadow of war looms ever closer? Rossano Brazzi, Mitzi Gaynor and Ray Walston star. Songs include "There Is Nothin' Like a Dame," "Some Enchanted Evening," "Happy Talk," and more; based on James Michener's "Tales of the South Pacific." Theatrical version; 151 min./Roadshow version; 172 min. Widescreen; Soundtracks: English DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio, Dolby Digital 4.0, Dolby Digital stereo, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1; Subtitles: English (SDH), Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Portuguese; audio commentary; featurettes; screen test; photo gallery; theatrical trailer. Two-disc set.
The Night Of The Grizzly [Blu-ray](1966)
1880s marshal Clint Walker inherits land in Wyoming and trades in his badge for the life of a rancher. But new dangers plague him and his family, from an ex-con Walker put away who shows up seeking revenge to a marauding grizzly on the prowl, in this exciting frontier adventure. Leo Gordon, Martha Hyer, Keenan Wynn also star. 102 min. Widescreen; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital stereo; featurette.
The Night Of The Grizzly [DVD](1966) DVD
1880s marshal Clint Walker inherits land in Wyoming and trades in his badge for the life of a rancher. But new dangers plague him and his family, from an ex-con Walker put away who shows up seeking revenge to a marauding grizzly on the prowl, in this exciting frontier adventure. Leo Gordon, Martha Hyer, Keenan Wynn also star. 102 min. Widescreen; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital stereo; interview.
Once Before I Die [DVD](1966) DVD
Exciting WWII actioner concerns an underequipped unit of American soldiers stationed in the Philippines as they come under fire from the Japanese. After they encounter an alluring beauty, they try to protect her while inching their way towards the safety of Manila--encountering the brutality of war along the way. Directed by John Derek, who co-stars with then-wife Ursula Andress, Richard Jaeckel, Ron Ely. 97 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.
Cry Of The Black Wolves [DVD](1972) DVD
In the frozen North, a trapper (Ron Ely) is wrongly accused of murder and tracked by a bounty hunter. Can he prove his innocence and find the real killer? Exciting German actioner based on a story by Jack London. 90 min. Widescreen; Soundtrack: English (dubbed) Dolby Digital mono.
Doc Savage: The Man Of Bronze [DVD](1975) DVD
The golden-hued hero of books, comics, and radio returns in this exciting, fun-filled adventure saga. Doc and his comrades track a killer to a remote South American nation where a deadly Indian tribe, ruthless villains and a fabulous treasure await. Ron Ely, Pamela Hensley, Paul Wexler star. 101 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.

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filmography

FILM
Slavers (1978) with Ray Milland, Cameron Mitchell, and Britt Eklund
Killing Me Softly (1976) with Senta Berger
Doc Savage (1975) with Paul Gleason, Robyn Hilton, and Pamela Hensley
Halleluja and Sartana Strike Again (1972)
The Cry of the Black Wolves (1972)
Tarzan's Deadly Silence (1970) with Jock Mahoney and Woody Strode
Tarzan and the Four O'Clock Army (1968) with Maurice Evans and Julie Harris
Tarzan and the Perils of Charity Jones (1967) with Woody Strode and Julie Harris
Tarzan's Jungle Rebellion (1967) with Jason Evers, William Marshall, and Nichelle Nichols
Night of the Grizzly (1966) with Clint Walker, Martha Hyer, Keenan Wynn, and Nancy Kulp
Once Before I Die (1965) with John Derek, Ursula Andress, Richard Jaeckel, and Rod Lauren
The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker (1959) with Clifton Webb, Jill St. John, Dorothy McGuire, and Charles Coburn
The Fiend Who Walked the West (1958) with Hugh O'Brian, Robert Evans, and Linda Cristal
South Pacific (1958) with Rossano Brazzi, Mitzi Gaynor, Ray Walston, France Nuyen, Doug McClure, Richard Harrison, Ken Clark, and Tom Laughlin

TELEVISION SERIES
Sea Hunt, 1987-1988 syndicated TV series
Face the Music, 1979-1981. Ely served as the host of this syndicated game show
Tarzan, 1966-1968 NBC-TV series. The series also aired on CBS from June 1969 through September 1969
The Aquanauts, 1960-1961 CBS TV series (aka Malibu Run)

TELEVISION GUEST APPERANCES
Sheena, episode The Feral King, originally aired October 13, 2001
Renegade, episode Hard Evidence, originally aired February 19, 1996
Hawkeye, episode Out of the Past, originally aired November 13, 1994
L.A. Law, episode Book of Renovation, Chapter 1, originally aired October 7, 1993
Renegade, episode White Picket Fences, originally aired September 27, 1993
The Hat Squad, episode Family Business, originally aired October 28, 1992
Tarzan, episode Tarzan, the Hunted, originally aired March 8, 1992
The Adventures of Superboy, episode The Road to Hell: Part 2, originally aired May 25, 1991
Blacke's Magic, episode Ten Tons of Trouble, originally aired January 8, 1986
Fantasy Island, episode Goin' on Home/Ambitious Lady, originally aired January 7, 1984
Hotel, episode Charades, originally aired October 19, 1983
Matt Houston, episode A Deadly Parlay, originally aired April 10, 1983
Fantasy Island, episode Eternal Flame/A Date with Burt, originally aired March 5, 1983
The Love Boat, episode The Captain's Crush/Out of My Hair/Off-Course Romance, originally aired February 19, 1983
The Love Boat, episode New York, A.C./Live It Up/All's Fair in Love and War, originally aired February 20, 1982
Fantasy Island, episode The Case Against Mr. Roarke/Save Sherlock Holmes, originally aired February 6, 1982
The Love Boat, episode She Stole His Heart/Return of the Captain's Brother/Swag and Mag, originally aired December 6, 1980
Fantasy Island, episode My Fair Pharaoh/The Power, originally aired May 10, 1980
Fantasy Island, episode The Red Baron/Young at Heart, originally aired October 27, 1979
The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, episode The Deadly Sting, originally aired October 6, 1978
Marcus Welby, M.D., episode To Father a Child, originally aired October 1, 1974
Ironside, episode Killing at the Track, originally aired February 4, 1971
The Courtship of Eddie's Father, episode Pain, originally aired October 22, 1969
Thriller, episode Waxworks, originally aired January 8, 1962
The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, episode The Posse, originally aired May 10, 1960
The Millionaire, episode Millionaire Sergeant Matthew Brogan, originally aired November 24, 1959
How to Marry a Millionaire, episode The Method, originally aired July 30, 1959
Playhouse 90, episode The Second Happiest Day, originally aired June 25, 1959
Steve Canyon, episode The Sergeant, originally aired March 26, 1959
Father Knows Best, episode Crisis Over a Kiss, originally aired February 9, 1959

links

Tarzan Titles and Air Dates Guide
This site contains a complete listing of all 57 Ron Ely Tarzan episodes, with titles and original air dates.
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This page premiered May 6, 1999.
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