Lex's pre-Tarzan roles were nothing to write home about. He had various uncredited bit parts in films such as Doll Face (1945), Two Guys from Milwaukee (1946) and Mr Blandings Builds his Dream House (1948), but it wasn't until he landed the role of Tarzan of the Apes in Tarzan's Magic Fountain (1949) - replacing Johnny Weissmuller after 16 years - that he made it big. At 6ft 4in he was an impressive Lord Greystoke, and appeared as Tarzan in four more productions - Tarzan and the Slave Girl (1950), Tarzan's Peril (1951, filmed partially in Kenya, making it the first Tarzan film shot in Africa), Tarzan's Savage Fury (1952) and Tarzan and the She-Devil (1953).
|Lex as Tarzan with Cheeta|
During his time as Tarzan, Lex did appear in other roles - he appeared in the TV series Tales of Tomorrow, playing a space explorer in the episode Red Dust (broadcast May 2nd, 1952). He also appeared in 1952's Battles of Chief Pontiac, playing Lieutenant Kent McIntire to Lon Chaney Jr's title character in a film set before the Revolution.
After hanging up Tarzan's loincloth, Lex continued to secure roles in films such as Thunder Over the Plains (1953), Black Devils of Kali (1954), The Yellow Mountain (1954) and The Price of Fear (1956), but by the late 1950s he was finding it harder to secure work, so decided to move to Europe to try his luck, settling in Spain's Costa Brava. After all, he was multilingual, able to speak English, French, Italian, Spanish and some German. On the Continent, he found work in Captain Falcon (1958), Fellini's La Dolce Vita (1960) and Terror of the Red Mask (1960).
|As Old Shatterhand in 1962's The|
Treasure of the Silver Lake
By 1966 Lex had become a major star in Germany and was even awarded the Bambi Award for Best Foreign Actor that year. He also turned his hand to singing, recording two songs in 1965 - I'll Be on the Way to You Tomorrow, and Girl in Silk and Velvet.
|Lex in his final acting role, Rod Serling's|
Night Gallery, in January 1972
|Lex, aged 53, with lover Karen|
Kondazian, then 22, in May 1972
On Friday, May 11th, 1973, just three days after his 54th birthday, Lex was walking down Lexington Avenue in New York City, on his way to meet his lover Karen Kondazian, when he collapsed and died from a heart attack. The funeral took place in the Big Apple, and his remains cremated and taken back to Spain by his wife, Tita.
The first time Gordon appeared on the cinema screen was as Tarzan of the Apes in Tarzan's Hidden Jungle (1955). He was discovered by a talent scout while working as a lifeguard in Las Vegas's Sahara Hotel and Casino, and it was undoubtedly his 6ft 3in frame which did the job. Movie producer Sol Lesser asked Gordon to change his name from Werschkul as it sounded too like Weissmuller, and so he became Gordon Scott.
|Gordon, aged 39, in Hercules|
and the Princess of Troy (1965)
During his time playing Tarzan, Gordon was married to his co-star, Vera Miles, but the couple divorced in 1960 - the year Gordon decided to hang up the loin cloth for fear of being typecast, and moved to Italy to seek Continental work. It was there he became quite a popular action film star, especially in "swords and sandals" epics such as Goliath and the Vampires (1961), Duel of the Titans (1961), A Queen for Caesar (1962) and Goliath and the Rebel Slave (1963).
However, as the market for this genre faded away, Gordon tried his luck at Westerns and spy-fi films - such as Buffalo Bill (1965) and Danger!! Death Ray (1967) - but these were not successful, and Gordon's final acting work was as John Sutton in the Italian crime drama Top Secret (aka Segretissimo), released in May 1967.
|Gordon with fan Roger Thomas, who|
he lived with between 2001-07
Gordon actually spent the last six years of his life living in the spare room of his number one fan, Roger Thomas, and his wife Betty, in Baltimore. The Thomases had visited Hollywood to look round the memorabilia and souvenir stores in 2000, and mentioned to shopkeepers that his idol was Gordon Scott (he had all his films on tape) and would love to meet him. A month after returning home, Roger had a call from Gordon, who was then living in Arizona, saying he'd like to come over and visit them.
|Gordon in hospital in the|
last few weeks of his life
Gordon had a number of operations on his heart in early 2007, but he died of complications following the surgery at 10.50am on April 30th, 2007, at the age of 80, at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. He had apparently been estranged from his family for some time. He is buried in the Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York.
Denny had perhaps one of the most enduring acting careers of all the Tarzans after his one outing as the Lord of the Jungle in Tarzan, the Ape Man in 1959. Denny played basketball at the University of California in Los Angeles as a youngster, and it was while working as a furniture remover to pay his way through school that he was spotted by a talent scout for MGM and signed up, becoming the first ever blond Tarzan.
Tarzan, the Ape Man was made on the cheap and took a lot of its incidental footage from old Johnny Weissmuller films. Although Denny was signed up for 20 months, he worked only eight of them, but this brief sojourn into the jungle did nothing to harm what became a glittering career.
|Denny as Duke Shannon|
in Wagon Train, when he
was aged 30
When Wagon Train ended in April 1964, it wasn't long until he secured another regular role, that of Mike McCluskey in the romantic comedy series Mona McCluskey opposite Juliet Prowse. This ran for 26 episodes between 1965-66, after which Denny fell into a plethora of guest star roles in series such as The Girl from UNCLE (1966), The Fugitive (1966), The High Chaparral (1968), Hawaii Five-O (1969) and Mission Impossible (1971). These guest star roles carried on well into the 1980s, securing a semi-regular turn as Max Flowers in soap Dallas in 1984.
Denny's acting career came to an end in the 1990s: after playing Sheriff Owen Kearney in Lonesome Dove: The Series (1994-95), he drew a line on his CV with the role of Noah McBride in a two-part story in the series Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman, broadcast in February 1996. He was aged 62 and ready to retire, and in retirement he stayed for nine years, until he was tempted back before the cameras to play Horace the miner in the $1.2m TV film Hell to Pay, which reunited ten legendary Western stars, including Lee Majors, Buck Taylor and James Drury, among others.
|Denny lived until he was 80 years old,|
and always advocated healthy living
In January 2014, at the age of 79, Denny was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, a form of Motor Neurone Disease. He passed away in Las Vegas on September 9th that year, aged 80 - before he died, he'd been the oldest living Tarzan actor.
To read the previous chapter about the silent era Tarzans, click here, and the previous chapter about the Tarzans 1932-48, click here. The next chapter in the Tarzan story, looking to the 1960s, can be found here.