Johnny Weissmuller (Who’s Who at MGM, 1937) 🇺🇸

January 09, 2022

Johnny Weissmuller, the once sickly lad who swam his way to aquatic acclaim and literally dove from a springboard to motion picture prominence, was born in Windbar, Pa., on June 2. His family soon moved to Chicago. He was educated in the public schools of Chicago and attended the University of Chicago.

He was the son of a former captain and engineer in the Austrian army, and his childhood ambition was to become a great swimmer. He first learned to paddle dog-fashion in the Chicago river. A weak boy, he was encouraged to swim as a means of fighting off a withering sickness, and today attributes his strength and vitality to his many years of contests in the water.

His unusual speed as a swimmer came to the attention of William Bachrach, coach for the Illinois Athletic Club, who took him in charge. He developed into one of the greatest swimmers of all time and, during his amateur reign, won thirty-nine National championships. Altogether he has captured seventy five world speed records. He was the American hero of the Olympic Games in Paris in 1924 and in Amsterdam in 1928.

Turned Professional

He entered the ranks of professional swimmers on January 4, 1929, and his first screen appearance was in a Grantland Rice sports short, demonstrating his swimming form.

He was brought to the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios and given a test for the role of Tarzan, got the part and has played in Tarzan the Ape Man“Tarzan and His Mate” and “Tarzan Escapes.” Weissmuller made the jungle role famous.

 

Possessor of one of the finest physiques of any man living, he is six feet three inches tall, weighs 190 pounds and has brown hair and hazel eyes. His favorite sport outside of swimming is golf.

Is Kodak Fiend

He enjoys writing short stories and articles on swimming in his spare time. His recreations include yachting, football games and the theatre. His favorite reading matter is text books on various educational lines. His hobby is snapping Kodak pictures at every opportunity.

Weissmuller has for some time past been a member of the lifeguard service at the Santa Monica beach, and when not engaged in picture work does regular duty. He is an expert at handling an outboard speedboat, and often races with one of these fast little craft.

King a Pupil by Mail

Hundreds have benefited by his swimming experiences. He answers inquiries in letters from aspiring swimmers, and is never too busy to aid some boy who has the urge to perfect himself in this sport. One of his most unusual pupils was the King of Siam, who, deeply interested in swimming, inquired from Weissmuller regarding certain strokes. Weissmuller wrote a complete account of every stroke and method he had ever learned for the interested monarch.

Johnny attributes his success to laziness. Speaking slowly, in a drawl, he always thought before he acted. Idling, he did it perfectly, building up reserve energy for the finish dash. He refused to be rushed or excited, and now practices the same principles in arduous motion picture work.

His records include world championships in the 50-yard dash, 200 yards, 220 yards, 300 yards, 100 meters, 200 meters, 300 meters, 400 meters, and practically every other distance to the half mile.

Source: Who’s Who at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1937