June 2, 1904 – January 20, 1984
Johnny Weissmuller is known for playing the role of the “ape-man” Tarzan in the Tarzan film series of the 1930s and 40s. Outside of acting, he was an Olympic gold medalist freestyle swimmer who set several swimming records in the 1920s, being the first person to break the one-minute mark for the 100-meter freestyle swim.
Born in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, he emigrated to the United States with his family in his childhood. At nine, he contracted polio. For recovery, he took up swimming, kicking off a lifelong passion.
He grew to be a 6’ 3”, 190-pound champion athlete – winner of five Olympic gold medals, 52 national titles, and 67 world titles. He was the holder of every freestyle record from 100 yards to the half-mile.
After his swimming career ended, Weissmuller turned to acting, spending many years playing Tarzan, the man raised by apes — the Lord of the Jungle.
Johnny Weissmuller was, above all, a man of the water and a famed Olympic swimmer.
Even today, Johnny holds a strong claim as the greatest swimmer of all time, not only because of his great successes, but due to his magnanimous attitude in victory.
It is said that Johnny Weissmuller didn’t lose one single race throughout his amateur career.