Thursday, November 6, 2008

Remembering Cheeta

With all the non-furry skinned creatures campaigning, insulting, screaming and kicking about their precious elections, I would like to stop and remember Cheeta, a great animal star who co-starred in the Tarzan movies of the 1930 and 40s. Cheeta, 76 years old, is retired and lives in Palm Springs, California with his animal trainer Dan Westfall. I'm not sure how old he is in chimpanzee years, but I'm pretty sure the number would qualify as a shitload.

Like any human at the age of 76, Cheeta passes his days like many other retirees. He sleeps late. He watches television. He paints. He listens to lite-FM radio. A big day involves making a trip to McDonald's drive-thru and getting a burger, french fries, and a Diet Coke.

As I am only five-years-old, I never watched any Tarzan movies, but my pet, Jimmy, did and he has filled me in on Cheeta's mischievous antics playing second-banana to Tarzan (Olympic swimming champion turned actor, Johnny Weissmuller) and Jane (Maureen O'Sullivan). Cheeta's later credits include the 1951 comedy Bedtime for Bonzo, costarring Ronald Reagan, 1952's Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla.

Born in Liberia in 1932, Cheeta was brought to the United States and purchased by Westfall's uncle, Tom gentry. Originally named Jiggs, he made his first appearance on screen in the 1934 film Tarzan and His Mate, riding on the back of an older chimp who was then playing the role of Cheeta. Although the role of Cheeta was played by many chimpanzees, Jiggs is considered the premier of the group.

Cheeta used to be a bit of a carouser (like some people I know), drinking beer and smoking cigars. Since developing diabetes, he has toned down his intake to include soda pop, corn chips and peanut butter sandwiches.

Cheeta's agent has been trying for eight years to get Cheeta a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. With the likes of my heroes, Garfield, Lassie, Rin Tin Tin and other animal stars having their own stars on the Hollywood Walk, I believe a Hollywood star for Cheeta is long overdue. I'd sure like to see him get a star before those yapping Beverly Hills Chihuahua's do, but that's just me!

Stray Tuned !


lindasworld said...

Dearest PSH, Hi there, it's me Gabi up here in cold & rainy Washington state. I totally agree with you regarding the Hollywood Walk of Fame Star for Cheeta. My slave, Linda, has walked the Walk of Fame and seen most of the stars there. One more star isn't going to hurt and Cheeta certainly deserves credit for all the movies he's made for the humans to enjoy. Thanks for calling this to our attention...we need to get somebody (ahh maybe our new Prez) on this right now! Yours fondly, Gabi Lin

Rose said...

This is hysterical! Yes, I do remember Cheeta!

He was the hardest working chimp in showbiz and, like any true Hollywood legend, Cheeta, Johnny Weissmuller's costar in the Tarzan movies.

Hugs, Rose

garnett109 said...

Wow Cheeta is 76 ?

Me said...

Wow Possum, I didn't even know ole Cheeta was still alive and also would love to see a star for him. Thanks for the lovely bio and update on him.

Paula said...

I agree Cheeta needs a star. Susie

Pamela said...

He deserves a star!! He's in Palm Springs? I was just there...

natalie said...

hey Possum!:0
you are such a great writer !:)
and you're only 5!wow!
thank you so much for telling us about Cheeta!
Did you ever see Clint Eastwood'd movie "Ever which way but loose"?
It talks about a brilliant orangatan!