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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Me Cheeta... an autobiography

Yep. Really! Tarzan's faithful companion (other than Jane and Boy), Cheeta, wrote a 'tell-all' book of those glory days in the jungle with the famous vine-swinging yodeler... and the tawdry movie star life that followed. The book, published in England a year ago, is about to debut in the United States this month, to good reviews, as you might expect. (Ecco, 320 pages, $24.99) It's not often you see something so well written by the world's oldest and arguably, most famous, chimp.

And yes, he really did write it (wink, wink).

It seems, according to a Wall Street Journal review, "Cheeta is a cigarette-smoking, booze-guzzling, name-droping, washed-up actor who preens over his modest accomplishments, dreams of being awarded an honorary Oscar and swears like one of the sailors on the ship that brought him from Africa with a load of exotic animals in 1933."

Now living in a Hollywood retirement home, he ponders his legacy. "Was I a pioneer, the true inventor of simian thespianism? That's not easy for me to say. It's not easy for anyone to say, actually, 'simian thespianism.'"

While Cheeta talks about some of the stars of the day with various degrees of disdain and candor, he has nothing bad to say about Johnny Weissmuller, the only Tarzan we purists will acknowledge. Then there is the touching tale of the two of them reuniting just before Weismuller's death in 1984.

The WSJ review concludes" A million celebrities typing on a million keyboards would be hard-pressed to top "Me Cheeeta."

I've got my copy ordered fellow Tarzanites (A proud cadre of groupies that preceed the Trekkies by a 50 years). How about you?

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