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Ronald Pierce Ely (born June 21, 1938)[3] is an American actor and novelist born in Hereford, Texas and raised in Amarillo.

Ron Ely
Barbara Bouchet Ron Ely Fernando Lamas Tarzan 1968.jpg
Ron Ely (center) as Tarzan, 1968.
Ronald Pierce Ely

(1938-06-21) June 21, 1938 (age 81)
OccupationNovelist, actor
Years active1957–2001, 2014–present
Spouse(s)Cathy Ely (1959-1961)[1]
Valerie Lundeen (1984- present) (three children)[2]

Ely is best known for having portrayed Tarzan on the 1966 NBC series Tarzan and for playing the lead role in the film Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze (1975).



Ely won the role of Tarzan in 1966 after playing various supporting parts in films such as South Pacific (1958), as an airplane navigator, The Fiend Who Walked the West (1958) and The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker (1959).[4]

During the filming of Tarzan, Ely did virtually all of his stunts for the series, and suffered two dozen major injuries in the process, including two broken shoulders and various lion bites.[5]

Ely's height (6'4") and athletic build also won him the title role in the film Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze (1975), as well as various guest shots. In a 1978 Fantasy Island episode, for example, Ely portrayed Mark Antony in a Roman military short tunic and breastplate.[citation needed] Also in 1978, Ely starred in the Wonder Woman (TV series) 2 part episode The Deadly Sting.

From 1960-61, Ely starred on the series The Aquanauts, and the western adventure film The Night of the Grizzly (1966) opposite Clint Walker, and later appeared in Jürgen Goslar's slavery movie Slavers (1978). In the 1980s, he hosted the musical game show Face the Music, as well as the 1980 and 1981 Miss America Pageants, replacing longtime host Bert Parks. Later in the decade, Ely starred in a 1987–88 revival of the 1960s adventure series Sea Hunt as Mike Nelson, the role played by Lloyd Bridges in the original series.[4]

In the 1990s, Ely’s roles included a retired Superman from an alternate reality in the 1991 two-part episode "The Road to Hell" of the Superboy syndicated television series, and a big game hunter named Gordon Shaw in the 1992 episode "Tarzan the Hunted" of the syndicated Tarzán TV series (starring Wolf Larson). Until about 2001, Ely made appearances on such television shows as Sheena and Renegade.[4]

Ely had retired from acting in 2001, but as reported by the IMDb, he returned to acting with an appearance in the television movie Expecting Amish (2014).[4]


Ely embarked on a professional writing career and has authored two published mystery novels featuring private eye Jake Sands: Night Shadows (1994) and East Beach (1995).[citation needed]

Personal lifeEdit

Ely is married to former Miss Florida, Valerie Lundeen. They have three children, Kirsten, Kaitland, and Cameron.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Ron Ely profile". Notable Names Data Base.
  2. ^ "Ron Ely looks back at Tarzan". Daily Express. April 7, 2013.
  3. ^ "BnF catalog entry for Ron Ely". Bibliothèque nationale de France. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d Ron Ely on IMDb
  5. ^ Rutledge, Leigh W. (1989). The Gay Fireside Companion. Alyson Publications, Inc. p. 146.

External linksEdit

Media offices
Preceded by
Bert Parks
Miss America host
Succeeded by
Gary Collins
Media offices
Preceded by
Mike Henry
Actors to portray Tarzan
Succeeded by
Robert Ridgely