By now, you must have read the recent reports that Cheetah the Chimp, star of various “Tarzan” films in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, died Christmas Eve in a sanctuary in Florida, at the age of 80. This would indeed be sad news, if it were true.
Here I am, at left, crouching between my Dad and my Mom, flashing my classic smile. They loved me and I loved them back. We lived a happy life on the jungle set. Many sticks to throw and vines to climb. They are gone now, but Cheetah not gone. Cheetah remember.
Of course, I can already sense the first question that comes to your mind: how can I be Cheetah, since I am not 80 years old? I can explain, but first let me finish grooming myself. OK. There. That one too.
One day, when I was about seven, I was watching cartoons after school. It was the same show I usually watched: “Paul Shannon’s Adventure Time.” The last thing I remembered was Paul lowering his magic sword… and the next thing I knew, I had been transported backwards in time 20 years. As you might guess, the process of going back in time had a regressive effect on my physical development — I now had hair over my entire body and I could only speak in screams and oogles.
I still had my endearing smile, though, and I figured I could use it to get by. But it was still pretty hard making a living as a 3-foot-tall waiter. Eventually I renamed myself Cheetah and headed for Hollywood, California, where I would be accepted for who I was.
It was a happy time, making the “Tarzan” films. I learned how to act and how to provoke elephant stampedes. I had all the bananas I could eat. They were sort of constipating, so I had to scrounge for crickets and other sources of fiber when I wasn’t needed on the set. Nowadays, trainers know better.
So, just to let you know, Cheetah is not dead but in his late 50s, and is living peacefully in the North Carolina mountains. When I’m not writing my blog, I make art. Fingerpaints. Stop by and have a banana daiquiri with me.