Have you ever watched the old classic Tarzan movies with Johnny Weissmüller? The ones from the 1930s and 1940s. If so, you’ve seen his mate, Cheeta, the feisty chimpanzee. Apparently Cheeta was played by at least two different chimpanzees. Until just a few days ago, I had no idea that one of them, whose original name was Jiggs, is in fact *still* alive, and residing at a fancy mansion in Palm Springs USA. It is almost too amazing to be true.
Cheeta (Jiggs) was caught in Liberia in 1932, and later trained to appear in Hollywood movies. Chimpanzees normally don’t live past their 40s, but Cheeta is now in his late 70s, and thus the world’s oldest living chimp. He is also the sole surviving cast member from Weissmüller’s Tarzan movies.
During his career he played with an impressive number of Hollywood stars. You can read some details about his career, current life and his recently published autobiography "Me Cheeta" (ghost-written obviously) in this article from the Telegraph, in which it says that he
plays the piano, makes paintings in a style marketed as ‘apestract’ and loves to sit on the sofa in his living-room and watch the old Tarzan films on television, hooting and banging on the table when he sees himself on screen.
I wonder if he realises that it is himself he sees? Or if it’s just another ape to him?
He has also signed a record deal with iTunes and supplied some hooting noises on a remake of the old trucking classic Convoy.
Sounds like the old chimp is having a good time in California. They should give him an Oscar, or something.