Johnny Sheffield, who played Boy in the Tarzan pics, died Oct. 15 in Chula Vista of a heart attack after falling out of a tree in his backyard. He was 79.
Sheffield started to play Boy in the Johnny Weismuller “Tarzan” film starting with 1939’s “Tarzan Finds a Son!” with Maureen O’Sullivan. He went on to play the part in eight pics in the series including “Tarzan’s Secret Treasure” and “Tarzan and the Amazons.”
The son of Brit thesp Reginald Sheffield, he got the part after his father saw an MGM ad in the Hollywood Reporter. The lad had appeared on stage in “On Borrowed Time” so he had some acting experience. During casting he was asked to swim and though he didn’t know how, Weismuller, whom Sheffield called “Big John” helped him out.
He also appeared in tuner “Babes in Arms” with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland.
After 1947’s “Tarzan and the Huntress,” Sheffield segued to Monogram Pictures’ “Bomba” pics beginning with 1949’s “Bomba, the Jungle Boy.” After 1955’s final “Bomba” pic he shot a TV series “Bantu, the Zebra Boy,” created by his father but which never made it to air.
Thesp, who’d been schooled on the MGM lot, got a business degree from UCLA and worked for a Yuma, Ariz., farming company and then turned to real estate.
Survivors include his wife of 51 years, Patricia; two sons and a daughter; a brother, thesp Billy Sheffield; plus a grandson.