biography

Born in Denver, Colorado, on June 18, 1912, 6'2" Glenn Morris is best known as a Decathlon gold medalist in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. As a student at the Colorado State College of Agriculture, Morris played football and was inspired to try the decathlon after traveling to Los Angeles to see the 1932 summer Olympics. After college, Morris worked as a car salesman, but by the time the 1936 summer Olympics took place, Morris had taken a job at NBC radio in New York as an announcer.

Glenn Morris

Glenn Morris resting between events at the 1936 summer Olympic games in Berlin


Much like Johnny Weissmuller and Buster Crabbe had parlayed Olympic medals into Hollywood fame, Glenn Morris was signed as an actor. However, he made only a few films, including the 1938 features Tarzan's Revenge and the comedy Hold That Co-ed. Sol Lesser, who at the time was a producer of low-budget films, cast Morris in the role of Tarzan over baseball player Lou Gehrig. Lesser had tried once before to cast a popular Olympic athlete in the role of Tarzan; in 1933, Lesser signed Buster Crabbe to portray Tarzan in Tarzan the Fearless. Although this film suffered poor box office receipts, Lesser attempted a Tarzan film with Glenn Morris, titled Tarzan's Revenge. In the 1940s and 1950s, Lesser produced the Tarzan series of films with Johnny Weissmuller, Lex Barker, and Gordon Scott.

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Promotional photo of Morris as Tarzan


When Tarzan's Revenge was released in January 1938, it failed to make box office impact and slid into obscurity. As a result, Sol Lesser dropped Morris' contract in May 1938. On a personal front, things weren't much better; Morris married his first wife, Colorado schoolteacher Charlotte Edwards, in 1936, but the union dissolved in the late 1930s. In November 1938, Morris abandoned his acting career in favor of playing football for the Hollywood Stars of the California Pro Football League, but the team folded shortly thereafter. He also played a few games for the Detroit Lions but was sidelined by an injury.

the films of glenn morris

Tarzan's Revenge (1938)

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LEFT: Glenn Morris as Tarzan in Tarzan's Revenge, released by 20th Century-Fox. RIGHT: Swimmer and Olympic correspondent Eleanor Holm has a sizeable role, as does actress-turned-gossip-wag Hedda Hopper, who portrays Holm's mother in the film

later years

Upon the release of Tarzan's Revenge in early 1938, critics were unmerciful in their condemnation of the film, in part because of the success of Johnny Weissmuller's Tarzan films. Weissmuller's films were also of a much higher production quality than Revenge, which was shot on a miniscule budget and released by 20th Century-Fox. In truth, Morris's performance in the film is pretty solid; however, the film's failure compelled Morris to quit acting.

After the collapse of his film career, Glenn Morris became an insurance agent, but he enlisted in the Navy with the start of World War II. During the war, Morris suffered severe psychological trama, and he spent a lot of time recovering in the San Francisco Navy Hospital. In the 1950s and early 1960s, he worked in a variety of odd jobs until his health began to fail in the mid 1960s. After years of poor health, Morris passed away on January 31, 1974, at the age of 61. Morris left no immediate survivors.

glenn morris films available from amazon.com

glenn morris books available

Mike Chapman's The Gold and the Glory: The Amazing True Story of Glenn Morris, Olympic Champion and Movie Tarzan
Mike Chapman's The Gold and the Glory: The Amazing True Story of Glenn Morris, Olympic Champion and Movie Tarzan is the only biography of Glenn Morris, 1936 Olympic champion and Tarzan actor. Illustrated with 125 rare photos. 144 pages; softcover. Published by Culture House Books, March 2003.

filmography

Hold That Co-ed (1938) with John Barrymore, Joan Davis, and Ruth Terry
Tarzan's Revenge (1938) with Eleanor Holm, Hedda Hopper, and George Meeker
Olympia Part Two (1938)
She Married an Artist (1937) with John Boles, Alexander D'Arcy, and Albert Dekker
Decathlon Champion (1937) a short featuring Glenn Morris

glenn morris film now showing

Watch Glenn Morris in the 1938 film Tarzan's Revenge

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This page premiered April 7, 2000
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