Born on April 11, 1931, in Pasadena, California, Johnny Sheffield was the son of British character actor Reginald Sheffield (best remembered for his role on the TV series Rocky Jones, Space Ranger as Professor Mayberry). Although as an infant Sheffield was sickly, he soon grew into a strong youth. At an early age, his father encouraged him to be an actor; by age seven, Sheffield was appearing on the legitimate stage, both in Los Angeles and in New York. During a casting call in 1939, he was hand-picked from a lot of 300 child actors by Johnny Weissmuller for the role of "Boy" in the Tarzan series.

Johnny Sheffield as BombaJohnny Sheffield

Johnny Sheffield in character as Bomba

Sheffield's first feature film was Tarzan finds a Son! (1939; with Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O'Sullivan, and Laraine Day). Both the film and Sheffield proved to be popular, so producer Sol Lesser cast Johnny Sheffield in eight of the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan films. By the late 1940s, Sheffield had outgrown his role as Boy. At the age of 16, he made his last Tarzan film, the 1947 feature Tarzan and the Huntress, which was the penultimate Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan film. After returning to high school to complete his studies, Sheffield was signed by Monogram Pictures (later Allied Artists) in 1949 to make a dozen Bomba films. Most of these were directed and written by Ford Beebe, a veteran low-budget director who began his career in silent films. Loosely based on Roy Rockwood's series of books from the 1920s and 1930s, in actuality the Bomba series more closely resembled the Tarzan films.

the films of johnny sheffield

Tarzan's Desert Mystery (1943)

Johnny SheffieldJohnny Sheffield

With Johnny Weissmuller in RKO's Tarzan's Desert Mystery

Tarzan and the Amazons (1945)

Brenda Joyce, Johnny Weissmuller, and Johnny Sheffield

From RKO's Tarzan and the Amazons with Brenda Joyce and Johnny Weissmuller

Tarzan and the Huntress (1947)

Johnny Sheffield with Johnny Weissmuller and Brenda Joyce

With Brenda Joyce and Johnny Weissmuller in Tarzan and the Huntress

Bomba, the Jungle Boy (1949)

Johnny Sheffield and Peggy Ann GarnerJohnny Sheffield and Peggy Ann GarnerJohnny Sheffield as Bomba

From Monogram's Bomba, the Jungle Boy with Peggy Ann Garner

Bomba on Panther Island (1949)

Johnny Sheffield as BombaJohnny Sheffield as BombaJohnny Sheffield as BombaJohnny Sheffield as Bomba

Bomba on Panther Island was Monogram's second entry in the Bomba series

Bomba and the Hidden City (1950)

Johnny Sheffield and Sue EnglandJohnny Sheffield, Martin Garralaga, Sue England, Lane Bradford, and James Adamson

LEFT: With Sue England in Bomba and the Hidden City. RIGHT: Bomba leads Martin Garralaga, Sue England, Lane Bradford, and James Adamson to safety

African Treasure (1952)

Johnny Sheffield and Laurette Luez

From African Treasure with Laurette Luez

Bomba and the Jungle Girl (1952)

Johnny Sheffield and Karen SharpeJohnny Sheffield and Karen SharpeJohnny SheffieldJohnny Sheffield and Walter SandeJohnny Sheffield and Don Blackman

From Bomba and the Jungle Girl. LEFT and CENTER A: With Karen Sharpe. CENTER B: Captured by Chief Kokoli's tribe. CENTER C: With Walter Sande. RIGHT: Wrestling with Don Blackman

Safari Drums (1953)

Johnny Sheffield as BombaJohnny Sheffield as Bomba

From Safari Drums. LEFT: With Barbara Bestar. RIGHT: Lobby card

The Golden Idol (1954)

Johnny SheffieldAnne Kimbell and Johnny SheffieldAnne Kimbell and Johnny Sheffield

From Allied Artists' The Golden Idol. LEFT: Bomba tries to retreive the Watusi tribe's golden idol. CENTER: With Anne Kimbell. RIGHT: With Kimbbo the chimp

Killer Leopard (1954)

Leonard Mudie, Beverly Garland, and Johnny SheffieldDonald Murphy, Johnny Sheffield, and Beverly GarlandJohnny Sheffield

From the Allied Artists release Killer Leopard. LEFT: With series regular Leonard Mudie and Beverly Garland. CENTER: With Donald Murphy and Beverly Garland. RIGHT: Bomba attempts to rescue Beverly Garland's husband

Lord of the Jungle (1955)

Johnny Sheffield and Wayne MorrisWayne Morris, Nancy Hale, Leonard Mudie, and Johnny Sheffield

From Allied Artists' Lord of the Jungle, the final entry in the Bomba series. LEFT: With Wayne Morris. RIGHT: With Wayne Morris, Nancy Hale, and Leonard Mudie

later years

With the end of the Bomba series in 1955, Sheffield found himself out of film work. He and his father, Reginald Sheffield, produced a television pilot titled Bantu, which was much in the same vein as Bomba, the Jungle Boy. However, the pilot never found a sponsor and was shelved. Sheffield then hung up his loincloth and completed his degree in business at UCLA, becoming successful in real estate and other business enterprises. Married in 1959 to wife Patti, the Sheffields had three children. Sadly, Johnny Sheffield passed away suddenly from a heart attack on October 15, 2010, at the age of 79. He was survived by his wife, sons Stewart and Patrick, daughter Regina, and a grandson.

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Lord of the Jungle (1955) with Wayne Morris, Nancy Hale, Paul Picerni, Leonard Mudie, and Juanita Moore
The Golden Idol (1954) with Anne Kimbell, Paul Guilfoyle, and Leonard Mudie
Killer Leopard (1954) with Beverly Garland, Russ Conway, Donald Murphy, and Leonard Mudie
Safari Drums (1953) with Barbara Bestar, Douglas Kennedy, Leonard Mudie, and Russ Conway
Bomba and the Jungle Girl (1952) with Karen Sharpe, Walter Sande, and Leonard Mudie
African Treasure (1952) with Lyle Talbot, Woody Strode, and Leonard Mudie
Bomba and the Elephant Stampede (1951) with Donna Martell, Myron Healey, and Leonard Mudie
The Lion Hunters (1951) with Morris Ankrum, Ann Todd, Douglas Kennedy, and Woody Strode
Bomba and the Hidden City (1950) with Sue England and Paul Guilfoyle
The Lost Volcano (1950) with Marjorie Lord, Donald Woods, Elena Verdugo, and Tommy Ivo
Bomba on Panther Island (1949) with Allene Roberts and Lita Baron
Bomba, the Jungle Boy (1949) with Peggy Ann Garner
The Sun Comes Up (1949) with Jeanette MacDonald, Lloyd Nolan, Lewis Stone, Percy Kilbride, and Margaret Hamilton
Tarzan and the Huntress (1947) with Johnny Weissmuller, Brenda Joyce, and Patricia Morison
Tarzan and the Leopard Woman (1946) with Johnny Weissmuller, Acquanetta, and Brenda Joyce
Tarzan and the Amazons (1945) with Johnny Weissmuller, Brenda Joyce, Maria Ouspenskaya, Barton MacLane, and Steven Geray
Roughly Speaking (1945) with Rosalind Russell, Jack Carson, Robert Hutton, Andrea King, Ann Doran, Mona Freeman, and Ray Collins
The Great Moment (1944)
The Man in the Half Moon Street (1944)
Tarzan Triumphs (1943) with Johnny Weissmuller and Frances Gifford
Tarzan's Desert Mystery (1943) with Johnny Weissmuller, Nancy Kelly, Otto Kruger, Lloyd Corrigan, and Robert Lowery
Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942) with Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O'Sullivan, Virginia Grey, Charles Bickford, Paul Kelly, and Chill Wills
Million Dollar Baby (1941) with Priscilla Lane and Ronald Reagan
Tarzan's Secret Treasure (1941) with Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O'Sullivan, Reginald Owen, Barry Fitzgerald, and Tom Conway
Little Orvie (1940)
Knute Rockne, All American (1940) with Pat O'Brien, Ronald Reagan, Donald Crisp, and Kane Richmond
Lucky Cisco Kid (1940) with Cesar Romero, Mary Beth Hughes, and Dana Andrews
Babes in Arms (1939) with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland
Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939) with Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O'Sullivan, Henry Wilcoxon, and Laraine Day

johnny sheffield links

Johnny Weissmuller (1904-1984)
The Johnny Weissmuller site, created by Geoff St. Andrews, contains lots of information about the Tarzan series. You'll find a good biography of Johnny Sheffield.

Bomba the Jungle Boy Movie Guide at the Tarzan Movie Guide Site
Matt Winans has created a great tribute page to Johnny Sheffield; included here are many small photos from the Bomba series, biographical information, and an interview with Johnny Sheffield.

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This page premiered July 7, 1999.