It's a sad fact that we often do not recognize someone's
greatness or the significance of their contributions until they pass away. Such
is the case with that late, great ape, Cheetah (or Cheeta, as he preferred to have his name spelled) who passed away Christmas
Eve at the age of 80. And so belatedly, to acknowledge this legendary hominid,
we have decided to posthumously award him the "Where's Whitey?" lifetime
Cheeta's accomplishments are legion, but he is best known as the
chimpanzee sidekick in the Tarzan series beginning with "Tarzan the Ape Man" (1932). No second banana, he was always there
to put a witty, sardonic edge to the dullard dialogue of his co-star Johnny
Weismuller - and clearly outclassed his partner/rival in the contest for the
affections of Jane, played by Maureen
O'Sullivan. The bon vivant chimp revealed this and much more fascinating behind-the-scenes scuttlebutt in his saucy, shocking, tell-all
autobiography, "Me, Cheeta."
Even after his retirement Cheeta remained active, exploring new
talents while exercising old ones. As reported in the "Huffington Post," "Cheetah [sic]... loved finger painting and liked to see people laugh."
Not that he was all monkey business. He remained a true pro and
perfectionist to the end. As the "Huntington Post" also noted, "when the chimp didn't like what was going on,
he would throw feces."
He'll be missed.
READ MORE: The Year in Monkey News, and other stories from the Phoenix's Monkey Issue