The graying, diabetic co-star of a dozen Tarzan action/adventure movies during the 1930s and 1940s celebrated his 74th birthday at his Palm Springs, California, home this month by devouring a sugar-free cake. Representatives from a Spanish film festival also showed up for Sunday’s party to present Cheeta with the first award of his career – an International Comedy Film Festival prize.
Cheeta is now the world’s oldest chimpanzee, according to the Guiness Book or World Records. Most chimpanzees live to no more than 40 in the wild but can read 60 in captivity. A caretaker told the Associated Press than Cheeta is very active and “he still has every tooth in his head.”
Cheeta started his acting career in the 1932 film Tarzan the Ape Man with Johnny Weissmuller. Cheeta’s last acting role was in the 1967 musical film Doctor Doolittle with Rex Harrison.
According to National Geographic, which had profiled Cheeta on his 71st birthday, the retired actor used to spend his spare time riding in a ride in the car with his caretaker, who said that Cheeta “likes to go through the drive-thru and get a hamburger and a Coke.” In his earlier years Cheeta had a penchant for beer and cigars, reportedly drinking several cold ones a day, but gave that up ten years ago when he moved into a new home.
Cheeta supports himself by selling his paintings (see top photo). I’ll let you judge if his talent as a painter is better than that of fellow actor Sylvester Stallone.