Gene Pollar

Gene Pollar (September 16, 1892 - October 20, 1971) was the screen name of New York City firefighter Joseph Pohler, who in his very brief movie career played Tarzan.[1]

Gene Pollar
Gene Pollar and Karla Schramm in ad (which uses the film's working title)
Joseph Charles Pohler

(1892-09-16)September 16, 1892
DiedOctober 20, 1971(1971-10-20) (aged 79)


At age 28, the 6'2", 215 pound Joseph Charles Pohler became the second actor to portray Tarzan in films. When Numa pictures tried to contract Elmo Lincoln for another film about the apeman, he declined, so one of the Weiss brothers, while on a visit to New York, signed Pohler to a contract to star in The Return of Tarzan, based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' novel The Return of Tarzan, and also changed his name to Gene Pollar.


Pollar was paid $100 per week. The production was sold to Goldwyn Distribution Corporation in April 1920. As a precautionary measure, since it featured a new star, the film was retitled The Revenge of Tarzan just two weeks prior to its opening on July 20, 1920. The film was a success, but Numa refused to release Pollar to accept a contract from Universal Pictures.

Later life

The disgruntled Pollar ended his acting career and returned to firefighting under his original name, Joseph C. Pohler. In 1944, he became a purchasing agent for a retail store chain, for which he worked until his retirement to West Hollywood, Florida.

Pollar emerged briefly from obscurity in 1966 at age 73. That year, a publicity event surrounding the premiere of NBC's Tarzan series brought together several actors who had played the apeman, and the guest of honor was James H. Pierce, then 66, who was dubbed the "oldest living Tarzan". Pollar contacted the media and declared correctly that he was the oldest. "Pierce is just a kid compared to me", he joked. Pollar blamed the mix-up on a New York City paper's erroneous report of his death a few years earlier.

Pollar died in 1971 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at age 79.


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