Gordon Scott

Gordon Scott (August 3, 1926[1]  April 30, 2007[1]) was an American film and television actor known for his portrayal of the fictional character Tarzan in five films (and one compilation of three made-as-a-pilot television episodes) of the Tarzan film series from 1955 to 1960. Gordon Scott was the eleventh Tarzan, starting with Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle (1955). He was "discovered" poolside, and offered "a seven-year contract, a loin cloth, and a new last name."[2]

Gordon Scott
As Hercules for a 1965 ABC Television special
Gordon Merrill Werschkul

(1926-08-03)August 3, 1926
DiedApril 30, 2007(2007-04-30) (aged 80)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.[1]
Resting placeKensico Cemetery
Valhalla, New York
Years active19551967
Height6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Janice Mae Wynkoop
(m. 1948; div. 1949)

Vera Miles
(m. 1956; div. 1960)

Early life, education and military service

He was born Gordon Merrill Werschkul in Portland, Oregon, one of nine children of advertising man Stanley Werschkul and his wife Alice.[3] Scott was raised in Oregon and attended the University of Oregon, located in Eugene, Oregon, for one semester.

Upon leaving school, he was drafted into the United States Army in 1944. He served as a drill sergeant and military policeman until he was honorably discharged in 1947. He then worked at a variety of jobs until 1953 when he was spotted by a talent agent while working as a lifeguard at the Sahara Hotel and Casino, located on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada.


"Due in part to his muscular frame and 6-foot-3-inch [1.91-metre] height, he was quickly signed to replace Lex Barker as Tarzan"[4] by producer Sol Lesser. Lesser had Gordon change his name because "Werschkul" sounded too much like "Weismueller".[5]

Scott's Tarzan movies ranged from rather cheap re-edited television pilots to large-scale action films with high-production values shot on location in Africa. In his early Tarzan films, he played the character as unworldly and inarticulate, in the mold of Johnny Weissmuller, an earlier Tarzan portrayer. In Scott's later films, after a change in producers, he played a Tarzan who was educated and spoke perfect English, as in the original Edgar Rice Burroughs novels. Scott was the only actor to play Tarzan in both styles.

Fearing he would become typecast as Tarzan, Scott moved to Italy and became a popular star in epics of the péplum genre (known in the United States as sword-and-sandal), featuring handsome bodybuilders as various characters from Greek and Roman myth. Scott was a friend of Steve Reeves, and collaborated with him as Remus to Reeves's Romulus in Duel of the Titans (1961). Scott also played Hercules in a couple of international co-productions during the mid-1960s. As the péplum genre faded, Scott starred in spaghetti westerns and Eurospy films. His final film appearance was in The Tramplers (filmed in 1966; released in the United States in 1968).

Personal life

Scott was married two times. His first marriage was with Janice Mae Wynkoop of Oakland, California. They met when he was a lifeguard at Lake Temescal, located in Oakland, California. The couple married in Reno, Nevada, in 1948, and had one child, Karen Judith Werschkul (born August 26, 1948), before divorcing in 1949. He was married to actress Vera Miles, his Tarzan co-star, from 1956 to 1960. He had one son with Miles – Michael, born 1957 – and possibly several other children.[6][7]

For the last two decades of his life, Scott was a popular guest at film conventions and autograph shows.[6]


Scott died, aged 80, in Baltimore, Maryland of lingering complications from multiple heart surgeries earlier in the year.[8][7] He is buried in the Kensico Cemetery, located in Valhalla, New York.


Tarzan films

Year Title Roles Notes
1955Tarzan's Hidden JungleTarzanScott married co-star Vera Miles
1957Tarzan and the Lost SafariTarzanthe first Tarzan film successfully shot and released in color
1958Tarzan's Fight for LifeTarzanScott's only Tarzan film to include the character Jane
1958Tarzan and the TrappersTarzanfailed television pilot; not aired until 1966
1959Tarzan's Greatest AdventureTarzanSean Connery co-starred as a villain
1960Tarzan the MagnificentTarzanScott's successor in the Tarzan role, Jock Mahoney, played the villain

Other roles

Year Title Genre Role Notes
1961Maciste contro il vampiro
(also known as Goliath and the Vampires)
peplumMaciste / Goliath
1961Samson and the Seven Miracles of the World
(also known as Maciste alla corte del Gran Khan
sword and sandalMaciste / Samson
1961Duel of the Titans
(also known as Romolo e Remo)
sword and sandalRemus
1962Kerim, Son of the Sheikadventure filmKerim
1962Gladiator of Rome
(also known as Il gladiatore di Roma)
adventure filmMarcus
1962A Queen for Caesar
(also known as Una regina per Cesare)
historical drama filmJulius Caesar
1963Zorro and the Three MusketeersswashbucklerZorro
1963The Shortest DaycomedySoldatoUncredited
1963L'eroe di Babilonia
(also known as The Beast of Babylon Against the Son of Hercules)
adventure filmNippur
1963Goliath and the Rebel SlavepeplumGoliath / Gordian
1963The Lion of St. Markadventure filmManrico Venier
1963Hercules Against Moloch
(also known as The Conquest of Mycene)
sword and sandalGlaucus ('Hercules')
1964Coriolanus: Hero without a Countryhistorical drama filmCoriolanus
1964Hero of Rome
(also known as Il colosso di Roma)
historical drama filmGaius Mucius Scaevola
1964Karim ibn el sheikh
(also known as Karim, the Sheikh's Son)
1964Buffalo Bill, Hero of the Far West
(also known as Buffalo Bill, l'eroe del far wes)
spaghetti westernColonel William "Buffalo Bill" Cody
1965Hercules and the Princess of Troyfantasy filmHerculestelevision pilot
1965The Tramplers
(also known as Gli uomini dal passo pesante)
spaghetti westernLon Cordeen
1967Danger!! Death Rayspy filmBart Fargo
1967Top SecretEurospy filmJohn Sutton(final film role)

See also


  1. "Gordon Scott". ERBzine. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
  2. Joi. "Tarzan Star Gordon Scott Dies". Archived from the original on 22 September 2007. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  3. 1930 U.S. Census, Concord, Oregon.
  4. "gordon scott (1926-2007)". Brian's Drive-In Theater. July 18, 2014. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  5. "Gordon Scott". Archived from the original on September 27, 2011.
  6. Bernstein, Adam (May 4, 2007). "Gordon Scott; Him Tarzan In '50s, Only Better". The Washington Post.
  7. "Jungle Drums". Tarzan.CC.
  8. Bergan, Ronald (8 June 2007). "Gordon Scott". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
Preceded by
Lex Barker
Succeeded by
Denny Miller
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