Ron Ely

Ron Ely

Highest Rated: 82% South Pacific (1958)

Lowest Rated: 82% South Pacific (1958)

Birthday: Jun 21, 1938

Birthplace: Hereford, Texas, USA

Actor Ron Ely rose to fame in the mid-1960s as the star of "Tarzan" (NBC, 1966-68), but like many of the performers associated with the role, struggled to break free of the image throughout the remainder of his career. Born Ronald Pierce Ely in Hereford, Texas on June 21, 1938, he attended Amarillo High School and later, the University of Texas at Austin before heading west to California in a bid for an acting career in Hollywood. After signing with 20th Century Fox and landing a minor role in "South Pacific" (1958), Ely worked steadily in minor and supporting roles on television before replacing Keith Larsen as one of the leads in the short-lived action-adventure series "The Aquanauts" (CBS, 1960-61). In 1963, Ely auditioned to play Tarzan in the MGM film series based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' jungle adventures, but lost out to former Los Angeles Rams linebacker Mike Henry. He returned to guest roles on television until 1966, when Henry-who had suffered several injuries during the making of his three films as Tarzan-declined to star in a television series based on the Burroughs novels for Warner Bros. Television and producer Sy Weintraub. Filmed in Brazil and later, Mexico, the "Tarzan" series differed from the screen depiction of the jungle king that many audiences remembered from the films starring former Olympian Johnny Weissmuller: Ely's Tarzan was worldly and well-spoken, and had a young orphan and a chimp for companions instead of Jane. The series proved popular during its two-season run on NBC, but upon its cancelation, Ely found it difficult to break free of its influence. Like many other American actors, he initially sought to re-invent himself as the star of several German- and Italian-made Westerns, but eventually returned to the United States in the hopes of parlaying his brief run at stardom into more lasting work. Ely reunited with Warner Bros. for "Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze" (1975), a tongue-in-cheek action feature that, like "Tarzan," was based on a series of popular pulp adventures from the early 20th century. But the film, directed by visual effects specialist George Pal, was an expensive flop, and Ely soon settled into a regular routine of guest roles on episodic series like "Fantasy Island" (ABC, 1978-1984), and occasional hosting duties, most notably for the "60th Annual Miss America Pageant" (NBC, 1980). Ely would later marry a contestant, former Miss Florida USA Valerie Lundeen, and devoted his energies to raising a family with her in Santa Barbara, California, as well as a professional writing career that yielded a pair of mystery novels. He subsequently returned to acting on two occasions, most notably the 2014 Lifetime movie "Expecting Amish," but drew more headlines for a tragic 2019 incident in which his son, Cameron, murdered Lundeen and was then shot by police.

Highest rated movies

South Pacific




No Score Yet No Score Yet Tarzan Revisited Unknown (Character) - 2017
No Score Yet 50% Expecting Amish Elder Miller (Character) - 2014
No Score Yet No Score Yet Slavers Steven Hamilton (Character) - 1977
No Score Yet 58% Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze Clark "Doc" Savage Jr. (Character) - 1975
No Score Yet No Score Yet Masquerade of Thieves Hallelujah (Character) - 1973
No Score Yet No Score Yet Halleluja and Sartana Strike Again Hallelujah (Character) - 1972
No Score Yet No Score Yet Cry of the Black Wolves Bill Robinson (Character) - 1972
No Score Yet No Score Yet Mountain of the Blue Moons Tarzan (Character) - 1967
No Score Yet 53% The Night of the Grizzly Tad Curry (Character) - 1966
No Score Yet 33% Once Before I Die Soldier (Character) - 1966
82% 69% South Pacific Navigator (Character) - 1958


No Score Yet No Score Yet Marker Unknown (Guest Star) 1995
No Score Yet No Score Yet Fantasy Island Unknown (Guest Star) 1979-1980 1982-1984
No Score Yet No Score Yet Hotel Unknown (Guest Star) 1983
100% 86% Wonder Woman Unknown (Guest Star) 1978
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Doris Day Show Unknown (Guest Star) 1971
No Score Yet No Score Yet Courtship of Eddie's Father Unknown (Guest Star) 1969
No Score Yet No Score Yet Tarzan Tarzan (Character),
No Score Yet No Score Yet Thriller Unknown (Character) 1962
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp Arleigh Smith (Guest Star) 1960
No Score Yet 100% Father Knows Best Unknown (Guest Star) 1959