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Bruce Bennett

Bruce BennettAKA Herman Brix

Born: 19-May-1906
Birthplace: Tacoma, WA
Died: 24-Feb-2007
Location of death: Santa Monica, CA [1]
Cause of death: Accident - Fall [2]

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Actor, Sports Figure

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Played Tarzan in 1930s movie serials

Bruce Bennett was Edgar Rice Burroughs' choice to play Tarzan. He appeared in more than a hundred films, dating back to the early years of talkies. For much of his career, he was credited under his birth name, Herman Brix, and he won a silver medal in the Los Angeles Olympics of 1932.

As a teenager, he worked as a lumberjack. He lettered in track and field and varsity football at the University of Washington, including a 1926 trip to the Rose Bowl, where he played all 60 minutes but the Huskies lost to Alabama 20-19. Johnny Mack Brown, another athlete who crossed into film, played in the same game, for Alabama's Crimson Tide.

After college, Brix came to Los Angeles, where he worked behind the scenes in silent films but yearned to be in front of the camera. He auditioned for MGM's big budget Tarzan the Ape Man, and was considered a frontrunner for the role, but lost the part after suffering a shoulder separation while playing a football player in another film, Touchdown. It was a lucky break for Johnny Weissmuller, but Burroughs, Tarzan's creator, did not like the changes MGM made to his plot and characters, and decided to produce Tarzan serials himself. When he did, he chose Brix for the role.

In those days, the studios used action-packed cliffhanging serials to lure audiences to the movies, with a new episode every week running before the feature film. Brix became a star in these serials, starting with The New Adventures of Tarzan. His performance as Tarzan remains the only film presentation that was generally true to Burroughs' novels, with the Ape Man portrayed as the sophisticated English nobleman the author envisioned, and speaking in full, flourished sentences, not monosyllabic grunts. The Tarzan serials, later repackaged as feature films, were very popular in foreign markets, but their distribution in America was suppressed by MGM, which was still producing Weismuller Tarzan films.

In other serials, Brix thwarted the evil Bela Lugosi's dastardly plot in Shadow of Chinatown, battled the dreaded Yellow Weasel in Hawk of the Wilderness (easily Brix's best work), and defeated The Lightning -- George Lucas's acknowledged inspiration for Darth Vader -- in The Fighting Devil Dogs.

As Hollywood developed and serials came to be seen as less prestigious -- similar, perhaps, to TV today -- Brix changed his name to the more "normal" sounding "Bruce Bennett" and tried to distance himself from serials. He worked steadily as an actor, if rarely a star, for decades. He played Joan Crawford's wayward husband in Mildred Pierce, played sidekick to Humphrey Bogart in Sahara, he was the hungry prospector who wolfed down Bogey's stew in John Huston's masterpiece Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and he was an aging baseball player in the original Angels in the Outfield. For 1961's low-budget Fiend of Dope Island, Bennett himself wrote the screenplay and played the title role, a marijuana farmer and brutal gun smuggler.

By the 1970s, Bennett had mostly retired from show business and began working in real estate and investing in vending machines, soon earning more money than he had ever made in movies. At age 95, he delivered a pre-game pep talk to his alma mater's Huskies before the 2001 Rose Bowl, a 34-24 victory over Purdue.


[1] Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center.

[2] Complications from a broken hip.

Wife: Jeannette Cannon Braddock (m. 21-Jan-1933, d. 30-Jun-2000, one son, one daughter)
Son: Christopher
Daughter: Christina Katich

    High School: Stadium High School, Tacoma, WA (1924)
    University:
BA Economics, University of Washington (1928)

    Olympic Silver Medal 1928 shot put

    FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
    The Clones (Aug-1973)
    Deadhead Miles (1972)
    The Outsider (1961)
    The Alligator People (Jul-1959) · Dr. Eric Lorimer
    The Cosmic Man (17-Feb-1959)
    Three Violent People (Dec-1956)
    Love Me Tender (15-Nov-1956) · Maj. Kincaid
    Daniel Boone, Trail Blazer (5-Oct-1956)
    The Three Outlaws (13-May-1956)
    The Bottom of the Bottle (1-Feb-1956)
    Robbers' Roost (30-May-1955) · Bull Herrick
    Strategic Air Command (25-Mar-1955) · Gen. Espy
    The Big Tip Off (20-Mar-1955)
    Dream Wife (19-Jun-1953) · Charlie Elkwood
    Sudden Fear (6-Aug-1952) · Steve Kearney
    Angels in the Outfield (17-Oct-1951) · Saul Hellman
    Cavalry Charge (4-Apr-1951)
    The Second Face (1-Dec-1950)
    Shakedown (1-Sep-1950)
    Mystery Street (27-Jul-1950)
    Undertow (1-Dec-1949) · Det. Charles Reckling
    Without Honor (26-Oct-1949)
    The Doctor and the Girl (29-Sep-1949) · Dr. Alfred Norton
    Task Force (30-Aug-1949) · McCluskey
    The Younger Brothers (3-May-1949) · Jim Younger
    Smart Girls Don't Talk (9-Oct-1948) · Marty Fain
    Silver River (18-May-1948) · Stanley Moore
    To the Victor (5-Apr-1948)
    The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (6-Jan-1948) · Cody
    Dark Passage (5-Sep-1947) · Bob
    Cheyenne (6-Jun-1947) · Ed Landers
    Nora Prentiss (21-Feb-1947) · Dr. Joel Merriam
    The Man I Love (11-Jan-1947) · Sam Thomas
    A Stolen Life (6-Jul-1946) · Jack Talbot
    Danger Signal (14-Nov-1945) · Dr. Andrew Lang
    Mildred Pierce (24-Sep-1945) · Albert Pierce
    Sahara (14-Oct-1943) · Waco Hoyt
    The More the Merrier (26-Mar-1943) · Evans
    Submarine Raider (4-Jun-1942) · First Officer Russell
    The Phantom Submarine (20-Dec-1940)
    The Lone Wolf Keeps a Date (23-Nov-1940) · Scotty
    Before I Hang (17-Sep-1940)
    The Lone Wolf Meets a Lady (30-May-1940)
    Escape to Glory (20-May-1940)
    Hi-Yo Silver (10-Apr-1940)
    Daredevils of the Red Circle (10-Jun-1939)
    Hawk of the Wilderness (3-Dec-1938)
    The Lone Ranger (12-Feb-1938)
    Danger Patrol (18-Nov-1937) · Joe
    Sky Racket (1-Oct-1937)
    A Million to One (3-Mar-1937)
    The New Adventures of Tarzan (21-May-1935) · Tarzan



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