Johnny Sheffield, who played Boy in the Tarzan movies and Bomba the Jungle Boy, passed on October 15, 2010 at the age of 79. The cause was a heart attack.
Johnny Sheffield was born in Pasadena, California on April 11, 1931. His father, Reginald Sheffield, had been a child actor who appeared in silent movies and on Broadway.
It was in 1938 that Johnny Sheffield made his acting debut in the West Coast production of the Broadway play On Borrowed Time. He would later appear in the play on Broadway as a replacement. He made his film debut in an uncredited role in The Man on the Rock (1938). It was in 1939 that he first played Boy in the movie Tarzan Finds a Son. He would go onto appear in Tarzan's Secret Treasure (1941), Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942), Tarzan Triumphs (1943), Tarzan's Desert Mystery (1943), Tarzan and the Amazons (1945), Tarzan and the Leopard Woman (1946), and Tarzan and the Huntress (1947). He also appeared in the films Babes in Arms (1939), Little Orvie (1940), Lucky Cisco Kid (1940), Knute Rockne All American (1940), Million Dollar Baby (1941), Roughly Speaking (1945), and The Sun Comes Up (1949).
In 1949 Johnny Sheffield starred in the movie Bomba the Jungle Boy, based on the Stratemeyer Syndicate boy's adventure novels published from 1926 to 1938. He would appear in eleven more Bomba movies, including Bomba on Panther Island (1949), The Lost Volcano (1950), Bomba and the Hidden City (1950),
The Lion Hunters (1951, The Elephant Stampede (1951), African Treasure, 1952, Bomba and the Jungle Girl, 1952, Safari Drums (1953), The Golden Idol (1954), Killer Leopard (1954), and Lord of the Jungle (1955). After the Bomba series had run its course, in 1956, Johnny Sheffield's father, Reginald Sheffield, produced a pilot for a TV series entitled Bantu the Zebra Boy. It did not find a sponsor and as a result a series never materialised.
Mr. Sheffield earned a business degree from UCLA and worked for a company that farmed various crops in Yuma, Arizona. He later went into real estate in California, and afterwards worked for a company that imported lobsters from Baja California. He eventually became a contractor.
Johnny Sheffield was hardly a great actor, but he played the parts of Boy and Bomba well. While the later Tarzan films and especially the Bomba movies can hardly be considered classics, they were entertaining adventure movies that seemed perfectly suited to little boys watching in the cinema or at home on television on a Saturday afternoon. As both Boy and Bomba, Mr. Sheffield was rather convincing, as if he had been born to the part. Indeed, he had continued to receive fan mail to this day, decades after he had given up acting.
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