Joe Lara, the actor and musician best known for playing the titular role in Tarzan: The Epic Adventures, has passed away at age 58. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lara died with his wife, Gwen Shamblin Lara, along with five others in a plane crash near Nashville. "Our efforts have transitioned from a rescue effort to that of a recovery effort. … We are no longer … looking for live victims at this point," Rutherford County Fire Rescue Capt, Joshua Sanders, said in a statement this morning.
The Cessna C501 took off from Smyrna Rutherford County Airport around 11 AM before crashing into the Percy Priest Lake near Smyrna, Tennessee. According to the report, authorities have yet to release registration information for the plane, but they knew it was supposed to arrive at the Palm Beach International Airport in Florida.
Born William Joseph Lara in San Diego on October 2, 1962, Lara was a model before his acting career took off. His first appearance as Tarzan came in the TV movie Tarzan in Manhattan in 1989. He made various film and television appearances, including in an episode of Baywatch, before playing Tarzan/John Clayton in Tarzan: The Epic Adventures from 1996-2000. Lara's final onscreen appearance was in Summer of '67 back in 2018. Throughout his career, he also appeared in various action movies, including Sunset Heat (1992), American Cyborg: Steel Warrior (1993), Final Equinox (1995), and Doomsdayer (2000)
Lara was also a martial artist and musician, and he ended up switching to a career in country music back in 2002. He released an album titled Joe Lara: The Cry of Freedom in 2009. Lara married Gwen Shamblin Lara, a controversial figure known for creating a "faith-based" weight loss program called Weigh Down Workshop, in 2018.
According to News Channel 5 in Nashville, a text was sent to Lara's Brentwood-based Remnant Fellowship that listed the other victims of the crash as church leaders David and Jennifer Martin, Jonathan and Jessica Walters. Gwen Shamblin Lara's son-in-law, Brandon Hannah, was also reported to be on board. Brandon's wife, Elizabeth, was not believed to be on the plane.
Lara and his wife lived in Brentwood, Tennessee. He is survived by his daughter from a previous marriage, Liana.