Mike Henry, Tarzan Actor and NFL Player, Dies at 84

NFL player and Tarzan star Mike Henry has died at the age of 84. His family announced today that he actually passed on January 8 at Burbank's St. Joseph Medical Center. He had been managing chronic traumatic encephalopathy and Parkinson's disease for years. His health issues stemmed from head injuries incurred as a football player at the University of Southern California and the NFL. Henry might have made his name on the gridiron, but things really picked up for him when he starred in that series of Tarzan films. In fact, his star rose even higher after working with Burt Reynolds on the Smokey and the Bandit franchise. He would work on a number of entertainment projects before deciding to retire in 1988 due to the effects of Parkinson's disease.

"You could not find anyone who ever spoke ill of Mike. He was one of the loveliest men ever to grace this earth," his wife Cheryl Henry told Variety.

Weirdly enough, when a city council member saw him play football in high school, Henry was recruited to USC. After a standout career there, he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. After some years in the Steel City, he looked towards Hollywood for his next move. The former Trojan asked for a transfer to the Rams, which was where his acting career really took off.


Some of Henry's acting credits include three appearances in Smokey and the Bandit, Smokey and the Bandit II, and Smokey and the Bandit Part 3. In those action comedies, he played Jackie Gleason's son Junior. He got his big break in Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966), Tarzan and the Great River (1967), and Tarzan and the Jungle Boy (1968). Also of note were Soylent Green (1973), The Green Berets (1968), and The Longest Yard (1974). On the TV side, he appeared in General Hospital, Fantasy Island, The Six Million Dollar Man, and 77 Sunset Strip.