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‘Tarzan’ actor Ron Ely’s wife killed; son shot by deputies

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / Dec. 28, 1987
                                “Tarzan” actor Ron Ely is seen here in 1987 in Los Angeles. His wife was killed at Ely’s Southern California home and sheriff’s deputies fatally shot their son on the property Tuesday night, authorities said today.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS / Dec. 28, 1987

    “Tarzan” actor Ron Ely is seen here in 1987 in Los Angeles. His wife was killed at Ely’s Southern California home and sheriff’s deputies fatally shot their son on the property Tuesday night, authorities said today.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. >> “Tarzan” actor Ron Ely’s wife was stabbed to death in their Southern California home by their son, who deputies found outside the house and fatally shot, authorities said Wednesday.

Deputies summoned to the home by a 911 call found Valerie Lundeen Ely, 62, dead with multiple stab wounds shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday, a Santa Barbara County sheriff’s statement said.

The deputies identified the couple’s son, 30-year-old Cameron Ely, as the suspect, and found him outside the home after a search, the statement said.

Cameron Ely posed an unspecified threat to deputies, four of whom opened fire and killed him, authorities said.

Ron Ely, 81, played the title character on the NBC series “Tarzan,” which ran from 1966 to 1968.

There was no report of him being injured. An earlier sheriff’s statements said an elderly man in the home was taken to a hospital for evaluation.

Ely was host of the Miss America pageant in 1980 and 1981 and later married Valerie Ely, a former Miss Florida. The couple had three children.

The home in Hope Ranch, a suburb of luxury homes outside Santa Barbara, is one of two addresses listed in public records for Cameron Ely. It is not clear whether he had been living with his parents.

The tall, musclebound actor was not quite as well-known as Johnny Weismuller, the Olympic swimmer who played the “Tarzan” role in movies in the 1930s and 40s, but formed the image of the shirtless, loincloth-wearing character remembered by many in the baby-boom generation.

Tarzan was a fictional character raised in the African jungle where he was obeyed wild animals.

Ron Ely also played the title character in the 1975 action film “Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze,” but otherwise had mostly small roles in TV and films including the 1958 movie musical “South Pacific.”

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