Mike Henry was born on August 15, 1936, in L.A. A talented athlete, he went on to glory in the NFL, playing for the Steelers (1958-1961) and the Rams (1962-1964).
His stunning good looks and strapping physique caught the eye of Hollywood, plus he had experience — he had popped up in the 1957 exploitation film Curfew Breakers.
Signed to Warner Bros., he began acting anew in 1963, including working on 77 Sunset Strip (1963) and appearing on the super popular The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1963).
His big break came when he was hired to star as Tarzan in a trio of films, all of which were filmed throughout 1965 for a staggered release.
In Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966), he starred opposite blonde bombshell Nancy Kovack (b. 1935).
His love interest in Tarzan and the Great River (1967) was also blonde, Diana Millay (b. 1935), who after the movie was shot began a long gig on Dark Shadows (1966-1969) and in the film Night of Dark Shadows (1971) before retiring.
Finally, Henry mixed it up with Aliza Gur (b. 1944) in Tarzan and the Jungle Boy (1968).
Having had his fill of the role, he passed on an opportunity play Tarzan on TV.
In 1968, Henry had a meaty part in The Green Berets, also appearing in More Dead Than Alive (1969), Number One (1969) and in Howard Hawks's (1896-1977) Rio Lobo (1970) with John Wayne (1907-1979).
He also appeared in the thriller Skyjacked (1972) and the cult hit Soylent Green (1973).
Henry had worked with Burt Reynolds (1936-2018) on an episode of Dan August (1970), and was reunited with him in the hit movie The Longest Yard (1974). Theirs was a fortuitous relationship for Henry, whose Tarzan glory was behind him, but who wound up making his most lasting impression in Reynolds's box-office-busting smashes Smokey and the Bandit (1977), Smokey and the Bandit II (1980) and Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 (1983). In them, he played the moronic son of Jackie Gleason's (1916-1987) Sheriff Buford T. Justice, and while still handsome, he played the idiot so well he was all but unrecognizable as one of the hottest of all the movie Tarzans.
Along the way, Henry had continued doing TV work, but his output had decreased. Post-Smokey 3, he had only one small movie role, as a nameless Russian baddie in Outrageous Fortune (1987).
Sadly, in 1988, Henry retired from acting once diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
Feast your eyes on some of his hottest poses:
Mike Henry is definitely the hottest Tarzan! Handsome, athletic, muscular, hairy…and filled out a loincloth very nicely. Thanks for the fun review of my favorite Tarzan.
Mike was my good friend.
I had a fish net loin cloth made and tack it to
his front door—He loved it.
We all laugh at it for months.
hard to believe that was 50 years ago.