Vintage Hunk: Lex Barker

By: Mike McCrann

"Score one for Mr. Barker. A younger, more streamlined apeman with a personable grin and a torso guaranteed to make any lion cringe, he seems to be just what the witch- doctor ordered for this tattered series." – New York Times review of "Tarzan's Magic Fountain"

Lex Barker was not the most famous movie Tarzan, but he was one of the sexiest actors to ever don a loincloth and swing through the trees. The Johnny Weissmuller MGM 1930s Tarzan movies may be better films thanks to Maureen O'Sullivan and sexy Johnny Sheffield, but the lower budget Barker Tarzan is definitely the hotter jungle man.

Lex Barker was born Alexander Crichlow Barker, Jr in 1919. He came from a wealthy family who disowned him when he dropped out of Princeton to pursue an acting career. After a few small theater roles, Barker enlisted in the US Army where he rose to the rank of Major. Wounded in action, Lex Barker came home and began looking for film work.

In 1949 Lex Barker landed the role of Tarzan. The 6'4" blond hunk was a perfect fit for the iconic hero. Barker starred in a total of 5 Tarzan films. Each of them is fun and Lex Barker is the sole reason why. With his impressive body, distinct chiseled features, and long blond hair, Lex Barker made jungle adventures look sexy.

Along the way Lex Barker was married five times. Marriage #2 to Arlene Dahl lasted a year but his marriage to Lana Turner survived 4 years - practically a record for the much married Turner. If I have any hesitation in featuring Lex Barker it comes from a tell-all book by Turner's only child, Cheryl Crane, published long after his death in which she accuses him of repeated rapes which led to Turner ending the marriage.

In the late 50s Barker went to Europe where he had a successful career in various foreign films. The highlight was his short but prominent role opposite Anita Ekberg in Fellini's masterpiece La Dolce Vita.

Lex Barker died of a heart attack in 1973 at the age of 54. Whether he was guilty of the heinous behavior toward Cheryl Crane is something that is difficult to verify. Barker was dead when the book came out and was unable to defend himself.

Lex Barker was big, blond, built and beautiful. All you have to do is check out any of the 5 Tarzan films to see one of the hunkiest loincloth heroes of them all.