“Tarzan House” evokes Acapulco’s glamorous past


Nestled on a cliff with a privileged view of the Pacific Ocean is the residence of American actor Johnny Weissmüller - famous for playing Tarzan in numerous films in the 1930s and’40s - standing as a reminder of the Mexican port city of Acapulco’s most glamorous era.

For more than a century, Acapulco, in the southern state of Guerrero, has been known for its impressive nightlife, as well as being the setting for dozens of Mexican and international films that have made it a favorite tourist destination for actors and politicians.

The city’s tropical climate was the perfect complement to enjoying its golden beaches, and many of its visitors fell in love with its breathtaking sunsets.

However, the city’s charm and popularity have been diminishing due to an apparently unstoppable wave of violence that every year has Acapulco competing for first place among the cities with the most homicides in Mexico.

In earlier times, actor Peter Johann Weissmüller, better known as “Johnny,” was impressed by the many out-of-the-way corners of the city after filming the movie “Tarzan and the Mermaids” in 1948.

He was most impressed by the Los Flamingos hotel, a “wonderful paradise” that later became his house, said Juan, a worker and guide at the site.

Weissmüller and iconic actor John Wayne acquired the hotel and decided to add 36 more rooms to turn the tower into a hideaway for the “Hollywood Gang” during the period 1950-1984, hosting figures such as Cary Grant, Fred McMurray, Red Skelton, Rex Allen, Bo Roos, Errol Flynn and Richard Widmark.

During this time the hotel became a meeting place for the “jet set” where the best parties around the port and in Mexico took place. Only actors, politicians and representatives of the social elite were welcome here.

Although Weissmüller was a great host, the noise from the endless parties reached to his private room, which was next to the bar where they were organized, so he decided to build a house for himself inside the complex, to escape the hubbub.

Weissmüller decided to build his new home in a particular way, meticulously contemplating each one of its details and attempting to make references to every single one of his films.

Known as the “Tarzan House” or “Round House,” it was designed to mirror the huts in his movie “Tarzan the Ape Man” (1932), with a circular outer wall, after “natives from Africa told him that evil spirits couldn’t enter his home if it had no corners,” Juan said.