Elmo Lincoln (born Otto Elmo Linkenhelt; February 6, 1889 – June 27, 1952) was an American stage and film actor whose career in motion pictures spanned the silent and sound eras. He performed in over 100 screen productions between 1913 and 1952 and was the first actor to portray on film novelist Edgar Rice Burroughs' fictional "jungle" character Tarzan, initially appearing in that role in the 1918 release Tarzan of the Apes.
Otto Elmo Linkenhelt
February 6, 1889
Rochester, Indiana, U.S.
|Died||June 27, 1952 (aged 63)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Hollywood Forever Cemetery|
|Spouse(s)||Sadie Whited (1913–1921)|
Ida Lee Tanchick (1935–?)
Lincoln was born Otto Elmo Linkenhelt in Rochester, Indiana. He had six siblings, and he left home at 18 to begin a railroad career as a brakeman on a train. He went on to be a boxer, sailor, and stevedore before he became an actor.
Lincoln began acting for director D. W. Griffith, who changed the performer's name. Lincoln's first role was in The Battle of Elderbush Gulch (1914), followed by Judith of Bethula (1914), The Birth of a Nation (1915), and Intolerance (1916).
Stellan Windrow, who initially portrayed the title character in 1918's Tarzan of the Apes, went into military service five weeks after filming began. Lincoln replaced Windrow, although author Edgar Rice Burroughs objected to the choice. Lincoln became best known for that role. (Gordon Griffith played Tarzan as a child in the same movie). He portrayed the character twice more—in The Romance of Tarzan (also 1918) and in the 1921 serial The Adventures of Tarzan.
Following the end of the silent movie era, Elmo left Hollywood and tried his hand at mining. He also had a salvage business in Salt Lake City. In the late 1930s, he returned to the film industry, most often employed as an extra. He appeared, uncredited, in two Tarzan films in the 1940s—as a circus roustabout in Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942), and as a fisherman repairing his net in Tarzan's Magic Fountain (1949).
Tarzan of the Apes (1918)
The Romance of Tarzan (1918)
Tarzan's agility, speed, and strength allow him to kill a Leopard in 1921's The Adventures of Tarzan.
His final work saw him also playing a brief, uncredited role in the 1952 film Carrie, starring Laurence Olivier. According to Tarzan of the Movies, by Gabe Essoe, Lincoln was quite proud of his work in this film, as he was an admirer of Olivier.
Lincoln's daughter, Marci'a Lincoln Rudolph, recounts his life in her 2001 book My Father, Elmo Lincoln: The Original Tarzan (ISBN 1-58690-000-5).