JOHN MATTHEW SHEFFIELD CASSAN
(1931 - 2010)
In late 1938, British actor Reginald Sheffield read a story headline in the Hollywood Reporter (one of the movie industry's best-known trades) which asked...
"Have you a Tarzan Jr. in your backyard?"
Sheffield's second child John had show biz experience, having performed in ON BORROWED TIME on both Broadway and the West Coast. So an audition was set up at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for the 8-year-old to audition for the newly-established role as a son to Johnny Weissmuller's Tarzan and Maureen O'Sullivan's Jane.
When the "kiddie cattle call" was over, star Weissmuller had personally selected the Sheffield moppet over roughly 300 other tykes to play the role of "Boy" in the next Tarzan film about to begin shooting. MGM went along with the Olympian's request.
So, beginning with the 1939 release of TARZAN FINDS A SON, Johnny Sheffield was a member of the Edgar Rice Burroughs / MGM jungle family.
"Big" Johnny and "Little" Johnny made eight Tarzan features together before size and age had Sheffield written out of the series. Weissmuller himself would make only one more ape man movie after "Boy" excited the jungle.
Monogram Pictures, a Poverty Row B-studio had purchased the rights to the Roy Rockwood Bomba the Jungle Boy books and figured that the available Sheffield would be perfect for the role of the Tarzan knock-off character.
So, in 1949, Sheffield made the first of twelve Bomba movies, designed for the small-fry / Saturday matinee / drive-in crowds.
The films made money for both Monogram and the theatres which played the films.
Here in Rowan County, they were mainstays for Salisbury's downtown Victory Theatre, as well as the outlying movie houses in Spencer, Rockwell, China Grove and Landis. The Rowan Drive-In theatres played the Bombas as well.
In 1955, the jungle series was halted and Sheffield, then 24, left show biz for good to enroll in college.
|BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY|
|BOMBA ON PANTHER ISLAND|
|THE LOST VOLCANO|
|THE HIDDEN CITY|
|THE LION HUNTERS|
|BOMBA AND THE JUNGLE GIRL|
|THE GOLDEN IDOL|
|LORD OF THE JUNGLE|