The House of Tarzan, Johnny Weissmüller's refuge in Acapulco

Located in the Flamingos Hotel in Acapulco, The House of Tarzan, once a meeting point for Hollywood stars, maintains its style and continues to be a tourist attraction.

The House of Tarzan, Johnny Weissmüller's refuge in Acapulco
Flamingo hotel in Acapulco. 

Perched on a cliff with a privileged view of the Pacific, the former residence of American actor Johnny Weissmüller, famous for portraying "Tarzan" in numerous films, stands as a vestige of a more glamorous era in the Mexican port city of Acapulco. For more than a century, Acapulco, in the southern state of Guerrero, has been characterized by its impressive nightlife, as well as being featured in dozens of national and international films that have made it a favorite tourist destination for actors and politicians.

The tropical climate was the perfect complement to enjoying its golden beaches, enamoring every visitor with breathtaking sunsets. However, this charm has been diminishing due to a seemingly unstoppable wave of violence that every year has Acapulco disputing first place among the cities with more homicides in Mexico. In times of more pleasant memories, the actor Peter Johann Weissmüller, better known as Johnny Weissmüller, was impressed with every corner of the place after the film "Tarzan and the Sirens" was shot in the port in 1948.

He was particularly taken with the "Los Flamingos" hotel, making this "marvelous paradise" his home. Weissmüller and fellow actor John Wayne became owners of the hotel and decided to create 36 more rooms that turned it into the hideout of 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 period the hotel became a meeting point for the "jet set", hosting the best parties in the port and Mexico. Only actors, politicians, and representatives of the social elite were welcome.

Johnny Weissmüller Tarzan
Johnny Weissmüller Tarzan. Image: Public domain

Although Weissmüller was a good host, the noise caused by the never-ending parties could be heard in his room, which was next to the bar where they took place, so he decided to build a house for him inside the complex, away from the noise. Thinking about every detail of the house, Weissmüller decided to build it in a particular way, referring to each of his films. Known as the "Tarzan House" or "Round House", it is designed like the huts in the film "Tarzan of the Apes", with a circular perimeter, after the natives of Africa told him that in this way evil spirits would not enter his home, since it has no corners.

It is said that when Weissmüller suffered from a chronic brain syndrome, he was driven to scare people by uttering the famous cry of the king of the jungle characteristic of his films in the corridor of his residence.

Inside there are two rooms with bathrooms and a living room, at the entrance, there is a bush with the face of his best friend Cheetah, the chimpanzee that was his filming partner during the Tarzan saga, and the viewpoint is shaped like a crocodile jaw, simulating the teeth with chipped stones. From there descends a cliff twice as high as La Quebrada de Acapulco, where the most emblematic diving show of the port is presented, at 45 meters ( 150 feet) in height. Weissmüller lived at the Casa Redonda for approximately twenty-one years (1963-1984) with his fifth and last wife, Maria Brock Mandell Bauman, until he had to be isolated from everyone around him because he would have angry outbursts every time they visited him.

For this reason, he had to move to a more secluded house in Playa Mimosa, a few miles away. Before his death, he told his wife "The day I die I do not wish to return to the United States because Acapulco is my paradise". Days later he would die of a fulminant heart attack. The remains of "Tarzan" were buried in the Valle de la Luz cemetery on the outskirts of Acapulco, where a monument was built to remember him as the main promoter of the port in Hollywood.

Acapulco House of Tarzan.
The Houe of Tarzan in Acapulco.

After his death, the hotel was sold by his children. Today the Casa Redonda is a museum and is also part of the hotel rental, and can accommodate up to six people. It has a private pool and a lookout point from which you can see La Roqueta Island, Pie de la Cuesta beach, and Puerto Marqués, constituting one of the best views in all of Acapulco.

The hotel never goes out of fashion and for this reason, personalities such as Luis Miguel have visited it, actresses such as Ana de la Reguera were also filming a movie and Plácido Domingo was a distinguished visitor, among other personalities from the artistic, political, and business environment. Those who visit this building can enjoy a select collection of photographs that portray in time the glamour and part of the life of the mythical "Tarzan", whose favorite place was always the garden that leads to the viewpoint, from which the Barra de Coyuca, Pie de la Cuesta and in March and April, the passage of whales, which has become another of the attractions of the place.