He seemed perfect to play Tarzan...Good looking, a sexy physique, and an acclaimed Olympic sports star. So in 1931, while working on That's My Boy (released in 1932) for Columbia, Buster Crabbe was tested by MGM to play the Tarzan role...but was rejected! Why was the water stud not hired? The studio went with his fellow-Olympic athlete Johnny Weissmuller instead.
The film was released as both a feature and a serial... most houses showed only the first serial episode...which wasn't exactly the hit they wished for. Talk in Hollywood was that the sports star may have been very pretty beefcake, but not much of an actor if he couldn't do well with the limited words and grunts of the Tarzan character. Buster would be quoted as saying:
He acted in 1933's King of the Jungle, 1941's Jungle Man, and the 1952 serial King of the Congo, in which Buster played generic hunky jungle roles using the Tarzan model. The video below is from his appearance in 1933's Search for Beauty...watch the entire clip as it includes Buster taking off his swim trunks to shower (where the shower photo below originated from).
BELOW: BEEFCAKE--1933 STYLE--LOOKS PRETTY DARN SEXY IN 2010!
But it would turn out that Buster didn't need the jungle to find his niche in Hollywood...as VGMH has already covered in comparing Buster and Playgirl model Sam Jones, Crabbe could go on to become Flash Gordon (Jones also played the part).