Mike Henry (American football)

Michael Dennis Henry (August 15, 1936 – January 8, 2021) was an American actor and NFL football linebacker. He was best known for his role as Tarzan in the 1960s trilogy and as Junior in the Smokey and the Bandit film series.

Mike Henry
Michael Dennis Henry

(1936-08-15)August 15, 1936
DiedJanuary 8, 2021(2021-01-08) (aged 84)
OccupationFootball linebacker, actor
Years active1957–1988 (actor)
1958–1964 (football player)
Cheryl Sweeney
(m. 1984)

Football career
No. 68, 37, 53
Career information
NFL Draft:1958 / Round: 9 / Pick: 100
Career history
Career NFL statistics
Games played:76
Fumble recoveries:6
Player stats at NFL.com

Football careerEdit

Michael Henry's football career as a linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers (1958–1961) and the Los Angeles Rams (1962–1964) led him to be noticed by Warner Bros.[1]

Acting careerEdit

Henry's most prominent role was as Tarzan in three 1960s movies Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966), Tarzan and the Great River (1967), and Tarzan and the Jungle Boy (1968) that were all filmed back-to-back in 1965.[2] At the time, critics said the dark-haired, square-jawed, muscular Henry resembled classic illustrations of the apeman more than any other actor who had taken on the role.[citation needed] Henry turned down the lead of the subsequent Tarzan television series, which then went to Ron Ely.[citation needed]

Henry is probably best known to movie audiences for playing Jackie Gleason's character's dim-witted son "Junior" in the highly popular Smokey and the Bandit comedies, starring Burt Reynolds and Sally Field.[1]

Henry portrayed a corrupt prison guard in The Longest Yard (1974).[2][3] Henry played Sergeant Kowalski in The Green Berets (1968), Luke Santee in More Dead Than Alive (1968), and corrupt Sheriff "Blue Tom" Hendricks in Rio Lobo (1970).[2][3] He also acted with Charlton Heston in three films: the football movie Number One (1969), Skyjacked (1972), and Soylent Green (1973).[1]

Henry played Lt. Col. Donald Penobscot in an episode of the television series M*A*S*H.[2][3] In another football-oriented role, he portrayed Tatashore, one of the members of the gang who kidnap Larry Bronco (Larry Csonka) in the "One of Our Running Backs Is Missing" episode of The Six Million Dollar Man.[2]

Personal lifeEdit

Henry and his wife Cheryl Henry, were married in 1984.[1][4][3] Together they have a daughter, Shannon Noble.[1][4][3]

Illness and deathEdit

After being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, he retired from acting in 1988. Henry died on January 8, 2021 at the age of 84 at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California, after years of complications from both Parkinson's disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.[1][2][4][3]



  1. ^ a b c d e f Bosselman, Haley. "Mike Henry, NFL Player and Actor, Dies at 84". Variety. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Haring, Bruce. "Mike Henry Dies: USC Footballer, LA Ram, Played 'Tarzan' And 'Junior' In 'Smokey And The Bandit', Was 84". Deadline. Retrieved August 4, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Miller, Madison. "Former Tarzan Actor and NFL Player Mike Henry Died Aged 84". EuroWeekly. Retrieved August 4, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Miller, Madison. "'Smokey The Bandit' and 'Tarzan' Actor, NFL Player Mike Henry Dead at 84-Years-Old". Outsider. Retrieved August 4, 2021.

External linksEdit