Ron Ely: Woman found dead at Tarzan star's California home

Actor Ron Ely in 2012Image copyright
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Actor Ron Ely in 2012

California police have killed a suspect in the fatal stabbing of a woman at a home reported to be owned by Ron Ely, star of the 1960s Tarzan TV series.

Officers discovered the woman’s body while responding to a “family disturbance” call on Tuesday evening.

After a search, police traced the suspect on the Santa Barbara-area property, and deemed that he “presented a threat”, authorities said.

Several officers shot and fatally wounded the suspect.

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Silver Screen Collection

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Ron Ely plays Tarzan in the television series of that name, circa 1967

US media said the home belongs to Ely, 81, an actor best known for his role in the Tarzan TV show that aired on NBC between 1966-68, and the 1975 film Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze.

A disabled elderly male resident was found in the residence and evacuated to a nearby hospital, said police. This was the victim’s husband, CNN reports.

TMZ quotes police sources as saying the slain victim was Ely’s wife, former Miss Florida Valerie Lundeen, 62.

The couple have two daughters, Kirsten and Kaitland, and a son, Cameron.

A statement from Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office gave no further details of the names, relationships or motives of those involved in the “active and ongoing criminal investigation”.

All officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, the release said, as is protocol following a shooting.

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Silver Screen Collection

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Ron Ely poses for the 1966 Tarzan TV series

Ely took a break from acting between 2001-14 when he returned to the small screen to play an Amish elder in the Lifetime movie Expecting Amish.

He told the Charlotte Observer when the film came out: “I stepped out of acting to raise a family and be able to spend more time with them here in Santa Barbara.

“Now, all the kids are through college with advance degrees. My family asked me, ‘what are you hanging around for?'”

He was also a novelist, penning two action thrillers, Night Shadows, published in 1994, and East Beach, released a year later.

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Getty Images

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Ron Ely and his wife Valerie Lundeen at a tennis match in New York City in June 1977