HomeNewsJoe Lara, ‘Tarzan: The Epic Adventures’ Star, Dies in Plane Crash at 58

Joe Lara, ‘Tarzan: The Epic Adventures’ Star, Dies in Plane Crash at 58

by Emily Morgan
(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Joe Lara, the star of the television series “Tarzan: The Epic Adventures,” has died after sustaining injuries in a plane crash. According to the authorities, the tragic incident took place near Nashville. Other fatalities include his wife and five others. Lara was 58.

On Saturday, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, a Cessna C501 plummeted into Percy Priest Lake near Smyrna, Tennessee, after taking off from Smyrna Rutherford County Airport at about 11 a.m. CT.

Authorities have yet to release registration information for the plane. At the time, the plan was being piloted to Palm Beach International Airport in Florida.

Per Rutherford County Fire Rescue Capt. Joshua Sanders, the rescue crews arrived at the crash scene late Saturday and had planned to work through the night. At the news conference, he indicated that there were no survivors.

“Our efforts have transitioned from a rescue effort to that of a recovery effort. … We are no longer … looking for live victims at this point,” he said.

Among those on board with Lara was his wife, Gwen Lara. Gwen was an author and diet guru. She founded the faith-based Weigh Down Workshop and the Remnant Fellowship Church in 1999. The two got married in 2018.

Joe Lara was born William Joseph Lara in San Diego on Oct. 2, 1962. He began working as a model before landing the lead role in the 1989 CBS telefilm Tarzan in Manhattan. In the series, his character found the King of the Jungle in New York in an attempt to rescue his chimp, Cheetah.

’90s Film Star Joe Lara & Family Perish in Plane Crash

Afterward, he played the Edgar Rice Burroughs character from 1996 to 1997 in the first-run syndicated series Tarzan: The Epic Adventures, filmed in South Africa. In addition to acting, he also produced that series. 

Additionally, Lara also appeared in action movies such as 1992’s Sunset Heat, 1993’s American Cyborg: Steel Warrior, 1995’s Final Equinox, and 2000’s Doomsdayer. He also had roles in television series, such as “Baywatch” and “Conan.”

Moreover, he played guitar and even released an album titled Joe Lara: The Cry of Freedom in 2009.

Lara and his wife lived in Brentwood, Tennessee. Survivors also include his daughter, Liana. In addition to the Laras, the victims were later identified as Jennifer J. Martin, David L. Martin, Jessica Walters, Jonathan Walters, and Brandon Hannah, also from Brentwood.

Jennifer and David Martin and Jonathan and Jessica Walters were church leaders. Brandon Hannah was also Gwen Lara’s son-in-law.

Before the identities of the victims were announced, their church issued a statement that read, in part: “The Shamblins, Hannahs and Laras appreciate your concern, support and prayers.”