By no means is Weissmuller broke. He receives no income from his Tarzan movies, but residuals for Jungle Jim, product endorsements and personal appearances yield a substantial sum. However, his expenses also run high, swollen as they are by payments for back taxes and what he has to spend to maintain the image of the retired movie star. "When I'm in a hotel, I have to give the maid at least $5," Weissmuller says. "It's partly because she expects it of me. But it's also so she won't steal my tie as a souvenir."
There is no way that Davis or anybody else could possibly protect Weissmuller from all the would-be despoilers. Their ranks include motel owners who succeed in getting free newspaper publicity by fibbing that they discovered Weissmuller taking midnight dips in their swimming pools. On personal appearances, Weissmuller is forever being asked to pose in a loincloth, and he still shudders about the time somebody perched a monkey on his shoulder during ceremonies at the Swimming Hall of Fame, whereupon the animal proceeded to make itself very much at home at his expense.
Everything considered, Weissmuller holds up rather well under the indignities he is sometimes condemned to suffer. On the day he lunched at Stan's, he and Maria went out for the evening, ending up at a Polynesian restaurant for nightcaps. The Weissmullers were sitting at a small table listening to a ukulele player sing of grass shacks and little fishes when a man at the bar a few feet away suddenly began singing a very loud and off-key version of Granada.
"Hey, buddy," called Weissmuller good-naturedly. "I think you've got the wrong island."
"Well, at least I don't swing from trees," the man shot back.
With that, the fellow hoisted himself off the barstool and began dancing around the Weissmuller table, beating his chest and scratching under his arms in what he loudly proclaimed to be an imitation of Cheetah. As heads turned in the direction of the Weissmullers, the man stopped and glowered at Maria. His stomach bulged over his belt.
"And this is Jane, I s'pose?" he demanded.
The Hawaiian music continued, but it is doubtful that anybody in the bar was listening to it now. Leaning forward in his chair, Weissmuller eyed the stranger evenly. "I'd like you to meet my wife, Maria Weissmuller," he said with great dignity.
The man's voice went soft. "How do you do?" he replied awkwardly. As he backed away, he nearly bumped into a cocktail waitress, a well-tanned young woman molded into a red sarong. He grabbed her by the waist and began spinning her around the floor.
The following afternoon, a bright and balmy day, Weissmuller decided to go swimming. Shunning the tiny pool outside his apartment, one so shallow, he complains, that "every time I take a stroke I scrape my fingernails on the bottom," he went to the Olympic-size pool at the Hall of Fame. As word of his presence spread, the inevitable crowd of youngsters collected, and when Weissmuller paddled to one side of the pool they drew him into conversation.