“Tarzan” actor Ron Ely’s wife was stabbed to death last Tuesday, October 15 in their California home by their 30-year-old son, who was then shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies, authorities said Wednesday. Ely himself was not injured.
Deputies summoned to the home by a 911 call found Valerie Lundeen Ely, 62, dead with multiple stab wounds shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday, a Santa Barbara County sheriff’s statement said. Deputies spoke to Ron Ely and, after identifying his 30-year-old son Cameron Ely as the suspect, found him outside the home in Hope Ranch, a luxury suburb of Santa Barbera. Cameron Ely presented a threat to the four officers, who opened fire and killed him.
It was apparently Cameron Ely himself who had made the 911 call, saying that it was his 81-year-old father who had committed the murder of his mother. According to a police dispatch recording, the caller was out of breath and crying.
There was no report of Ron Ely being injured. Authorities confirmed he was at the home during the stabbing and the shooting, and an earlier sheriff’s statement said an elderly man in the home was taken to a hospital for evaluation, which we presume was Mr. Ely.
The home where the killings took place is one of two addresses listed in public records for Cameron Ely. It is not clear whether he had been living with his parents.
Ron Ely, 81, played the title character on the NBC series Tarzan, which ran from 1966 to 1968. He also played the title character in the 1975 action film Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, but otherwise had mostly small roles in TV and films including the 1958 movie musical South Pacific.
He was host of the Miss America pageant in 1980 and 1981 and later married Valerie Ely, a former Miss Florida. The couple had three children.
Ely retired from acting to focus on his family in 2001, but returned briefly in 2014 in the TV movie Expecting Amish.