2007-09-28 18:55:33 UTC
Drowns in River in Peru During Filming of Movie
FROM: The New York Times (October 1st 1966) ~
By The United Press International
LIMA, Peru, Sept. 30
Eric Fleming, star of the television series "Rawhide,"
drowned Wednesday during the filming of a
motion-picture scene 220 miles northeast of Lima.
His death was announced here today by the United
Mr. Fleming, who was 41 years old and who was an
excellent swimmer and scuba diver, was swept away
in full view of a crew of 20 when the canoe he was
using filled with water and sank in the swift-flowing
Huallaga River in the Tingo Maria area on the eastern
slope of the Andes. His co-star, Nico Minardos, who
also was in the canoe, escaped unharmed.
Efforts to recover Mr. Fleming's body have been
Mr. Fleming arrived in Lima last Aug. 17 for the filming
of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer production "High Jungle."
Until his success in "Rawhide," Eric Fleming lived a
hand-to-mouth existence. He once said, "I've lived out
of a paper bag all my life."
Even after attaining fame and considerable wealth, he
continued to live quietly in a converted automobile
garage in the Hollywood Hills, and he had few friends
among the movie colony's elite. He was never married.
Itinerant Carpenter's Son
Mr. Fleming was born in Santa Paula, Calif., the son of
an itinerant carpenter. As a child he wore a brace on his
right leg to correct a club foot.
He had been self-supporting since he was 12, and before
becoming an actor he worked as a merchant seaman, a
miner, an ambulance driver, a carpenter, a waiter, a
short-order cook, a longshoreman and an oil field
In World War II he served in the Seabees and after the
war he entered show business as a stagehand. He
attended acting school and joined the road company of
"Happy Birthday" with Marian Hopkins, later playing
roles in a series of stage productions on Broadway,
including "My Three Angels" and "Stalag 17."
He eventually went to Hollywood, where he had small
roles in TV shows and movies until he reached
stardom as the tall (6 foot 3) trail boss of "Rawhide."
The hour-long series of the Columbia Broadcasting
System started in 1959. Mr. Fleming's co-star was
Two years ago Mr. Fleming left the show to follow
his impulse to travel, paint, sculpture and act from time
to time. Last February he said, "I don't want to act
anymore. I'd like to become a teacher. I was never a
great actor. I never expected to be. I'd like to settle
down on the beach in Hawaii.
(w/Sheb Wooley and Clint Eastwood)
Eric Fleming in art:
Not sure which one of these two versions of Rawhide was used on the show
 Contrary to popular belief, Fleming's body was recovered several days