‘Tarzan’ Star Ron Ely’s Wife Found Dead At 62, Murder Suspect Killed In Shootout At Actor’s Home

Valerie Lundeen, a former Miss Florida, was murdered at the couple's home.

Barbara Bouchet, Ron Ely and Fernando Lamas from the television series Tarzan.
NBC Television / Wikimedia Commons

Valerie Lundeen, a former Miss Florida, was murdered at the couple's home.

Ron Ely, the actor who played Tarzan on the 1960s TV series of the same name, is at the center of a double murder scene that involved at least one member of his family. Two people were killed at the 81-year-old actor’s home on Tuesday night, TMZ reports.

Ely’s 62-year-old wife, Valerie Lundeen Ely, was found dead at the actor’s California residence, and the suspect in her murder was killed in a shootout involving a sheriff’s deputy following a standoff.

Deputies reportedly responded to a domestic disturbance call at Ely’s home on the Hope Ranch property in Santa Barbara County. When police arrived on the scene, the body of an older woman was discovered. After it was determined that the woman had reportedly been stabbed to death, police searched the area for the suspect, who was ultimately killed by a deputy.

TMZ obtained police dispatch audio in which a first responder describes an “elderly gentleman”—possibly Ely—on the scene saying his son was somehow involved in the incident. The male suspect reportedly “presented a threat,” per the sheriff’s department. Deputies shot and killed him once he was found on the premises.

In addition, Lt. Erik Raney of the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office told CNN that Ely, who now has a speech impediment due to a medical condition, said that another family member was involved in the alleged stabbing.

Ely was not injured following the tragic incident at his home, which incidentally, is currently listed for sale for $4.9 million.

Ely married his wife Valerie, a former Miss Florida, in 1984. They had three children together — Kirsten, Kaitland, and Cameron.

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Ely found his big break on 1960s TV, a franchise that spawned multiple big-screen movies, and he went on to guest roles on shows like The Love Boat and Fantasy Island in the 1970s. But the star ultimately quit acting to be an author, in part so he could spend more time with his wife and three children. In an interview with The Daily Express, Ely explained his career change.

“Late in life, I had a young family. I decided to stop acting and work at home, as an author, that way I could be with the kids all through school and be able to attend their sports games and things.”

Tarzan aired on NBC from 1966 to 1968. Ely also starred in Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze. Although he retired from acting, Ely came out of retirement in 2014 for the Lifetime movie, Expecting Amish.