Uprooted trees, destroyed roofs, smashed rooms: the hotel and home of American actor Johnny Weissmüller, aka Tarzan, did not withstand the maximum force 5 hurricane that devastated Acapulco in the west from Mexico.
At the top of a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the fuchsia-colored building was the refuge of the jet-set and the last address of the “King of the Jungle” until his death in 1984, at the age of 79, in the famous seaside resort. The love story between Weissmüller and Acapulco began in 1948 during the filming of Tarzan and the Sirens, the last in the series.
For the purposes of the film, the shirtless actor, ex-Olympic swimming champion, threw himself into the sea from the top of “Quebrada”, the famous rock of Acapulco, a natural diving board 45 meters above from the sea. Along with other Hollywood fortunes, including John Wayne, Weissmüller bought the Flamingos Hotel. The two actors converted it into a party place for the stars of the time, away from the paparazzi: Elizabeth Taylor, Lana Turner, Orson Welles, Errol Flynn...
As he grew older, Weissmüller had a house built away from the hotel, where he retired in the last years of his life. On October 25, Hurricane Otis swept away the hotel, symbol of Acapulco's golden age, like the rest of the port, leaving 46 dead and 58 missing. “The swimming pool, which we were renovating, is destroyed,” laments Víctor Manuel Hernández, the current administrative head of Los Flamingos, to AFP. “The hurricane uprooted the trees, broke the windows, trashed the inside of the rooms,” he continues. As for Tarzan's house, “it is totally destroyed,” adds the administrator, referring to the place that Weissmüller once occupied, away from the hotel.
In total, 274,000 homes and 600 hotels were affected by Hurricane Otis which hit the city of 780,000 inhabitants whose economy is mainly focused on tourism. Will the hurricane mark the final end of Acapulco? At the time of its splendor, in the 50s and 60s of the previous century, “the pearl of the Pacific” was an annex of Hollywood. Elizabeth Taylor was married there for the third time. A simple senator, future President John F. Kennedy spent his honeymoon there with his future wife, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier.
At the height of its fame, Mexico's fashionable location inspired dozens of films like Fun in Acapulco starring Elvis Presley, who never set foot in Mexico (the film was shot in California). Sunsets on the beach also inspired musician-singer-poet Agustín Lara, the man from Veracruz forever in love with the star of the golden age of Mexican cinema.
Starting in the 2000s, Acapulco was caught in violence linked to drug trafficking, which reduced the flow of tourists. For the moment, only 10 of the 40 employees of the Flamingos hotel have been able to return to their jobs, due to the still complicated transport conditions in the seaside town. “The situation is sad. But you have to be positive,” sighs the hotel manager. The government has promised a $3.5 billion support plan to help Acapulco recover from its ruins.