Eric Fleming Who Is Remembered for His Role in 'Rawhide' Died in a Tragic Accident at the Age of 41
"Rawhide" television star Eric Fleming, 41, died in a tragic incident. The US Embassy stated that the actor drowned in a remote river while filming a jungle picture in Peru.
The canoe he was riding on together with Peruvian co-star Nico Minardos, capsized along the Huallaga River in Tingo Maria, as reported by St. Petersburg.
Fleming, Minardos, and another British co-star Anne Heywood along with the film crew, traveled by plane to Lima. They then rode a canoe to the jungle.
Minardos swam to safety while Fleming got swept away by the strong current. Rescue authorities held a search to recover his body. Minardos recounted the incident through the now-abandoned Rawhide WS fansite, as published by Medium. He said:
"The thoughts that Eric was out there in the jungle were as haunting as his final words, 'Now or never' are to me today."
Fleming's body was found by the Indians down the river several days after he and the film crew left for Lima. Minardos knew that Fleming was a strong swimmer.
The film crew thought that the actor was all right when they saw him jump in the water. But what happened was the end of the actor's life.
"They had seen Eric jump and figured he was all right. If only they had gone to Eric! I’ll always wonder if it would have made a difference. In any case, I’ll be eternally grateful for that miraculous moment when I was able to reach out and cling to life again," Minardos said.
Fleming’s departure from the show and it’s eventual end saddened many fans.
RISE TO STARDOM
Fleming was the lead role for the first seven seasons of "Rawhide" from 1959 to 1965. He was unarguably one of the biggest stars during that time.
He was best known for his titular role as Gil Favor, the hard-as-nails and cattle drive boss who runs the trails. The show was axed by its director after Fleming's exit, however.
Issues involving money and viewership were said to be the main reasons why he left the show, as reported by METV. Fleming’s departure from the show and it’s eventual end saddened many fans.
The late actor also appeared in several shows such as the "Queen of Outer Space," the rom-com movie "The Glass Bottom Boat," and in some episodes of Western series called "Bonanza."
A native of California, Fleming started looking after himself at the age of 12. He became an actor after doing several odd jobs like waiting tables and working as a carpenter.
He attended acting school and joined the "Happy Birthday" road company afterward. He then landed roles in Broadway productions such as "Stalag 17" and "My Three Angels."