Joe Lara Movies – Chronicling The Life And Death Of The Tarzan Actor

Joe Lara
image source
Profile summary of Joe Lara
  • Name: William Joseph Lara
  • Date of birth: October 2, 1962
  • Died: May 29, 2021
  • Nationality: American
  • Education: High school
  • Parents: Unknown
  • Occupation: Acting
  • Years active: 1988 to 2021
  • Net worth:  $2 million to $5 million

Joe Lara was an American actor, martial artist, and musician before his death on May 29, 2021. Movie lovers who were opportune to watch the adventure movie Tarzan in Manhattan and its sequel TV series Tarzan: The Epic Adventures would know Joe Lara who played the lead character. The American actor also starred in several other equally interesting movies but later gave up acting to go in pursuit of a music career. Unfortunately, his career and life were cut short on the 29th of May 2021 when the San Diego-born star died in a plane crash that claimed many others, including his wife.

Who was Joe Lara?

His given name at birth was William Joseph Lara, born on the 2nd of October 1962; Joe Lara’s place of birth is captured as San Diego in California, United States. He was obviously an American by nationality but his ethnicity was mixed, comprising of American, Polish, Indian, and Spanish heritage. Nothing is known about his parents but they are obviously Christians since they raised Lara in a Christian home. In the same vein, it is not known if he was an only child or grew up in a large family.

Coming to his academic qualifications and institutions attended, the actor never said much but it is common knowledge that he was a sports standout during his teens, majoring in sand volleyball, surfing, and soccer. During his high school days, Lara played football in the wide receiver position, earning the most valuable player title.

At age 19, he was influenced to turn down some good college scouts from different universities in California to allow him to pursue a career in print and runway modeling. Joe Lara’s modeling stint took him to places like Paris, Milan, and Geneva.

He officially started acting in 1989

As earlier stated, Joe Lara’s career took off on the runway as a model, however, the young American also saw viable opportunities in the movie world. Thus, he joined the cast of Night Wars in 1988 as an American soldier. Perhaps we would not be far from the truth to say that his journey to greatness began when he played the title character in Tarzan in Manhattan. The film which was released in 1989 dovetailed into a follow-up TV series entitled Tarzan: The Epic Adventures, lasting from 1996 to 1997. This particular gig turned out to be his break-out role as well as his best-known role to date.

Post Tarzan in Manhattan, the upcoming actor went ahead to appear in a couple of productions within two years; they include Gunsmoke: The Last Apache where he portrayed the role of Wolf in 1990, and Danger Island as Matt in 1992. The American entertainer is known for action films such as American Cyborg: Steel Warrior as Austin, Armstrong, depicting the character of Ponytail, Warhead as Gen. Kraft, and Steel Frontier as Yuma.

In 2002, the movie actor quit acting in a bid to have ample time to explore his love for music. Joe Lara majored in country music and was able to drop his first album before the unfortunate incident that claimed his life. Before his death, Joe Lara’s net worth was pegged around  $2 Million to $5 Million.

Joe Lara’s movies and TV shows


  • Night Wars in 1988 as American Soldier
  • Sunset Heat in 1992 as Todd
  • American Cyborg: Steel Warrior in 1993 as Austin
  • Steel Frontier in 1995 as Yuma
  • Hologram Man in 1995 as Decoda
  • Live Wire 2: Human Timebomb in 1995 as Price
  • Final Equinox in 1995 as Lugar
  • Warhead in 1996 as Gen. Kraft
  • Armstrong in 1998 as Ponytail
  • Lima: Breaking the Silence in 1999 as Victor
  • Operation Delta Force 4: Deep Fault in 1999 as MCKinny
  • Strike Zone in 2000 as Dunk Stevens
  • Very Mean Men in 2000 as Detective Millar
  • Doomsdayer in 2000 as Jack Logan
  • Dead Man’s Run in 2001 as Derek
  • Death Game in 2001 as Micky Haiden
  • Starfire Mutiny in 2002 as Sam Talbot
  • Summer of ’67 in 2018 as a Soap Opera Actor


  • Tarzan in Manhattan in 1989 as Tarzan
  • Gunsmoke: The Last Apache in 1990 as Wolf
  • Danger Island in 1992 as Matt
  • Tropical Heat in 1993 as Devon Madsen
  • Baywatch in 1993 as Frank Randall
  • Tarzan: The Epic Adventures from 1996–1997 as Tarzan
  • Operation Delta Force in 1997 as Jonah Nash
  • Conan the Adventurer in 1998 as Kamikon
  • In Search of Tarzan with Jonathan Ross in 1998 as self
  • The Magnificent Seven in 2000 as Pace McCormick

He Was Married To Pastor Gwen Shamblin

Joe Lara

Joe and Gwen – image source

Joe Lara tied the nuptials with Pastor Gwen Shamblin on the 18th of August 2018. Further details of their time together are not in the public arena, but it is common knowledge that Joe became a stepfather to Gwen’s two children from her previous marriage. The former American actor also had one biological child from his previous relationship with Natasha Pavlovich.

Before their death, Lara and Gwen starred in a special YouTube series entitled Life with Gwen which amassed over 2000 subscribers. The former actor was a resident of Brentwood, Tennessee.

Who was Joe Lara’s wife?

One thing that is glaring in the Joe/Gwen relationship is that Gwen was older than her husband by almost a decade. At the time of their demise, the pastor was 66 years old, making her older by eight years. Another important fact to be noted about Gwen is that she was already a grandmother.

With that said, Joe Lara’s late wife lived her life as a Christian author with a few publications under her belt. However, she is best known for being the pastor and founder of the Remnant Fellowship Church. The church which was established in 1999 soon birthed projects like the Christian weight loss program – The Weigh Down Workshop.

We cannot conclude the talk about Gwen Shamblin’s identity without mentions about her life before Joe Lara. Gwen was the wife of David Shamblin and their union lasted from 1978 to 2018. Also to be noted is the fact that their union produced two children, Elizabeth Hannah and Michael Shamblin who have since given their mum seven grandchildren.

Read Also: Noshir Dalal: Movies and Video Games That Define The Career of Exorcist: Prayers in the Dark Star

What happened to Joe Lara?

Joe Lara died in a plane crash alongside his wife and others. The American actor died on the 29th of March 2021 following a plane crash involving Remnant Fellowship Church’s Cessna Citation 501 I/SP. Lara was one of the passengers on board the Citation when it crashed into the Percy Priest Lake close to Smyrna in Tennessee and he died at the age of 58. Other passengers who died on board include Joe’s wife, four members of her church, and her son-in-law. Their names have been revealed as Jonathan Walters, Jennifer J. Martin, Jessica Walters, David L. Martin, and Brandon Hannah, Shamblin’s son-in-law. They all resided in Brentwood, Tenn.

The incident brought the National Transportation Safety Board to the scene and they have since delved into a full investigation to ascertain the cause of the air crash. When USA Today examined pilot certification records, it was revealed that none of the people on board were properly qualified to pilot the Citation. For one, Joe Lara’s medical certificate already expired while the man with a valid pilot’s license plus a medical certificate lacked the necessary type rating to pilot the business jet. However, we can’t conclude that this was the reason behind the crash.

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