The actor perished with his wife and five other passengers in a Tennessee lake.


Joe Lara, best known for starring in the series Tarzan: The Epic Adventures, died at 58 following a plane crash on Saturday. His wife, Gwen Lara, and five others who were on board also died after the plane plunged into a Tennessee lake near Nashville.

The plane, a 1982 Cessna C501, departed the state's Smyrna Airport around 12 p.m. ET and was en route to Palm Beach, Florida. Shortly after takeoff, the small jet crashed into Percy Priest Lake, the Rutherford County Fire & Rescue team confirmed. All seven people were presumed deceased.

Multiple agencies, including Rutherford County Sheriff's Office and the Federal Aviation Administration responded to the scene, with the National Transportation Safety Board leading the investigation on Sunday.

Dive teams discovered several components of the aircraft as well as human remains, according to a midday update today. The debris field was found to be approximately half a mile wide, RCFR captain and incident commander John Ingle reported. NTSB officials said the investigation is ongoing and could take up to two years to complete.

All seven victims have been identified. Lara and his wife, Gwen, a diet guru and founder of the Remnant Fellowship Church, were on board. The five other passengers were all from Brentwood, Tennessee, and members of Lara's church, News Channel 5 reported.

Born in San Diego on Oct. 2, 1962, William Joseph Lara began his career as a model before he scored the lead role in the 1989 CBS telefilm Tarzan in Manhattan, in which the legendary King of the Jungle came to New York to try to rescue his chimp, Cheetah.

Between 1996 and 1997, Lara played the character in 22 episodes of Tarzan: The Epic Adventures, a show he also produced that was shot in South Africa. His other acting credits include the films American Cyborg: Steel Warrior, Steel Frontier, Warhead, and Doomsdayer and TV shows like Baywatch and Conan the Adventurer. His last role was in 2018, when he played a soap opera actor in the film Summer of '67.

Lara married Gwen Shamblin in 2018, and the two lived in Brentwood with their daughter, Liana. Lara also played guitar and released an album, Joe Lara: The Cry of Freedom, in 2009. He was also a licensed falconer, licensed pilot, an open-water diver, a surfer, a boxer, and a trained marksman, according to his website.

Joe Lara
Joe Lara as Tarzan
| Credit: Keller Siegel Entertainment/Courtesy Everett Collection

Related content: