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Thursday, March 1, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Herman Brix, UW athlete, actor

Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Herman Brix, a University of Washington football and track-and-field star who parlayed a silver medal for the shot put at the 1928 Olympics into a Hollywood career that included playing Tarzan in a 1935 movie, has died. He was 100.

Mr. Brix, who later adopted the stage name Bruce Bennett and appeared as Joan Crawford's husband in "Mildred Pierce" and as a gold prospector in "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," died of complications of a broken hip Saturday at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center, his son, Christopher, said Tuesday.

Mr. Brix, who was born in Tacoma, played football, basketball and soccer for Stadium High School, and competed in swimming and track and field.

He was an All-America tackle on the Huskies football team and went to the Rose Bowl in 1926, where the University of Alabama beat his team. A 1928 graduate, he earned a bachelor's degree in economics.

Mr. Brix moved to Los Angeles in 1929 after being invited to compete for the Los Angeles Athletic Club.

He became friends with actor Douglas Fairbanks, who arranged a screen test for the handsome young athlete at Paramount. While playing a small role as a running back in the 1931 Paramount college-football movie "Touchdown," Brix broke his shoulder, costing him a chance at the 1932 Olympics as well as losing the role of Tarzan at MGM, where he is said to have been the studio's leading candidate for the role.

Instead, the star-making role in MGM's 1932 hit "Tarzan the Ape Man" went to Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller, who went on to appear in a string of Tarzan movies.

Two years later, Brix got his chance to play the jungle hero in "The New Adventures of Tarzan," produced by an independent film company whose principals included Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs, who supposedly selected him.

Over the next several years, Brix appeared in more than a dozen films, including the serials "Shadow Over Chinatown," "The Fighting Devil Dogs," "Hawk of the Wilderness" and "The Lone Ranger."

After making another serial, "Daredevils of the Red Circle" in 1939, he changed his name to avoid being typecast.

As Bruce Bennett, he began carving out a new career in "The Officer and the Lady," "Atlantic Convoy," "Sahara" and "Dark Passage."

One of his most memorable film credits was "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," the 1948 film starring Humphrey Bogart, with Walter Huston and Tim Holt as fellow gold prospectors in Mexico.

As James Cody, the prospector who shows up at the trio's camp and offers his help for a share of the profits, Bennett raises the ire of Bogart's paranoid character Fred C. Dobbs and winds up being killed when the four men are attacked by bandits.

After his Hollywood career ended in the 1960s, Brix went to work for a Los Angeles food-service company and later worked in real estate.

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