The World’s Greatest Athlete Premieres

The World’s Greatest Athlete raced onto screens for the first time on this day in 1973, telling the story of Nanu (Jan-Michael Vincent), a boy raised by natives in the jungles of Africa after the death of his parents. When a coach and his assistant (portrayed by John Amos and Tim Conway) discover the athletic jungle boy, they quickly recruit him to compete in college athletics, which also means bringing along Nanu’s closest companion… a 435 pound tiger. The World’s Greatest Athlete was Disney Legend and funnyman Tim Conway’s first film for Disney, and he told D23’s Scott Wolf how he got the part: “I guess they had seen me on the (Carol) Burnett show and they were looking for somebody who could do some physical stuff and they gave me a ring, and down I went.” As for working with a real tiger, Tim said, “I’ve worked with just about every animal in the world. A dog, a mule, a horse, a tiger. That’s usually what happens at Disney. You go to wardrobe and then you meet your animal.”