In Memoriam: Stars We’ve Lost in 2021
Joe Lara, star of the ’90s television series Tarzan: The Epic Adventures, and his wife Gwen Shamblin Lara, a diet guru and founder of the Remnant Fellowship Church, were killed in a plane crash along with five other people.
A small Cessna C501 jet carrying the group crashed into Percy Priest Lake near Smyrna, Tenn., after taking off from Smyrna Rutherford County Airport at about 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 29, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement to The New York Times. The plane was headed to Palm Beach International Airport in Florida, the organization said.
After the crash, local rescue crews rushed to the scene to try to find survivors, to no avail. They remained there as of Sunday, May 30, and have recovered several components of the aircraft as well as human remains, according to a statement from the Rutherford County Government in Tennessee, posted on Facebook. Everyone aboard the plane was presumed dead, Rutherford County Fire Rescue said.
Joe, 58, and Gwen, 66, are survived by her two adult children from Gwen’s first marriage, Elizabeth Hannah, who lost her husband Brandon Hannah in the crash, and Michael Shamblin, as well as a daughter from Joe’s previous relationship, plus several grandchildren.
In addition to the Laras and their son-in-law, the other passengers who perished in the crash were Jennifer J. Martin, David L. Martin, Jessica Walters and Jonathan Walters. They were all leaders of the Remnant Fellowship Church, which Gwen founded in 1999, a year after she married Joe.
Joe, who was born William Joseph Lara, rose to fame as an actor in the ’80s. In 1989, he played the title part in the TV movie Tarzan in Manhattan, which marked his breakout role. He later went on to play the same role in the short-lived ’90s syndicated fantasy-action series Tarzan: The Epic Adventures.
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Gwen founded the Remnant Fellowship Church in Brentwood, Tenn. after finding success with her Weigh Down Workshop, described by the church as a Bible study series that helped people lose weight and quit drinking, NBC News reported. Gwen, the author of books like The Weigh Down Diet, described herself as a “pioneer of faith-based weight loss” on her Instagram profile.
In recent years, she and Joe appeared in a self-produced YouTube series called Life With Gwen and Joe.