Skip to content

Was Eric Fleming Eaten by Piranhas? Exploring the Piranha Mystery

When famous people die, we often hear a lot of rumors about the events that led to their deaths. Knowing what to believe can sometimes be hard, especially when some of these reports seem to be very realistic.

Something similar happened when Eric Fleming drowned while they were filming a movie, set to release a short while after; when rumors about him being devoured by piranhas quickly started to circulate.

The story might hold some truth, but it’s important to do your research well before you make your final conclusion. We’ll dive deeper into Eric Fleming’s story and look at his death, as well as the evidence surrounding the possibility of a piranha attack.

Who is Eric Fleming? From Hollywood Stardom to the Adventures of the ‘High Jungle’

Eric Fleming’s career actually didn’t start out as an actor. At first, Fleming was a laborer at Paramount. He started to appear on stage in 1946 and was able to land multiple roles. While he initially was a laborer at Paramount, he did go on to play in two films by the company.

In 1958, Fleming was able to reach a major milestone in his career, after being cast for Rawhide, a long-running series that was on CBS-TV. He played Gil Favor, which was actually a major role in this television series, and from this point on, his rise to fame really started. People began to notice Fleming, and he became beloved by fans of the series.

In 1965, he landed a role in The Glass Bottom Boat, after which MGM-TV hired Fleming for an adventure series that they were planning. The series was called “High Jungle” and was set to film in Peru. In fact, the genesis of the piranha story can be traced back to 1966 when Eric Fleming embarked on a difficult journey to film this ‘High Jungle’ adventure documentary in the Amazon rainforest.

The Piranha Mystery: Exploring the Death of the Beloved Actor and The ‘Eaten by Piranhas’ Rumor

Image – Rawhide Facebook | Fair use

With his beloved, Lynne Garber, by his side, Fleming went to Peru for the shooting of High Jungle. Unfortunately, this is also where he met an unfortunate fate. During a filming session, the scene was set on a river in Peru. Fleming was on a canoe while they filmed, and the canoe reportedly overturned. He was on the canoe alongside his co-star, Nico Minardos. This happened on the Huallaga River in Peru. While Minardos got to the shore, the same could not be said for Fleming. The current actually swept him away. While a search party was dispatched to search for Fleming, his body was only found three days later, at which time he had already died.

Now, when the details about his death came out, a lot of theories started to surface. Amongst these was the theory that after falling into the river, his body was completely devoured by piranhas. This even remains a popular speculation in the modern day, where people still seem to believe that it was the case.

However, there are reports that have surfaced, explaining the fact that while piranhas are often depicted as vicious creatures in films, they are usually unlikely to actually kill a person. Instead, it’s suggested that piranhas rather started to nibble on the corpse of Fleming. This makes sense, considering the fact that he drifted in the water for three days.

Was Eric Fleming Eaten by Piranhas?

Now comes the big question: Did piranhas attack and eat Eric Fleming? Well, the truth is, there is some evidence that piranhas were involved in the entire situation, but they certainly didn’t lead to his death.

According to speculations, Fleming fell out of the boat they were using during the filming of High Jungle. Some do believe that he jumped over intentionally, but this has never been confirmed. What we do know is that his body was carried by the currents and only discovered three days later, at which time he was declared dead. There are reports that have confirmed signs of piranhas biting on his remains could be noted, but his body was still intact and was buried later on in Peru, where the film was being shot.

So in conclusion, Was Eric Fleming eaten by piranhas?

Well, there isn’t really a conclusive yes or no as to whether Eric Fleming was devoured by a group of Piranhas. What we do know is that the actor actually fell into the water from a boat that was used on the set of a film that they were shooting at the time. While his co-actor was able to reach the shore, the currents took Fleming’s body away, and he was later found. It has been reported that Piranhas seemed to have “nibbled” on his body, but certainly not eaten him, as some publications have speculated.

Amna El Tawil is a professional journalist, reporter, and an Amazon published author living in Cairo, Egypt. She graduated from MIU with a journalism degree and later worked as a reporter and content writer at various news publications. Amna's works have appeared in the Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC), the International Herald Tribune, Thomson Reuters, and the BBC. Amna loves researching and has also authored several books on Amazon.