I'll be the first to say it: He died too soon. Gone to the great escarpment in the sky.
He lived longer than most humans and influenced generations of Americans to aspire to rugged outdoorsy, manly, armed self-sufficiency. Cheetah was at heart American, redneck and Texan. Imagine the Tarzan character created during the times of ball caps and duct tape. (Cheetah! Get cooler!) If he had been created earlier we would have won at the Alamo. ("Cheetah! Get Fannin! Umgawa!")
He saved Tarzan's life many times over for just bananas and a few yucks. If you were stuck in some god-forsaken jungle inhabited by cannibals and animists, who would you rather have along: Mr Ed, Rin Tin-tin, Lassie, Flipper, Trigger, Big Bird, Old Yeller, Alf or Cheetah?
When I was a kid we kept an eye out for any handy vine to swing across the creek on. We said we wanted to be Tarzan but in truth were a little scandalized by his outfit. Secretly we all wanted to be Cheetah.
Update: Already, his story dissolves into a mystery.....