Volume 1658
Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Press
A Life's Journey Through the Newspapers of the World
A Collection of newspaper clippings and articles from 
Chicago to Tarzana  ~ around the world ~ and back to Encino/Tarzana 

Pictorial Review's Movie of the Week
Tarzan Finds A Son!
Hazards of child-rearing in jungle are bravely conquered

One hot summer evening in the year 1912, a struggling young Chicago writer named Edgar Rice Burroughs found himself unable to get to sleep. The result of his insomnia was an idea for a novel, which he later wrote in longhand and called Tarzan of the Apes. After almost every other publisher in the U.S. had refused it, Tarzan of the Apes was finally published by A.C. McClurg & Co. in 1914. It promptly became a best-seller.

In the quarter-century since his first appearance, Tarzan has appeared in 19 more novels by Mr. Burroughs, which have been translated into some 57 languages and dialects, and sold a total of 25,000,000 copies. Book sales of Tarzan have, however, accounted for only a small fraction of Tarzan's value to his creator, who has also realized handsomely from Tarzan's appearance on the stage, screen, radio, in magazines and comic strips. Penknives, candy, chewing gum, bread ice-cream cups, jungle costumes and two post offices -- Tarzan, Tex., and Tarzana, Calif., home of Author Burroughs -- have been named after Tarzan.

Most famed Tarzan in the movies is Johnny Weissmuller, 1924 & 1928 Olympic swimming champion whose pictures cost M-G-M about $1,000,000 each. Tarzan Finds a Son, fourth and latest of this series, shows its hero bringing up a picayune Tarzan by whose presence  the future of the series seems assured. Fashions in the jungle change. In Tarzan the Ape Man (1932), Maureen O'Sullivan wore only a small pareu. She now has a knee-length shift.

Found in plane crash which kills parents, 
small Boy gets ostrich-feather crib from Tarzan


Boy grows up to swing on trees like grown-up Tarzan, 
who also teaches him swimming and monkey language. 
Still unable to speak much English, 
Tarzan merely calls boy "Boy."

Search party arrives to look for traces of missing airplane. 
The dead aviators, parents of Boy, were wealthy adventurers 
to whose fortune the searchers are prospective heirs.

Tarzan and ape friend hear search party 
plotting to take Boy back to England, 
have themselves appointed guardians to get control of his money. 
Tarzan and ape are shocked.

Tarzan throws party's rifles into bottom of the canyon to foil the plot.
His wife thinks Boy ought to go back to England and persuades Tarzan to retrieve the rifles.
Who married Mrs. Tarzan to Tarzan is a question to which the Hays office owes the public a prompt answer.

Search party starts home, accompanied by Boy and Mrs. Tarzan
who has meanly trapped Tarzan in canyon so he cannot interfere with plan.
Before they get far, a tribe of hostile cannibals captures the safari, prepares to make them into stew.
Boy escapes, runs to Tarzan.

Tarzan gives famed squeal which brings elephants after Boy frees him from trap in canyon.
When elephants arrive, he squeals again, causing arrival of apes.
In Tarzan pictures, apes and elephants are equivalent of U.S. Marines.
They all set out for cannibal village.

Village is demolished by elephants and Tarzan who routs cannibal chief,
rescues search party, forgives Mrs. Tarzan.
Question then arises of whether Boy shall be returned to England for education at Eton or
remain in the jungle with the Tarzans and monkey playmates.

Mrs. Tarzan, Tarzan and Boy Tarzan set off for their tree penthouse,
with elevators run by elephants.
Boy rides pony elephant.


Putting Tarzan in the movies was first suggested to Author Burroughs by an insurance salesman named William Parsons in 1916. Tarzan of the Apes, released in 1918, was one of the first six pictures in cinema history to gross over $1,000,000. To date, nine actors have appeared as Tarzan in 16 Tarzan pictures. Some have been good and some have been terrible, all have made money. Total gross of Tarzan in the movies thus far is 20,000,000.

From the point of view of histrionics, Tarzan makes unique demands. The role requires a competent acrobat who is handsome and well-disposed to animals. The only professional actor in the whole list of Tarzans was the first: Elmo K. Lincoln. He was followed by a New York fireman named Gene Polar whose Return of Tarzan (1920) was, according to Burroughs, "a stinker." Later came a singer named P. Dempsey Tabler, a circus strongman named Frank Merrill and a University of Indiana football center named James H. Pierce, who did badly in movies but well with Mr. Burroughs' daughter whom he married. All four Tarzans in the talkies have been Olympic athletes -- Swimmers Weissmuller and Buster Crabbe, Shot-putter Herman Brix, Decathloner Glenn Morris.

Early Tarzans had hairy chests and wore leopard skins. Costumes of Tarzan's jungle-law wives, fully clothed at first, grew progressively flimsier until the Hays office reversed the trend in 1934.

First Mrs. Tarzan in the movies was Enid Markey,
whose hand Elmo K. Lincoln is here investigating.
Like that of all cinema Tarzans, Lincoln's face was clean-shaven.

The best ape in Tarzan movies was this man dressed in a gorilla skin
who carried Natalie Kingston about in Tarzan the Tiger (1929).
Apes in Tarzan Finds a Son are real chimpanzees.

The last silent-film Tarzan was Frank Merrill.

Fireman Gene Polar's co-star in 1920 was Karla Schramm. Estelle Taylor,
who became Mrs. Jack Dempsey, had a bit part in the same picture (Return of Tarzan)

Tarzan and the Green Goddess (1936) starred Herman Brix and Ula Holt.

Tarzan's Revenge (1938) starred Glenn Morris and Eleanor Holm.
Tarzan has no difficulty finding feminine companions
whom he treats with chivalry and finesse.

Note from our ERBzine Silver Screen Feature on Tarzan Finds a Son 
ERBzine 0620
"Jane has been seriously wounded by a native spear. In the original script she dies from the wound but following a barrage of protests from fans... and ERB... the studio resurrected her and had her recover in Tarzan's arms. The Tarzan family return to their idyllic life in the jungle."

"When Burroughs learned of the planned death of Jane he wired MGM from Hawaii, threatening to sue. There was nothing in Burroughs' contract with the studio to prevent this script decision but the backlash from fans was so overwhelming that they changed the script."

ERBzine Silver Screen: Tarzan Finds A Son
ERBzine Silver Screen Guide
Edgar Rice Burroughs Bio Timeline
ERB: The War Years
e-Text Editions of the ERB Novels
ERB and the Press
A Life's Journey Through the Newspapers of the World: 1875-1950

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