In 1912, Edgar Rice Burroughs introduced the character of Tarzan to the
world in his imaginative tale, "Tarzan of the Apes," and in no time, his
career was off and running. Tarzan has since been featured in 26 authorized
novels and 44 motion pictures. Burroughs decided to take his career a step
further by launching his own company, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. He died
on March 19, 1950. His writing and characters entertained three generations
of readers and moviegoers. At present, the Burroughs family, including
grandson, Danton Burroughs manages the corporation. Danton Burroughs and
I sat down to speak about Tarzan, the Broadway Musical, as well as the
life of his grandfather.
Nick Orlando: What was your grandfather's inspiration for creating
the character, Tarzan?
Danton Burroughs: Money! He, at the time, pawned my grandmother's
jewelry. He had written Tarzan as his third novel. His third story was
submitted to "All Story Magazine." The editor loved it! It came out in
the October issue of the magazine. It sold for 15 cents and today, if you
can find a nice copy, it is $15,000-$30,000. Extremely rare; it was the
whole story in one volume which was not done before.
Nick Orlando: How did this character evolve?
My grandfather played with the evolution theory and he created the name
Tarzan. The first name he had was Nazrat and then he changed the syllables
around to Tarzan. We have the original manuscript and you can see where
he is actually thinking and changing the names. He just had a way with
words and he created a mythical character in 1911. As soon as Tarzan came
out, it was an immediate success. It also came out in England. My grandfather
got so much fan mail. His pseudonym was Normal Bean, but when the book
came out in 1914, he was credited as Edgar Rice Burroughs. First movie
was 1918. It was also one of the first movies to gross over a million dollars.
It starred Gordon Griffith as the young Tarzan and Elmo Lincoln as Tarzan
himself. Elmo Lincoln was a big hit at the time.
Nick Orlando: Did your grandfather have any significant obstacles
he had to overcome or did things come easy?
Danton Burroughs: He was a hell of a business man. He incorporated
himself in 1923, which was odd for an author to do, but he liked the protection
of a corporation because he was involved in early lawsuits with some of
the Tarzan pictures. He went on to do the merchandising and publishing
on his own. He had my father come in during the 1930s and illustrate Tarzan
and the other books my grandfather wrote. He kept it as a family corporation
and to this day, it is owned by the heirs of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Nick Orlando: Are there things going on in your life that parallels
your grandfathers? Are you following in his footsteps?
Danton Burroughs: Only as an archivist and trying to save everything.
Also, working on documentaries and coming to see amazing musicals, like
Tarzan, the Broadway Musical. The legend lives on!
Nick Orlando: I’m sure your grandfather would be very proud to
see Disney putting on Tarzan, the Broadway Musical.
Danton Burroughs: He would be beside himself and there is enjoyment
from the Burroughs family!
See the Danton Burroughs Tarzana Archive Releases
each week at
Disney Theatrical Productions and Stage Entertainment,
the largest theatrical producing company in Europe announced Monday, May
22nd, 2006, that Disney's newest musical, Tarzan, will be their next co-production
in Europe, set to open in Holland next spring at the Circustheatre
near Amsterdam with a second production scheduled to open in Germany
Tarzan, the Broadway Musical, is currently playing
at the Richard Rodgers Theatre (226 West 46th Street). The
cast album will be released on June 27th on Walt Disney Records.
The production stars Josh Strickland and Jenn Gambatese as Tarzan and Jane.
Performances run Tuesday through Saturday at 8:00pm, with matinees Wednesday
and Saturday at 2:00pm, and Sunday at 3:00pm. Tickets are available through
www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 212-307-4747. For more information,
please visit www.TarzanOnBroadway.com.
See all the ERBzine features on Tarzan The Broadway Musical at: