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Presents
Volume 1788
Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Press
A Life's Journey Through the Newspapers of the World
1875-1950
A Collection of newspaper clippings from 
Chicago to Tarzana  ~ around the world ~ and back to Encino/Tarzana 
THE '30s DECADE
CONTENTS

1. Tarzan Roams the World
2. Nkima, Tarzan's Pet, Tells What Planks Really Mean
3. What Makes Tarzan Act That Way?
4. Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan Creator, Was Never In Africa
5. Writer Warns Unauthorized 'Tarzans' To Drop The Name
6. Weissmuller Ideal Tarzan Says Creator
.
Edgar Rice Burroughs 
Tells of Success of His Famous Fiction Character 
That This Newspaper Helped to Popularize
By Edgar Rice Burroughs
(Author of the Tarzan Stories)
The Tacoma News Tribune ~ January 12, 1934
Tarzan Roams World
By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Creator of Famous Ape-Man tells 
Adventures of Brain-Child 
That Are Not Found in Books
Oakland Tribune ~ January 29, 1934
Tarzan of the Apes has had many adventures that are between the covers of no book. Having been pirated in Soviet Russia, he gained such popularity among the proletariat that the Soviet government was forced to take official cognizance of him. Whether they murdered him in a cellar or knouted him to Siberia, I do not know; but they got all het up because groups of illiterate peasants gathered in the street while a more educated fellow, oftentimes a soldier, read Tarzan out lout to them instead of Soviet propaganda or the intriguing dream books of Mr. Marx.

In Germany he aroused the jealousy of a publisher because of his popularity, and this good sportsman dug up a story that I had written during the heat of anti-German propaganda in this country following the sinking of the Lusitania. He had a book written and published, telling all about the two horrible creatures, Tarzan of the apes and Edgar Rice Burroughs; and he distributed it so effectively that the German press made Tarzan an issue, lambasting him editorially and advising all good Germans to throw their Tarzan books into the garbage cans -- which they did.

Boys Study Tarzan (Boys Learn How To Care For Themselves)
A Bulgarian or Rumanian discovered that I had stolen Tarzan, word for word, from a poor French author, who was slowly starving to death in a garret, while a neighbor woman here in the San Fernando valley revealed the secret that I never wrote any of my books, all of them having been written by my father, an old gentleman with a long white beard.

Little boys have broken into newspapers all over the world by falling out of trees and breaking something while emulating Tarzan, and one little boy, Jackie Strong of Gresham, Ore., who was lost three days and nights on the wooded slopes of Mount Hood, attributed his ability to take care of himself and come through alive an dwell to the fact that  he had bee a student of Tarzan of the Apes.

Tarzan of the Apes was not written primarily for children, and my files contain letters of appreciation from men and women of all ages and from all walks of life -- school teachers, librarians, college professors, priests, doctors, lawyers, soldiers, sailors and business men, among which are names internationally famous; but possibly the greatest pleasure that I have derived from t he publication of my stories has come through the knowledge that they have appealed also to children and that I have given them a character, however improbable he may seem, that will set for them a higher standard of manliness, integrity and sportsmanship.

Since Tarzan of the Apes first appeared in the newspapers years ago, a new generation of readers has grown up, and Tarzan is as popular today as he was then.

Eighteen Tarzan Stories Written
I have written a total of 18 Tarzan stories, 16 of which are in book form, the latest being Tarzan and the City of Gold.

I wrote Tarzan of the Apes 21 years ago. It was my third novel and the first to appear under my own name, which was unknown outside of a radius of six feet from my back porch.

Bob Davis of the Munsey company liked the story and it appeared in the October, 1912, issue of All-Story Weekly, whereupon I commenced to have visions of earning $3,000 a year and affluence in the writing game.

Sharing a common weakness with 120,000,000 other Americans, I got a great kick out of seeing my name in print, and as an all-fiction magazine is anything but an enduring monument, I commenced to look up the addresses of book publishers.

During the next couple of years every reputable publisher in the United States had an opportunity to turn down Tarzan of the Apes, and did.

I was not surprised; in fact, the only thing about the marketing of my stories that ever surprises me is when they sell. I have never written a story yet but that deep down in my heart I was positive it would be refused.

Newspapers Liked Tarzan (Newspapers Create Demand For Ape-Man)
It was the newspapers that created the demand for Tarzan. Unless I am mistaken, the New York Evening World started it; and then it was syndicated in cities of all sizes all over the United States. One of the first papers to publish the Tarzan stories was The Tacoma Tribune, now the Tacoma News Tribune. (. . . and finally in boiler plate form in serveral thousand small town newspapers.)

The result was that A. C. McClurg & Company had so many inquiries from their retail customers for Tarzan of the Apes that, after having refused the story a year before, they now wrote me asking for the book rights.

The book had about the same experience in England, some 13 publishers turning it down before Sir Arthur Methuen undertook its publication there; but it achieved possibly a greater success in England than in the United States until the death of Sir Arthur.

Contracts have been entered into during the past 12 or 15 years for the translation of Tarzan of the Apes into Arabic, Czecho-Slovakian, Danish, Dutch (Holland), Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Rumanian, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese and Urdu; and it has been printed in Braille for the blind.

Renewed Interest Seen In Series
Within the last two years there has been a marked renewal of interest in the Tarzan stories. A nw Tarzan picture was made last year and another one has just been completed. The United Features Syndicate, Inc. is offering Tarzan of the Apes in a series of splendid, illustrated strips to the newspapers of the country and it is meeting with a success far beyond anything that I had anticipated.

In addition to the Tarzan stories, I have written 48 other stories, 31 of which are in book form, and one other type of story, which I call a non-Tarzan.

What seems to me one of the remarkable things about the Tarzan books, and for that matter of all my other novels, is that they have never been out of print and that there is a constant demand for them, requiring reprinting every year since the first one was published nearly 20 years ago.

All in all, Tarzan has done far better than I possibly could have dreamed at the time that I created him.

.
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Nkima, Tarzan's Pet, Tells What Planks Really Mean
Burroughs In Reporter Role
Noted Author Relates Colorful Scene in Depths of Iroquois
Platform Is Explained
Tariff on Fig Leaves, G-Strings and Loin Cloths to Come Off.
The Louisville Times ~ November 15, 1935
By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Creator of Tarzan and Special Writer for the Oompah Campaign

Editor's Note: The most picturesque scene of the current Oompah campaign was a meeting in the wilds of Iroquois Park addressed by Little Nkima, the monkey companion of Tarzan of the Apes, in behalf of the latter's candidacy. Although the weather was raw and spectators had to stamp about on the damp leaves underfoot to keep their toes arm, the gathering was a howling success. The event would have passed by unnoticed except for the fact that Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan happened to be there. At the request of The Times, which congratulates itself on having made a ten-strike in obtaining his services, Mr. Burroughs wrote the following account of the meeting.

Beating his chest in the manner of Tarzan, his boon companion, Little Nkima called a meeting of thousands of Oompah voters to order by shouting "Wee-auow-wea-auow  We-e-e-e--AUOW."

"Unaccustomed as Ah am to public speaking," Nkima began, "it gives me a great deal of pleasure to point with pride to our party's candidate for Oompah who is running on a Nude Deal platform; a man, la-a-dees and gentlemen, who can run on any platform, barefooted.

"Ah wants you-all to remember that our fathers blought and fed -- er -- I mean bought and fled (Cheers). But be that as it may, let us pause a moment to view with alarm. (Prolonged cheers and shouts of "We want a touchdown! We want a touchdown!")

"And now, friends and fellow citizens if you will permit me I -- pardon me, I mean Ah -- ah will explain just what the Nude Deal Platform is. It consists of a number of planks supported by several tastily arranged 2x$ -12's O.P. S4S. These should be wrapped with red, white and blue bunting, set on the back of the stove and allowed to simmer.

Explains the Planks
"And what are the planks? Ah asks you-all, what are the planks? If our candidate is elected we promise to make the tailors  walk the first plank, the haberdashers the second plank, the shoemakers the third plank. Then there is a plank on which to exhibit bigger and better fig leaves, G-strings and loin cloths. We also have a wide plank with slivers in it; and down that plank, friends , Romans, countrymen, we are going to slide everyone who doesn't agree with us. And furthermore, if our party triumphs at the coming election, we promise you that there will be a nude-eel in every frying-pan.

"Go to the polls and vote; I urge you to go to the polls. It doesn't make any difference who you vote fore, just so you vote for Tarzan of the Apes. And then, for dear old Rutgers, we-all (you-all and Ah-all) will beat them-all, and the glorious old U.S.A. will be for sun-burns, chilblains, and pneumonia. (Loud and raucous cheers followed by the Republican Marching Club with torch-lights.)

Fears Swiss Navy.
"Let us not in this hour of victory forget the malign forces that menace our great and glorious country. Let us prepare, lest we awaken some morning and find the Swiss navy at our gates. Think of it, my friends -- at our very gates! It would be bad enough if they came to the front gates or the back gates; but if they come to our very gates -- Ah, that would be fatal! Everything would be lost, unless we had as our Oompah a man of sterling character at the current rate of exchange.

"So rally 'round this great candidate no matter what your former affiliations have been; for under the Nude Deal we promise the Republicans that they will eat again, we will put more Democrats on the dole (if they are not all on now), and I want to assure all those who are discontented that Tarzan is for the Reds. Whole-heartedly and unashamedly, he is for the Reds -- the Rhode Island Reds, fried, with mashed potatoes and gravy, Southern style.

"And in closing, my friends, I take great pleasure, and it is my high honor to introduce the next Oompah, Tarzan of the Apes! (Prolonged, prolonged cheering, followed by riot-squad with tear-gas bombs, and Waziri warriors with white plumes.)

Related interest: Tarzan for President
.
What Makes Tarzan Act That Way?
By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Boston Sunday Post ~ June 19, 1938
(A revised version of the June 1932 article
from Writer's Digest: The Tarzan Theme)

Some one is always taking the joy out of life. For twenty years I proceed blissfully writing stories to keep the wolf from my door, and to cause other people to forget for an hour or two the wolves at their doors, and then up pops the editor of Writer's Digest and asks me for an article on the Tarzan theme.

Frankly, there ain't no such animal; or if there is I didn't know it.

Breathlessly, I flew to Mr. Webster, determined to create a Tarzan theme with his assistance; but I was disappointed in somehow not finding Tarzan in the dictionary. But I did find "theme". Webster calls it: "A subject or topic on which a person writes or speaks; a proposition for discussion or argument; a text."

That definition simplified my task, for under this definition the Tarzan theme consists of one word - Tarzan.

"A proposition for discussion or argument," says Mr. Webster. The Tarzan stories are a means for avoiding discussion or argument, so that definition is out, and there only remains the last, "a text". As this connotes sermonizing we shall have to hit it on the head, which leaves me nothing at all to write about on the Tarzan theme.

Tarzan does not preach; he has no lesson to impart, no propaganda to disseminate. Yet, perhaps unconsciously, while seeking merely to entertain I have injected something of my own admiration for certain fine human qualities into these stories of the ape-man.

It is difficult and even impossible for me to take these Tarzan stories seriously, and I hope that no one else will ever take them seriously. If they serve any important purpose, it is to take their readers out of the realm of serious things and give them that mental relaxation which I believe to be as necessary as the physical relaxation of sleep -- which makes a swell opening for some dyspeptic critic.

I recall that when I wrote the first Tarzan story I was mainly interested in playing with the idea of a contest between heredity and environment. For this purpose I selected an infant child of a race strongly marked by hereditary characteristics of the finer and nobler sort; and at an age at which he could not have been influenced by association with creatures of his own kind. I threw him into an environment as diametrically opposite that to which he had been born as I might well conceive.

As I got into the story I realized that the logical result of this experiment must have been a creature that would have failed to inspire the sympathy of the ordinary reader, and that for fictional purposes I must give heredity some breaks that my judgment assured me the facts would not have warranted. And so Tarzan grew into a creature endowed only with the best characteristics of the human family from which he was descended, and the best of those which mark the wild beasts that were his only associates from infancy until he had reached man's estate.

It has pleased me throughout the long series of Tarzanian exploits to draw comparisons between the manners of men and the manner so beasts, and seldom to the advantage of men. Perhaps I hoped to shame men into being more like the beasts in those respects in which the beasts excel men, and these are not few.

I wanted my readers to realize that, of all the creatures that inhabit the earth or the waters below or the air above, man alone takes life wantonly; he is the only creature that derives pleasure from inflicting pain on other creatures, even his own kind. Jealously, greed, hate, spitefulness are more fully developed in man than in the lower orders. These are axiomatic truths that require no demonstration.

Even the lion is merciful when he makes his kill, thought doubtless not intentionally so; and the psychology of terror aids the swift mercy of his destruction. Men who have been charged and mauled by lions, and lived to tell of the experience, felt neither fear nor pain during the experience.

In the quite reasonable event that this statement may arouse some skepticism, permit me to quote from that very splendid work on animals, Mother Nature, by William J. Long, a book that should be read by every adult and be required reading in every high school course in the land:

"There are other and more definite experiences from which to form a judgment, and of these the adventure of Livingstone is the first to be considered, since he was probably the firs to record the stupefying effect of a charging animal. The great missionary and explorer was once severely mauled by a lion, his flesh being torn in eleven places by the brute's claws, and his shoulder crushed by the more terrible fangs. Here is a condensation of the story, as recorded in Missionary Travels and Research in South Africa:

"'Growling horribly close to my ear, the lion shook me as a terrier does a rat. The shock produced a stupor similar to that which seems to be felt by a mouse after the first shake of the cat. It caused a sort of dreaminess, in which there was no sense of pain nor feeling of terror.'"

Compare this, then, with the methods of the present day gangster  who cruelly tortures his victims before he kills him. The lion sought only to kill, not to inflict pain. Recall the methods of the Inquisition, and then search the records of man's experiences with lions, tigers, or any of the more formidable creatures of the wild for a parallel in studied cruelty.

Let me quote one more interesting instance given in Mr. Long's book:

"We open at random to the experience of an English officer who, in 1895, was fearfully clawed and bitten by a lion, and who writes of the experience:

"'Regarding my sensations during the time the attack upon me by the lion was in progress, I had no feeling of pain whatever, although there was a distinct feeling of being bitten; that is, I was perfectly conscious independently of seeing the performance, that the lion was gnawing at me, but there was no pain. To show that the feeling, or rather want of it, was in no wise due to excessive terror I may mention that, whilst my thighs were being gnawed, I took two cartridges out of the breast pocket of my shirt and threw them to the Kaffir, who was hovering a few yards away, telling him to load my rifle.'"
Perhaps I am not wise in giving further publicity to these statements, since they must definitely take much of the thrill out of Tarzan stories by placing lion mauling in a category with interesting and pleasurable experiences.

Having demonstrated that the most savage animals in their most terrifying moods reveal qualities far less terrible than those possessed by man, let us see how association with these beasts combined with the hereditary instincts of a noble bloodline to produce in Tarzan a character finer than either of the sources from which it derived.

Necessity required him to kill for food and in defense of his life, but the example of his savage associates never suggested that pleasure might be found in killing, and the chivalry that was in his blood stream prevented him imagining such pleasure in youth without such example. His viewpoint toward death was seemingly callous, but it was without cruelty.

His attitude toward women and other creatures weaker than he, was partially the result of innate chivalry; partially the natural outcome of a feeling of superiority engendered both by knowledge of his mental or physical superiority to every creature that had had come within his ken, and by heredity; and partially by an indifference born of absolute clean-mindedness and perfection of health.

His appeal to an audience is so tremendous that it never ceases to be a source of astonishment to me. This appeal, I believe, is based upon an almost universal admiration of these two qualities, and the natural inclination of every normal person to enjoy picturing himself as either heroic or beautiful or both. Linked to these is the constant urge to escape that is becoming stronger in all of us prisoners of civilization as civilization becomes more complex.

We wish to escape not alone the narrow confines of city streets for the freedom of the wilderness, but the restrictions of man-made laws, and the inhibitions that society has placed upon us. We like to picture ourselves as roaming free, the lords of ourselves and of our world; in other words, we would each like to be Tarzan. At least I would; I admit it.

Unconsciously or consciously, we seek to emulate the creatures we admire. Doubtless there are many people trying to be like the late Theodore Roosevelt, or like Robert Millikan, or Jack Dempsey, or Doug Fairbanks, because they greatly admire one of these characters. Fiction characters are just as real to most of us as are these celebrities of today or the past; d'Artagnan is as much flesh and blood as Napoleon. Perhaps the influence of d'Artagnan has had a finer influence upon the forming of character than has that of the great Corsican.

To indicate the force for good which a fiction character may exercise, I can do no better than cite the testimony of Eddie Eagan, Amateur Heavyweight Champion of the World, whose very interesting series of articles appeared in the Saturday Evening Post. As a boy Eagan read the Frank Merriwell books, and his admiration for this fiction character shaped his future life. Among other achievements Merriwell became an athlete and a Yale man, and these became two of Eagan's ambitions. Although a poor boy, Eagan worked his way through an education, first in college in Denver, then through Yale, and finally Oxford; and he became one of the greatest athletes of our times.

Years ago, when I came to a realization of the hold that Tarzan had taken upon the imaginations of many people, I was glad that I had made of him the sort of character that I had; and since then I have been careful not to permit him to let his foot slip, no matter what the temptation. I must admit that at times this has been difficult when I have placed him in situations where I would not have been quite sure of my own footing, and it has also not been easy to keep him from being a Prude.

On the whole, however, I must have been more or less successful, for all ages and both sexes continue to admire him; and he goes his bloody way scattering virtue and sudden death indiscriminately and in all directions.

He may not be a force for good; and if he entertains, that is all I care about; but I am sure that he is not a force for evil, which is something these days.
 

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Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan Creator, 
Was Never In Africa
Associated Press ~ July 9, 1939

Tarzana, Cal - (AP) -- The man who has been to Africa a million times in his imagination used to think he'd like to go there, but lately he's decided he might be disappointed.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, who has made a fortune writing about places he never has seen (or expects to see) sees no romance in his immediate surroundings, he says, and fears very much that a trip to Tarzan's playground might cause him to lose the glamour and fascination it has held for him. Moreover, he thinks he isn't a good reporter and therefore wouldn't "see" Africa at all. 

He doesn't know how he happened to start writing the Tarzan stories. Twenty-seven years ago, he was scratching around for an idea and hit upon that of a white boy, lost in a jungle, who is reared by an ape. With a copy of Stanley's "In Darkest Africa" and a 50-cent dictionary, he set to work. 

The single technical error he made in that first story was to have tigers in Africa. When the story caught on, and Burroughs realized he would have to write more he delved into Africa description and history like one on a rampage. In the years since his library of Africana has grown to fill a room and he is an authority on his adopted country.

Burroughs has moved out of the town that grew up around his ranch, but still works in Tarzana. The town, of course, is another of those little areas of galloping, all-embracing Los Angeles, but it has its own post office, chamber of commerce and civic problems. When he remarried four years ago he took a large apartment in Hollywood with Mrs. Burroughs and her two children, now aged seven and nine. He motors the 20 miles each morning to Tarzana to work. 

He says he gets lazier every day, that he finds more things to do that don't net him a penny -- distractions which keep him from writing -- than he knew existed. He works four or five hours a day, some days, and takes about six months for each novel. He has written 22 Tarzans and an equal number of other adventure tales. 

He writes best in longhand, but fastest on the typewriter. When his oculist told him typing was harmful to his eyes, he tried dictating to a stenographer, "but, heck, I was too self-conscious."

"Then I got a a dictating machine and now I put my feet up on my desk and talk away. Next, I'm going to move over into this corner." He indicated a couch and ht thinks one of these days he'll be able to recline while putting his favorite character over the hurdles.

Takes Care of Himself.
Burroughs obviously has taken good care of himself. He is 64. He has a large frame and square shoulders and a clear, tanned complexion. He hasn't been able to do much about his hair; it's thinning. He is soft spoken and not an easy talker. He has no memory for dates or figures. He tells a story well, however, once he gets underway.

When he ws living on his ranch, he worked a rock quarry for exercise. He rode horseback almost daily, too. Hew once owned an airplane, and flew frequently until one of his older sons cracked up and was almost killed. Now he plays tennis and believes five sets on a Sunday afternoon "is pretty good for a man of my age."

Burroughs ws a cowboy  and a soldier and an executive with a mail order company before he began, at the age of 35, to write.

"I am fitted neither by training nor temperament to be a writer, but I guess I am one," he laughs. "I wanted to write and found it came pretty easy. I concluded I was just a natural born story teller."

Tarzan has earned Burroughs a lot of money. He refuses to say how much nor will he say anything about figures on book sales. He has been his own publisher since 1931 "because I don't see any sense in splitting the returns with somebody else."

He says, when you ask him about his earnings: "Just say tarzan has earned everybody concerned a hundred million dollars." He explained that that figure includes returns on the Tarzan movies as well as estimated sales of gasoline which sponsored Tarzan radio serials.

"He, like every author, doesn't like rental libraries. He says there must be 40,000 of them. Even if they buy one book each ("which I am sure they don't -- they wait to buy them in the second hand store") they are keeping a possible 400,000 potential buyers from buying. 

Burroughs wishes he had a hobby. He's considered stamps, but they're hard on the eyes, and wood-working doesn't interest him.

"I have an idea collecting bookplates," he said, "would be an easy hobby. I've been wondering for a long time how to go about starting. It occurred to me recently that maybe I'd just better write people and ask them for theirs, like people are always asking for mine."

Burroughs has an interesting bookplate. If you want to help him get a hobby underway, Tarzana, Calif., USA will reach him.

.
 

Writer Warns Unauthorized 'Tarzans' To Drop The Name
Edgar Rice Burroughs Says Plug Uglies Are Making Bum Out Of His Character
UP ~ May 19, 1939

TARZANA, Calif., ~ Edgar Rice Burroughs served notice today on all unauthorized Tarzans, whose number is legion, and whose ears mostly are cauliflower, to quit insulting the name that he made famous.

As creator of a major industry based upon the adventures of his mythical ape man, Burroughs informed the Tarzans, including wrestlers, prizefighters, and professional footballers, that they're making a bum of the original Tarzan. He said they'd have to change their names or face the consequences.

"What got me worried about the situation," he reported here in the white stucco lair of Tarzan, the ape man, "was a wrestling match I saw the other night, featuring a Mr. Tarzan Orth.

"This Mr. Tarzan Orth danced around the ring a while, fell on his face, and posed like a dying fawn. All the fans at ringside took out their handkerchiefs and waved them at Mr. Tarzan Orth and said:
"'You-hoo, Tarzan'!"

Sharp Notes Issue
This insult to the king of the jungle, whom he first imagined in 1912 and who has been going strong ever since in books, magazines, newspapers and movie theaters, caused Burroughs to write sharp notes to all the Tarzans he knew.

A typical letter from the president of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., went to a Mr. Tarzan White, member of the West Coast wrestling syndicate. It said:

"I have not granted you permission to the use of this name and I now notify you that I do not grant such permission. Your use of this name in connection with your activities may result in confusion in the minds of the public and result in damage to this character and its name."

Burroughs said there was only one man in t he world authorized to call himself Tarzan, and that wa Johnny Weissmuller, for whom the studios had paid the proper fee, and who actually looked on the silver sheet like Tarzan ought to look.

Broken-Nosed Apes
"The other self-christened Tarzans are apes, all right," Burroughs said, "only they're muscle-bound and have broken noses. Furthermore, 'Tarzan' is a copyrighted trademark, and if these plug uglies insist upon using it, I'm going to insist on the right to license them and stencil the copyright number on their chests."

The genial Burroughs, who operates all his Tarzan enterprises from this town, named after his celebrated character, said he'd had considerable Tarzan trouble lately.

"And the worst was when I bought a pedigreed sheep dog for my son," he said. "The boy wanted to name his pet 'Tarzan' and would you know? The breeders' association would not let us use that name. They said somebody else already had a sheep dog named 'Tarzan.' 

"And that's the way it goes and I'm getting tired of it."

Burroughs said he understood some parents had named their babies "Tarzan." This, he said, is all right. A Tarzan that starts from scratch should turn into a fine young man and be a credit to the keen-eyed, lithe-limber Tarzan.
 

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Weissmuller Ideal Tarzan Says Creator
Author Got Thrill From Latest Film Episode
By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Hartford, Connecticut, Courant ~ June 15, 1939

At the risk of having burning ashes heaped upon my head from all corners of the earth, I am going to start this brief article by stating that undoubtedly the worst critic of a motion picture or a play is the author himself. That is natural: the author visualizes something in his mind which others must recreate into flesh-and-blood persons and actual backgrounds. The vision and the actuality are never the same.

I say this without an attempt at modesty or pride; I mention it only as a fact. It is something every author learns. The first time he learns it is when a magazine illustrates one of his stories. He begins to groan to himself that the nitwit illustrator didn't draw his characters as the author pictured them.

If every author were also an illustrator and an actor, everything would be perfect. He would describe himself as the hero, play himself on the screen and draw himself in illustrations. Mind you, I'm not taking about myself; I don't think I'd look so hot in a loin cloth and long hair bellowing the Tarzan yell. There may have been a time when . . . but we'll skip that.

The other evening, I sat in a theatre and saw the preview of my latest Tarzan story to reach the screen. It was Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's "Tarzan Finds A Son" and there were Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan and Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane and a group of other actors as my characters. 

Doesn't Criticize Own Yarns
Of course, it is a thrill to see real persons enact one's pet characters. I've seen it done time and again now, starting 'way back in screen history when Elmo Lincoln was Tarzan. But, I am no longer a critic of my own stories on the screen. Johnny Weissmuller is just Tarzan to me. The fact that he is ideal for the role may have something to do with it, but not wholly.

The real determining factor is that Weissmuller is what the public accepts as Tarzan. If they didn't, the Tarzan pictures wouldn't be the great successes they always have been. You see, a long time ago I learned that readers are the real critics. No matter what an author may think he thinks, it's the public that tells him what is right and what is wrong.

Tarzan in the Tarzan newspaper cartoon strip is the Ape Man as some 10,000,000 readers prefer him. So is Weissmuller on the screen. There is a strange resemblance between both the artist's Tarzan and Weissmuller's. One may have prompted the other or it may have been a lucky combination. I don't try to figure out why; I just merely accept it as fact.

I believe I do know, however, why Tarzan is popular in fiction, cartoon strip and on the screen. It is because Tarzan is a character into which every man can slide himself mentally and, by the same token, into whose arms every woman can slide herself. He is the materialization of good health and the body perfect, the body potent and masterful.

The Fantastic Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs
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ERBzine Weekly Webzine
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Danton Burroughs Website: Tarzana Treasure Vaults
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Burroughs Bibliophiles
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John Coleman Burroughs Tribute Site
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Tarzine: Official Monthly Webzine of ERB, Inc.
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John Carter of Mars
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Edgar Rice Burroughs
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ERBzine Weekly Webzine
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Danton Burroughs Weekly Webzine
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Pellucidar
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John Carter Film News

ERB, Inc. Corporate Site

ERB Centennial

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