OAK PARK MAN IS MALIBU'S MAYOR
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Oak Leaves ~ September 1, 1933
achievement after another has crowded into the eventual life of Edgar Rice
Burroughs, author of "Tarzan" stories and plays -- and no one is more surprised
about it than Edgar Rice Burroughs himself. His first Tarzan story, written
while he lived in Oak Park, brought him fame and fortune over night, while
publishers pleaded for additional stories on the same simian subject. Then
moving picture producers, quick to follow the spark of promise, eagerly
solicited plays of the Tarzan theme.
Mr. Burroughs wrote day and night to supply all these demands, almost
fearful that he would wake up to find it all a dream. In the meantime he
moved to California and from the sample profits of his first Tarzan books
bought the beautiful 200-acre ranch of a retired newspaper editor, in the
center of which stands a spreading vine-covered castle, the approach to
the gates of which are bordered for a mile or more which red ragged-robin
roses. But it is not in this castle of rare furnishing and charm
that Edgar Rice Burroughs writes -- for he prefers the privacy and the
dust of a huge loft above his garage into which no servant or any member
of his family dare trespass.
A typewriter, a male secretary, a desk and two chairs, with the usual
reference library, are the author's only surroundings during his working
hours, which for some time, were all day and sometimes all night -- when
a publishing dead-line had to be reached. Eventually the law of nature
began to take toll and made a cessation of the author's efforts imperative
-- if he wanted to retain his lease upon life. He slowed down, reluctantly,
but after realizing the real danger of his condition, quite obediently.
After a year's complete rest he was permitted to resume his work again
at a more reasonable pace -- and due to the lesson learned by suffering
-- he was careful to keep his efforts within the limit of his vitality.
Since that time, Mr. Burroughs has published another book and several Tarzan
moving pictures have been produced successfully. Meanwhile, the royalties
from America and Europe have poured in -- and Edgar Rice Burroughs, kindly
and lovable, has grown grey at the temples, brown and rugged as a cowboy
-- and has never for a moment let his phenomenal success go to his head.
A recent signal honor for Mr. Burroughs came a few days ago when he
was elected at a town meeting -- the "Mayor of Malibu," a fashionable ocean
resort inhabited almost entirely by moving picture people and within a
short distance of Beverly Hills, California.
years ago Edgar Rice Burroughs lived with his family in Oak Park and he
frankly admits now that he had a "darn hard time to get along." A bit shabby
of habiliment, he rather uneasily occupied a business desk in a mail order
house in Chicago, answering the "complaints" of mail order buyers -- and
his answers were not always convincing. Perhaps his mind was occupied with
African jungles and menacing apes swinging from tree-tops. But he found
outlet for his literary inspirations by writing nights at home -- although
he never confided to anyone his ambitions and aspirations.
Stealthily, half-ashamed, he wrote the first five chapters of his "Tarzan"
story [sic] -- then sent them with a letter to an eastern publisher to
ask if they were worth while. His hopes did not run high while awaiting
the verdict -- consequently, he was overwhelmed with joy and surprise when
the word came to -- "Finish and submit as soon as possible." Edgar Rice
Burroughs scarcely took time to eat or sleep until the story of "Tarzan"
[sic] in complete form -- was on its way to the publisher -- and the reward
of genius within a month lay at his feet.
Mr. Burroughs will be in the book section of Marshal Field and Company,
Chicago, on Saturday afternoon to autograph copies of his new book, "Tarzan
and the City of Gold."