Disney's recent release of the animated feature "Tarzan" has sparked a renewed interest in what has been a passion of George McWhorter's for years.
McWhorter has managed to accumulate a vast assortment of Edgar Rice Burroughs memorabilia as curator of a memorial collection honoring the author and housed in the Ekstrom Library.
The collection includes more than 75,000 pieces of memorabilia and books on the Tarzan character Burroughs created. McWhorter's fascination with the character began in childhood when his mother taught him to read by using the tale of the boy raised by apes in the jungle.
"Every night I would beg my mother for just one more chapter, but she always said when you learn to read you can read all you want. That is what motivated me," McWhorter said.
Each night after his mother left his bedside, he would curl up and read by the light of the moon or by flashlight under the covers and lose himself in the adventures of Tarzan.
McWhorter decided to start collecting after his mother's death in 1936, and has dedicated the collection to her. Starting with the first release in 1912, McWhorter's collection contains all of the original Tarzan books in their dust covers; the value is estimated at $4,000 apiece.
The collection also contains the military cape that Burroughs wore in 1892. McWhorter has collected matchbook covers, toys, posters, comics, Tarzan reprints in 35 languages, Big Little Books, glossy stills, lunchboxes and more.
The collector has spun the tales of Tarzan and Burroughs to all who will listen. He said young and old have come from all parts of the country to see his vast collection.
As for the movie, McWhorter says it will be a hit.
"I think that the movie was great, it focused mainly on family values, and it captures the essence of Burroughs' character."
The new Tarzan movie has been number one since its debut three weeks ago and has grossed $34.1 million.
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