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ERB of the Silver Screen
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TARZAN OF THE APES (1918)
FILM CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION
ON FILM by Scott Tracy Griffin
Valentine's Day with Tarzan and Jane
Invited by Scott Tracy Griffin
Open to Public · Hosted by Edgar
Wednesday, February 14 at 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM PST
Hollywood Heritage Museum
Los Angeles, California 90068
The 2018 Tarzan Film Centennial celebrations will
kick off on February 14 with "Valentines Day with Tarzan and Jane" at the
Hollywood Heritage Museum, where Scott Tracy Griffin, Director of Special
Projects for Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. will discuss the film franchise's
For more information, see
Celebrating the 2018
Tarzan Film Centennial #1
In October 1912, “The All-Story”
pulp magazine printed, complete in one issue, the adventure novel “Tarzan
of the Apes” by fledgling author Edgar Rice Burroughs, whose previous story,
“Under the Moons of Mars” (later retitled “A Princess of Mars”)
had run in the February-June
issues of the magazine under the pseudonym “Norman Bean.”
“Tarzan of the Apes” was an immediate
sensation, and newspapers across the country began reprinting the story
in serialized form.
The novel presaged great things
for Burroughs, and was a turning point in American pop culture.
Recognizing the commercial potential
of his creation, Burroughs soon embarked on a sequel, “The Return of Tarzan,”
launching what would eventually become a series of 24 novels and a media
Celebrating the 2018
Tarzan Film Centennial #2
In 1914, the pulp story “Tarzan
of the Apes” was published as a hardback novel by Chicago publisher A.C.
Author Edgar Rice Burroughs,
ever the entrepreneur, retained agent Cora Wilkening, to shop the book
to movie producers and studios in the nascent film industry.
Burroughs met with Colonel William
Selig, who was producing jungle pictures through his Selig Polyscope company,
but the Colonel eventually passed
on Tarzan, opting instead to produce Burroughs’ story “The Lad and
the Lion,” which was released on May 14, 1917.
Celebrating the Tarzan
Film Centennial #3
By 1916, Edgar Rice Burroughs was
a prosperous author (having written two dozen stories in four years), who
posed for this formal studio portrait at age 41.
On June 6 of that year, Burroughs
sold the film rights to his novel “Tarzan of the Apes” to producer William
“Smiling Bill” Parsons
for a $5,000 cash advance, stock,
and five percent of the gross box office.
William E. “Smiling Bill” Parsons
(seen here in a 1919 promotional photo for “The New Breakfast Food”) was
a former insurance salesman-turned comedy actor and producer.
Celebrating the Tarzan
Film Centennial #4
Upon optioning “Tarzan of the
Apes” on June 12, 1916, he immediately encountered difficulties meeting
deadlines and paying author Edgar Rice Burroughs’ advance, until he was
finally able to raise the money by hiring David Watkins as a sales agent.
Watkins procured the capital
from a Wyoming cattlemen’s association. On Oct. 28, 1916, Burroughs received
$10,000 in stock and the balance of his $5,000 advance for film rights
to his novel.
Burroughs was already growing
impatient with the false promises and glacial pace of the production.
Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #5
In early 1917, producer William E. Parsons moved his operation
from Chicago to Hollywood, establishing his National Film Corporation at
L. Frank Baum’s former Oz Manufacturing Studios at Gower Street and Santa
There, Parsons began pre-production on his planned
epic, “Tarzan of the Apes.” Former newspaperman William E. Wing was hired
to script, which became a bone of contention with author Edgar Rice Burroughs,
who was unhappy with Wing’s changes to the original novel. Parsons assured
Burroughs that other writers would smooth out the script; Fred Miller and
Lois Weber were eventually credited for the scenario.
Wing later returned to the franchise to script “Tarzan
and the Golden Lion” (1927), starring James Pierce as Tarzan.
Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #6
After considering South America and Tampa, Florida for
the “Tarzan of the Apes” location shoot, producer William E. Parsons chose
Morgan City, Louisiana, and the surrounding Atchafalaya Basin swamp as
a stand-in for the African jungle.
On August 1, 1917, the cast and crew, numbering 21
people, and including leads Stellan Windrow (Tarzan) and Gordon Griffith
(Tarzan the child) departed Hollywood by train for the six-week shoot.
A team of professional acrobats, hired to play the
apes, was supplemented by athletes from the New Orleans Athletic Club.
The shoot date was chosen to accommodate the local
sugarcane harvest; 300 local workers were to be hired in the off-season
to play natives. In the photo below, the sailor Binns (George B. French),
castaway on the shores of Africa with Tarzan’s parents, is captured by
Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #7
“WANTED: DIRECTOR and Technical Staff
For the production of the Super-feature
‘Tarzan of the Apes’
From the celebrated novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Director
must have proven ability of the highest order. Leading man must be six
feet or more in height and athletic in build and by experience. Letters
treated in strictest confidence.”
The above advertisement ran in the April 19, 1917 “Motion
Picture News” Hollywood trade paper.
After casting call lasting three months, Stellen S.
Windrow was chosen to portray Tarzan in the National Film Corporation’s
feature film. Windrow was born September 2, 1893, in Chicago, Illinois
to a pair of Swedish physicians, Sven Vindruvva and Anna Mamqvist Holm.
A 6’2", 200-pound University of Chicago athlete, Windrow excelled in swimming,
track and field, while working summers at Essanay’s Chicago studios.
Unfortunately, Windrow’s Tarzan tenure was cut short
when he was drafted for World War I service as he was shooting arboreal
sequences in the Louisiana swamps. Although his footage was incorporated
into the final film, Windrow was given a $1,000 buyout to remain uncredited,
and the role was recast with Hollywood strongman and D.W. Griffith player
Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #8
When “Tarzan of the Apes” leading man Stellan Windrow
was drafted for military service in World War I, actor Elmo Lincoln was
selected as his replacement. Lincoln had already auditioned (his tryout
consisted of climbing a telephone guy wire hand-over-hand), and was known
in Hollywood as a “Maciste” strongman type, due to his 53-inch chest.
Lincoln was born Otto Elmo Linkenhelt on February 6,
1889, in Rochester, Indiana to businessman Louis R. Linkenhelt and his
wife Eldora Hunter Linkenhelt. Following high school, he drifted west,
working as a railroad fireman and deputy sheriff before arriving in Hollywood.
There he was discovered by one of director D.W. Griffith’s scouts at the
beach in Santa Monica.
Lincoln’s film debut was a small role as a cavalry
sergeant in the two-reel Western “The Battle at Elderbrush Gulch”. He appeared
in other Griffith films including “Judith of Bethulia,” “Birth of a Nation,”
and “Intolerance,” and in Hobart Bosworth’s “Burning Daylight” and “John
Barleycorn.” Lincoln typically played soldiers, blacksmiths, and other
Lincoln received $100 per day to play Tarzan, and chose
a wolfskin as his wardrobe to avoid the circus-strongman cliché
of leopardskin trunks. Due to his hirsuteness, he was shaved twice a day
during the production. Though he wasn’t author Edgar Rice Burroughs’ conception
of Tarzan, he performed credibly in the role; his delivery was ingenuous
and unsophisticated, as befitted the ape man.
Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #9
Gordon Griffith portrayed the ape man as a boy in “Tarzan
of the Apes,” cavorting with the trained chimps Sally and Prince Charles,
wards of the E&R Jungle Film Company, as the youthful jungle lord learned
to survive in the wild.
“Gordon Griffith covers himself with glory as Tarzan,
the Boy,” announced the “Exhibitor’s Trade Review” (February 9, 1918).
“This youngster plays the role like a veteran and gets more out of it than
one would naturally expect from a boy in his teens.”
Griffith was born on July 4, 1907, in Chicago, Illinois
to actors Harry Sutherland Griffith and Katherine Kierman Griffith. He
began acting at age four with Universal, and worked for Vitagraph, Keystone,
Metro, and Monogram. Brother Graham was also an actor.
Griffith returned to the Tarzan franchise in “The Romance
of Tarzan” (1918) and “The Son of Tarzan” (1920). Following his acting
career, Griffith worked as an assistant director and production manager,
before becoming a Columbia production executive under Harry Cohn.
Celebrating the Tarzan Film Centennial #10
Popular silent film ingénue Enid Markey was cast
as the first Jane, opposite lead Elmo Lincoln, in “Tarzan of the Apes”.
Markey returned to the role for the sequel, “The Romance of Tarzan,” before
abandoning Hollywood for the Broadway stage, where she earned leads in
numerous productions. Decades later, she returned to film and television
for roles like Gomer’s “Grandma Pyle” on “Gomer Pyle” and Barney Fife’s
landlady “Mrs. Mandelbright” on “The Andy Griffith Show.”
Born Enid Virginia Markey on February 22, 1893 in Dillon,
Colorado to Irish immigrants John Markey and Catherine Childress Markey,
Markey got her start on the local stage and attended high school in Denver.
When her father, who owned mines and ran a livery stable, died in 1909,
Enid and her mother struck out for California, determined to break into
the fledgling motion picture industry. After shooting a pair of pictures
for Bison in San Diego, Enid caught the eye of Thomas Ince, who began casting
her in his Inceville productions. There, she worked for director Scott
Sidney, with whom she would reunite on “Tarzan of the Apes”.
On October 15, 1942, Markey married businessman George
Watson “Ty” Cobb, Jr.; the two took up residence at the Algonquin hotel,
spending time whenever possible at their beach house on Fire Island.
On November 15, 1981, Markey died at South Side Hospital
in Bay Shore, Long Island, New York, after a series of heart attacks. She
had no children with Cobb, who pre-deceased her.
For more information on the 52
authorized Tarzan movies and 7 television series,
check out “Tarzan on Film” (Titan
Books, 2016), by Scott Tracy Griffin.
In November 1917, production wrapped on "Tarzan of the
Apes", filmed in the swamps outside Morgan City, Louisiana and in Hollywood
at Griffith Park, E&R Jungle Film Company, and the old Selig Zoo.
Directed by Scott Sidney for National Film Corporation,
the picture starred Elmo Lincoln and Enid Markey as the ape man and his
mate. It premiered at the Broadway Theatre in New York City on Sunday,
January 27, 1918, and became one of the first six silent films to earn
more than one million dollars.
Enid Markey and Elmo Lincoln in Tarzan of the Apes (1918
film), shot in Morgan City Louisiana and Los Angeles in August-November,
It premiered at the Broadway Theatre in New York City
on Sunday, January 27, 1918, launching the Tarzan film franchise (based
on the series of 24 novels by American author Edgar Rice Burroughs), which
currently includes 52 authorized films and seven television series.
Windrow poses as Tarzan in the treetops of Louisiana.
On September 18, 1917, the cast and crew of “Tarzan
of the Apes,” the first film based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ immortal apeman,
were bound for Hollywood on a four-day train ride after five weeks of location
shooting in the Atchafalaya Swamps outside Morgan City Louisiana.
The film crew had lost their first jungle lord, Stellan
S. Windrow (né Vindruva) to the navy for World War I when his draft
number was called up and Tarzan was found physically fit for service (no
surprises there). He was replaced by Elmo Lincoln, a member of D.W. Griffith’s
stock company renowned for his 53-inch chest. Lincoln would go on to be
remembered as the first film Tarzan when Windrow’s arboreal footage and
all rights associated with it were bought for $1,000, along with his silence.
A 6’2", 200-pound University of Chicago athlete, Windrow
was born September 2, 1893, in Chicago, Illinois to a pair of Swedish physicians.
After his wartime service, he married and settled in London later moving
to Paris for several years, dubbing English films into Swedish for Paramount.
He eventually returned to the U.S. and resettled in New York, where he
worked as a news photographer and served in the Red Cross for World War
II. He died November 25, 1959 in New York of hardening of the arteries.
More on Windrow in ERBzine at
On July 31, 1917, director Scott Sidney arrived in Morgan
City, Louisiana to begin scouting locations for "Tarzan of the Apes", the
first ape-man film, which was in pre-production in Hollywood at Gower Studios,
the former site of L. Frank Baum's Oz Film Manufacturing studios.
A few days later, Sidney's crew arrived by train from
Hollywood and began shooting jungle footage in the Atchafalaya Swamp outside
When leading man Stellan Windrow, a 6'2" Chicago athlete,
enlisted for service in World War I, Elmo Lincoln was cast in the role
and joined the production. Here, Lincoln (as Tarzan) cradles the body of
Kala, his ape mother, shot down by a cannibal's arrow.
Kala and the other apes were portrayed by circus acrobats
and members of the New Orleans Athletic Club, wearing goat-skin suits crafted
by E.M. Jahrhaus, the former head of the property department at Universal
The apes' faces were controlled by an ingenious system
of wires which allowed the actors to grimace and make other simian expressions,
similar to the effects achieved decades later by Rick Baker on "Greystoke:
The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes".
Click for full-size preview collage
BACK TO OUR INTRO PAGE FOR
TARZAN OF THE APES (1918)
Celebrate the 100th Anniversary
of Tarzan of the Apes in film with
SCOTT TRACY GRIFFIN and his
TARZAN ON FILM
PART I :: PART
II :: PART III
:: PART IV :: PART
V :: PART VI ::
VII :: PART VIII::
:: PART X
:: PART XI:: PART
:: PART XIX :: PART
XX :: PART
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