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A Series Analysis Noting Similarities to Tarzan
Roy Rockwood Stories ~ Comics ~ Art
Johnny Sheffield ~ Photos ~ Bio ~ Plots
Bomba the Jungle Boy was first published in 1926, was one of the earliest and most successful of the many Tarzan imitators. , Authorship was credited to Roy Rockwood, a Stratemeyer Syndicate pseudonym, but the actual author for most of the series was probably John Duffiel), The books were popular and sold well, as indicated by the number of titles in the series, the longevity of its time in print, and the number of spinoffs into movies and comics.1. BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY; or, The Old Naturalist's Secret ~ 1926, Cupples & Leon
Bomba lived far back in the jungles of the Amazon with a half-demented naturalist who told the lad nothing of his past. The jungle boy was a lover of birds, and hunted animals with a bow and arrow and his trusty machete. He had a primitive education in some things, and his daring adventures will be followed with breathless interest by thousands.--- Cupples & Leon advertisement
||1. BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY (1949 - 70 minutes - Monogram)
Peggy Ann Garner. Onslow Stevens. Charles Irwin. Smoki Whitfield. Martin Wilkins.
Two commercial photographers, George Harland and his daughter Pat (played by Peggy Ann Garner, another former child performer) are in the jungle to film the unusual, guided by old friend Andy Barnes. During a trek to the Great Rift, Pat does some exploring of her own accompanied by her gun-bearer Mufti. Mufti is killed by a leopard, which is in turn killed by a jungle boy named Bomba who was raised by an aged naturalist, Cody Casson. At first, Pat is apprehensive and tries to warn him away with her revolver. He disarms her and then leaves. Alone, the girl becomes lost and is forced to catch up with him. Despite pleas to help her return to her father, the boy is unwilling. However, later that night while she is asleep, the boy makes an attempt to contact the father, but is wounded when the impetuous parent fires at him. Eventually the boy and Pat arrive at Bomba's home, a cave overlooking a peaceful jungle paradise. Pat would like to stay, but decides she has to locate her father.Unknown to her, Harland is hot on the trail, intending to kill Bomba as a kidnapper, but his plan goes awry when a plague of locusts descends upon Harland and Barnes. Later, the safari is forced to head back through the territory of the lion hunters, and when Barnes kills a lion to save his friend Eli, the natives -- who are deadly lion worshippers -- attack them. But Bomba and Pat arrive, and the lad sets fire to the brush as a barrier against the angry savages. Later, having helped the party with their raft, Bomba takes his leave, unwilling to leave his jungle friends and accompany the Harlands to America. Much of the film is built around stock footage from a 1930 documentary, Africa Speaks.
||2. BOMBA ON PANTHER ISLAND (1949 - 76 minutes)
Allene Roberts. Lita Baron. Harry Lewis. Charles Irwin. Smoki Whitfield.
After the death of his pet monkey by a marauding panther, Bomba goes after the killer beast. Its trail leads him to Andy Barnes' home where architect Rob Maitland is trying to clear land for an agricultural project. He has brought his sister Judy is with him to help set up the plantation, although she has no desire to stay. The panther kills two of the native workers, but their superstitious companions do not want the animal molested. The natives also believe that the servant girl, Losana, has the evil eye. Bomba takes an interest in Judy, but she wants no part of life in the jungle. When Rob accidentally causes a forest fire, Bomba and the girl are forced into a cave where the jungle boy has to kill a panther. A rainstorm puts out the fire, and everybody learns valuable lessons, including Judy, who decides to remain and help her brother.
||3. THE LOST VOLCANO (1950 - 67 minutes)
Donald Woods. Marjorie Lord. John Ridgely. Robert Lewis. Elena Verdugo. Don Harvey.
Grandon Rhodes. Tommy Ivo
Archæologist Charles Langley arrive in Africa with his guides Barton and Higgins in search of a lost volcano. They meet hunter Paul Gordon and his wife Ruth who are contemplating sending their son David to a boarding school in Capetown, to remove him from the influence of Bomba, whom they see as a white wild boy swinging through the trees like an ape. The guides see a bejewelled gold knife that Bomba gave David from a lost city near a volcano, they devise a plan to force David to lead them to the lost city. Langley is killed attempted to rescue the boy. Bomba, after a series of adventures, catches up with and attacks the kidnappers who eventually meet their deaths at the volcano. The volcano footage is of an Italian volcano obtained from the film files of National Geographic and the Encyclopædia Britannica.
||4. THE HIDDEN CITY (1950 - 71 minutes)
Sue England. Paul Guilfoyle. Damian O'Flynn. Leon Belasco. Charles La Torre. Smoki Whitfield.
Bomba, who has witnessed a murder, is hunted by Emir Hassan and his men. A poor Arab villager named Raschid is trying to improve his lot in life by consenting to having his foster daughter, Zidah, join Hassan's household. Hassan's henchman knifes Bomba. Zidah comes to his aid and later follows him into the jungle to escape Hassan's plan. Museum photographer, Dennis Johnson, and his guide Hadji find her, but Hassan take the girl away and head for the hidden city. Bomba follows, and after a series of engagements defeats Hassan and his henchmen. Zidah turns out to be the daughter of the rulers of the lost city who had been killed by Hassan. Bomba returns the lost princess to her rightful throne.
||5. THE LION HUNTERS (1951 - 75 minutes)
Morris Ankrum. Ann B. Todd. Douglas Kennedy. Smoki Whitfield. Robert Davis. Woody Strode.
Lion trapper, Forbes, and his daughter, Jean, rendezvous with their hardheaded partner, Martin, in the African jungle. They are slaughtering lions on sacred Masai grounds. Bomba releases the lions and tells them that the lions were meant to run free but of course they pay no heed. The trappers turn to the Masai for help but accidentally kill the chief's son during a lion hunt. The natives drive lions into Martin's camp. Bomba reaches the camp too late to save Martin but kills a lion to save Forbes. The safari is forced to leave the district.
||6. BOMBA AND THE ELEPHANT STAMPEDE (1951 - 71 minutes)
Donna Martell. John Kellog. Edith Evanson. Martin Wilkins. Myron Healey. Leonard Mudie. Guy Kingsford.
A school teacher, Miss Banks, and her beautiful assistant, Lola, are teaching the Bomba and the locals to read when two ivory poachers, Warren and Collins, arrive in the village. When the poachers witness Bomba finding the body of their guide whom they have killed, they wound Lola in their attempt to kill the jungle boy. The poachers learn that the village chief is about to turn over to the missionary a cache of ivory, hidden by Arab ivory traders long ago. Warren kills his partner when disagrees with his plan to use the wounded girl to force Bomba to lead them to the ivory. Bomba calls on his elephant friends to kill Warren and the ivory is turned over to Miss Banks who will use it to improve life in the village.
||7. AFRICAN TREASURE (1952 - 70 minutes)
Laurette Luez. Lyle Talbot. Arthur Space. Lane Bradford. Martin Garralaga.
Smoki Whitfield. Leonard Mudie. Woody Strode
Two unscrupulous diamond smugglers posing as geologists force the locals to work diamond mine in a hidden crater..A third smuggler forces Commissioner Barnes to lead him to his conferates' operation. Bomba aids a young woman, Lita Sebastian, who is looking for her missing father, Pedro. She is eventually captured and taken to the diamond mine, where she is reunited with her father, who is also a prisoner of the villains. When the villains have collected enough diamonds they imprison their slave workers with a landslide and head out for their boat hidden at the native village. Bomba catches up with them and Commissioner arrives to help dispose of the crooks. Pedro is able to find an opening in the cave through which the native prisoners are able to dig their way out.Hilights include Bomba's jungle drums, underwater action and a Woody Strode appearance as a native mailman.
||8. BOMBA AND THE JUNGLE GIRL (1952 - 70 minutes)
Karen Sharpe. Walter Sande. Suzette Harbin. Martin Wilkins. Morris Buchanan. Leonard Mudie. Don Blackman.
While on a quest for information on the true identity of his parents Bomba rescues Linda Ward, the daughter of a visiting government official, from a crocodile. Reaching Gamboso's village he learns from a blind native woman that his parents were killed by Gamboso's men and buried in a cave in the hills. Gamoboso's daughter, Boru, kills the woman with a poison dart and Bomba is turned over to the government official for the murder. Linda, the official's daughter forces Bomba's release, promising to investigate the whole mess. While leading an attack on the Wards, Boru is trapped under a fallen tree in a jungle fire she has started. Bomba and Linda rescue her and they seek shelter in a cave where Bomba finds the evidence needed to convict Gamboso. Boru escapes the cave but is killed by the jungle fire.
||9. SAFARI DRUMS (1953 - 71 minutes)
Douglas Kennedy. Barbara Bestar. Paul Marion. Russ Conway. Emory Parnell. Smoki Whitfield. Leonard Mudie.
Millionaire Larry Conrad brings a tiger and film crew to Africa in hopes of staging a lion/tiger battle. Commissioner Barnes learns that one of the crew is a murderer and asks Bomba to find out which one. With Bomba's help, Conrad gets some great animal shots of elephants and lions, but when Morton, the guide, needlessly kills a lion, Bomba enlists his animal friends to capture the murderous guide. When the Commissioner's assistant, Peggy, discovers that Morton is the wanted murderer she is kidnapped before she can tell anyone. Morton then sets off the early fight between the lion and imported tiger to help him get away. Bomba catches up with him just as he is killed by a lion, which Bomba is then forced to kill. Conrad's plans for using amazing cat fight footage are dashed when he sees Bomba's pet chimp wrapped up in the exposed film.
||10. THE GOLDEN IDOL (1954 - 71 minutes)
Anne Kimbell. Paul Guilfoyle. Leonard Mudie. Smoki Whitfield. Lane Bradford. Rick Vallin.
Prince Ali wants the Golden Idol of Watusi and hires, Hawkins, a ruthless hunter to get it for him from Bomba.Actually the villainous Arab chieftain had wrested it from a native chief through torture, and Bomba, finding the dying man, promised to get it back and use it to help his people. A rep form a London museum arrives with Commissioner Barnes to buy the precious artifact only to learn the truth. By now, Ali and Hawkins will do anything to get the valuable object so they capture and threaten to torture the Commissioner's party if Bomba doesn't deliver it. N'Kimba, Bomba's pet chimp, helps the party escape and Bomba alerts the local police by a drum message. Bomba then overturns the villains' boat, Ali drowns, Hawkins is captured, and the police arrive to arrest the villains. The museum buys the idol and the funds are turned over to the needy tribe.
||11. KILLER LEOPARD (1954 - 70 minutes)
Beverly Garland. Barry Bernard. Donald Murphy. Leonard Mudie. Smoki Whitfield.
Russ Conway. Rory Mallinson. Roy Glenn.
Bomba is hunting a rogue leopard when Commissioner Barnes asks him to assist film star Linda Winters who is trying to find her lost husband, an accountant who has embezzled a great deal of money from his employers.. The husband isn't lost and is in Africa attempting to use the money he embezzled to purchase illicit diamonds and he wants nothing to do with his wife. Winter's diamond deal goes sour and he kills the diamond seller. He then tries to kill Bomba to prevent him from taking him back to face the authorities but local police arrive in time to help the jungle boymake the capture.
||12. LORD OF THE JUNGLE (1955 - 69 minutes)
Wayne Morris. Nancy Hale. Paul Picerni. William Phipps. Smoki Whitfield. Leonard Mudie. James Adamson.
Final entry in the series. Bomba must locate a rogue elephant before a stubborn group of government agents slaughter the entire herd. Commissioner Barnes sides with the agents but his visiting niece helps Bomba. After Bomba rescues one of the agents he is tied up to prevent further interference. But the elephants stampede the hut in which he is bound and a native and his son are been killed. To ensure that the hunters will not kill all the elephants, Bomba steals their weapons at night, then arranges to meet with Barnes the next day to offer him the chance to kill the one rogue. Barnes dispatches the rogue and the other elephants are peaceful. Bomba has proved his point and the herd has been rescued.
BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY
Hollywood Reporter - February 23, 1949
Walter Mirisch's sepiatone production, "Bomba, the Jungle Boy," has been put together with rare care and the result is an action natural as well as the beginning of what could well prove to be a highly popular series. Some excellent stock shots skillfully combined with a properly simple jungle story in the Monogram release have brought forth a sure-fire exploitation winner. "Bomba" is of certain appeal to the kids, and likely to be satisfactory to the hordes of jungle-fascinated adults. Johnny Sheffield, who once winningly portrayed the adopted offspring of Tarzan and Jane, is now a very well-built 185-pound teen-ager, still with the same charm he had when romping around at Tarzan's heels, and a very good anchor for a new jungle series.
Sheffield, a white boy who has grown up in the jungle, saves Peggy Ann Garner, when a leopard kills her gun-bearer. He builds her a bed for the night, but when he attempts to inform her father, on safari for unusual photographic shots, that she is safe, the nervous Onslow Stevens wounds him. The youth refuses to return Peggy to camp, but proceeds to show her some of the pleasures and serenity of the jungle. Reluctantly Peggy realizes she must return to civilization. In the climax, Sheffield saves the safari from the angered lion-worshipping natives. The safari returns to "civilization" and Bomba returns to the jungle. Sheffield's English is only slightly better than Tarzan's but his features are less immobile and consequently his monosyllables are easier to take. Miss Garner plays her role with pleasant self-assurance and naturalness. Charles Irwin does well by the Scotch professor turned to Africa for peace, and Onslow Stevens is fine as the unsympathetic father. Smoki Whitfield and Martin Wilkins are the guides.
The process shots of African wildlife, particularly the leaping antelopes, the monkeys and flamingos and the lion hunt are superb, and deftly combined with the film's plot. Ford Beebe's direction keeps the pace appropriately leisurely, but always interest-holding. William Sickner's photography blends well, and credit belongs to art director Theobold Holsopple and editor Roy Livingston.
BANTU, THE ZEBRA BOY - TV PILOT EPISODE (1955? - 25 minutes)
BOMBA TV PILOT
Milton Wood. Robert DeCoy. Al Freeman. Lane Bradford. Roy Glenn. George Spelvin.
When the Bomba series ended, an unsold television pilot was produced, directed and created by Reginald Sheffield (John's father). Bantu's major animal ally in this film is a zebra named Zulu. The entire show was shot out of doors at various locations in and around Los Angeles. Bantu must rescue a friendly native chief and his son from a greedy white hunter and his treacherous witch-doctor compatriots. The croc fight in the show was edited by John's father. Interestingly there was a bracelet gimmick that was probably included for its marketing potential.: Bantu turnsthe bracelet over to begin a good deed, and turns it back when the good deed is performed.
Johnny Sheffield, son of British character actor Reginald Sheffield, was born in Pasadena, CA, on April 11, 1931. His father encouraged a career in acting and by age seven he was appearing on the legitimate stage in Los Angeles and New York. He appeared on Broadway in the original cast of "On Borrowed Time" In 1939, he was picked by Johnny Weissmuller from among 300 child actors at a casting call for the role of "Boy" in the Tarzan films. Athletic by nature, he was taught to swim by swimming olympian Weissmuller. He went on to star in eight of the Weissmuller Tarzan films. When he grew too big for the part of "Boy" he was picked up by Monogram Studios to star in the Bomba series of twelve films from 1949 through 1955. After retiring from acting he sank his film earnings into very profitable real estate and enrolled as a pre-med student at UCLA. He now lives in happy retirement, overseeing his numerous real estate holdings.
"Zim Bomba" (1962) TV Series of 13 episodes
JOHNNY SHEFFIELD FILMOGRAPHY
Ref: Brian's Drive-In and Internet Movie Data Base
Bantu, The Zebra Boy (1955) Unaired TV Pilot Episode
Lord of the Jungle (1955) with Juanita Moore
The Golden Idol (1954) with Roy Glenn
Killer Leopard (1954) with Beverly Garland and Russ Conway
Safari Drums (1953) with Russ Conway
Bomba and the Jungle Girl (1952) with Karen Sharpe
African Treasure (1952) with Lyle Talbot and Woody Strode
Bomba and the Elephant Stampede (1951) with Myron Healey
The Lion Hunters (1951) with Woody Strode
Bomba and the Hidden City (1950)
The Lost Volcano (1950) with Marjorie Lord
Bomba on Panther Island (1949)
Bomba, the Jungle Boy (1949) with Peggy Ann Garner
The Sun Comes Up (1949) (uncredited role as a music lover)
Tarzan and the Huntress (1947) with Johnny Weissmuller
Tarzan and the Leopard Woman (1946) with Johnny Weissmuller and Acquanetta
Tarzan and the Amazons (1945) with Johnny Weissmuller
Roughly Speaking (1945)
The Great Moment (1944)
The Man in the Half Moon Street (1944)
Tarzan Triumphs (1943) with Johnny Weissmuller and Frances Gifford
Tarzan's Desert Mystery (1943) with Johnny Weissmuller
Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942) with Johnny Weissmuller
Million Dollar Baby (1941) with Priscilla Lane and Ronald Reagan
Tarzan's Secret Treasure (1941) with Johnny Weissmuller
Little Orvie (1940)
Knute Rockne, All American (1940) with Pat O'Brien and Ronald Reagan
Lucky Cisco Kid (1940) with Mary Beth Hughes, Cesar Romero, and Dana Andrews
Babes in Arms (1939) with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland
Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939) with Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O'Sullivan, and Laraine Day
Lobby Card From Little Orvie
BOMBA JUNGLE GALLERY
The Original Cupples & Leon Editions
View cover art from Swedish editions at Ulf Haase's Bomba site
A Series Analysis Noting Similarities to Tarzan
LINKS TO BOMBA ON THE WEB
Read Roy Rockwood (Howard Garis) Books Online:
Dave Dashaway and His Hydroplane: or, Daring Adventures Over The Great Lakes
Five Thousand Miles Underground, or, The Mystery of the Centre of the Earth
On a Torn-Away World, or, The Captives of the Great Earthquake
Through Space to Mars, or, The Longest Journey on Record
Note: The ERBzine links are all
but off-site links are notorious for becoming defunct
and most of these refs were compiled in 2010.
Suggested more-relevant links are welcomed.
THE BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY SERIES
Cover art from Swedish editions at Ulf Haase's Bomba site
Bomba Fan Reviews
Collecting Roy Rockwood
Violet Books: Bomba
Bomba Dust Jacket Comparison
Matt's Bomba Movie Guide
Bomba Speaks: Johnny Sheffield Interview
Museum of Weird Books
Johnny Sheffield at Brian's Drive-In
Bomba Synopses and Reviews
Johnny Weissmuller Bio
Classic Movie Kids
Johnny Sheffield and the Mike Conran Collection 2000
Click for full-size Preview Collage
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