Official Edgar Rice Burroughs Tribute and Weekly Webzine Site
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Volume 0276

By Edgar Rice Burroughs
(writing in the third person)
March 1938
St. John Golden Lion
Tar’zan, n. The hero of a series of stories of adventure by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
He is a white man of prodigious strength and Chivalrous instincts, reared by African apes.—
Tar’zan-ish, adj.
~~ Webster’s New International Dictionary
Perhaps you didn’t know that this chest-thumping, bellowing ape man, swinging from limb to limb through twenty volumes of African adventure, has added a new word to the American language. And that two U.S. post offices have been named for him – one in Tarzan, Texas, and one in Tarzana, California. And that he is the basis for a phenomenal business corporation with ramifications all over the world. Conceived one sleepless, sultry, summer night in Chicago by Edgar Rice Burroughs, then a struggling author, he has now become a legend. The first Tarzan story (Tarzan of the Apes), written as a serial in 1912 was rejected by almost every book publisher in the U.S., until it was finally published two years later by A. C. McClurg & Co., and rocketed to a peak of over 3,000,000 copies. Forty-Seven novels by Author Burroughs have followed it --- representing an estimated sale of 25,000,000 books and including best sellers in eighteen languages.

On the flood tide of his royalties from Tarzan of the Apes, Author Burroughs moved west and purchased a ranch, which he named “Tarzana,” about fifteen miles from Hollywood. Thereafter, as one best seller followed another, he became increasingly involved with the byproducts that sprouted from these successes – magazine rights, newspaper-serial rights, foreign book rights, dramatic rights, radio rights, comic strip rights, and merchandise rights. To protect and handle these properties Author Burroughs formed a corporation in 1923, consisting of himself as President, Son Hulbert and shrewd publishing associate, C. R. Rothmund, as Directors. It seemed a pity to have to split royalties with any publisher of the seventy-five-cent reprint editions of his books, all of which were still in print and selling in enormous quantities. Therefore Mr. Burroughs decided to publish the original $2 editions himself, with the result that two new Burroughs novels are now issued by the corporation each year.

And then there are the movies. In 1936 the Burroughs corporation contracted with Independent Producer Sol Lessor to make five Tarzan pictures during the ensuing five years. There had been thirteen already – some of them, according to Mr. Burroughs, pretty terrible. But they all made money, with an estimated total gross of over $20,000,000. The first Tarzan was Elmo K. Lincoln, in the old silent days; by far the most successful was lank-haired Johnny Weissmuller; the most recent was newly discovered He-man Glenn Morris in the first of the Sol Lessor pictures. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has made the best three pictures to date, at a cost of about $1,000,000 each. Each took from one to two years to complete, required six hundred people and a menagerie of wild animals.

Tarzan has found another prodigious audience on the air. Mr. Burroughs has contracted with an independent radio producer to furnish a series of Tarzan records based on the original stories. Three programs, consisting of 364 fifteen-minute episodes, have already been recorded and sold to sponsors and stations all over the country, to the accompaniment of a terrific ballyhoo. Approximately 1,000,000 Tarzan statuettes have been given away as premiums to sponsors. More than 50,000,000 Tarzan ice-cream cups and 75,000,000 loaves of Tarzan Bread have been sold on a royalty basis. Indeed, the merchandising plan attached to the tradename of Tarzan is one of the most phenomenal by-products of the whole business. There are Tarzan schoolbags, penknives, sweaters, masks, paint books, candies, chewing gums, toys, jungle costumes. And all of them pay royalties to Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.

Lastly, there are the Tarzan comic strips – the daily strip and the Sunday full page in color – one of the most popular of all the features syndicated by the United Features Syndicate, Inc. Many newspapers fold their Sunday editions with Tarzan on the outside, as a circulation booster. These features boast a total sale to 291 newspapers with an aggregate A.B.C. circulation of 15,672,000 exclusive newspapers in twenty-eight foreign countries.

BUT the Burroughs corporation doesn’t depend entirely upon Tarzan for its subsistence. There are real-estate investments, for instance, that have a present valuation of well over a million dollars. The former Tarzana Ranch has been sub-divided into lots and has become the thriving township of Tarzana. The office building of the corporation is still located there, but Mr. Burroughs lives at Malibu among the film people. Here he does much of his writing, rides horseback, plays tennis, and indulges in private flying, which he took up at the age of fifty-eight. He admits that some of his stories are not so hot but reminds you pertinently that they sell – an argument that admits of no rebuttal.

All-Story Pulp Magazine - First Appearance of Tarzan of the ApesTarzan of the Apes - A.C. McClurg First Edition Dust JacketERB and Sol LessorERB and Dempsey Tabler Battle on Son of Tarzan Set
Elmo Lincoln Kills a Lion on SetJohnny WeissmullerERB and  Glenn Morris: Tarzan's Revenge
Tarzan on the Air Promotional BookletRadio ET LabelFoulds Tarzan StatuetteTarzan Mask
Elmo Lincoln ButtonTarzan Ice Cream Cups Promotional BannerSignal Oil Tarzan Club Button
Tarzan Sunday Page 1933 - Winnipeg TribuneERB the Pilot

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