First and Only Weekly Online Fanzine Devoted to the Life & Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Since 1996 ~ Over 10,000 Web Pages in Archive
Volume 2874

Tarzan: Lord of the Louisiana Jungle
Q & A
Questions posed by Al Bohl
Answers supplied by
Bill Hillman
(Unreleased work in progress)
Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
Central Time Zone


What does the word Tarzan mean?

According to ERB’s Mangani/English Dictionary:
Tar: white
Zan: skin
BTW: One of the first names that ERB came up with for his jungle hero was ZAN TAR

A white man is called a TARMANGANI
(white ape)
A black man is call a GOMANGANI
(black ape)

ERB invented the mangani or ape language and sprinkled the words throughout his Tarzan novels.
In the late ‘30s he formed a young peoples club – THE TARZAN CLAN
- based somewhat on the Boy Scout movement.

Is it fair to say that Tarzan is the first “superhero” of the 20th Century?

This is probably fair. . . depending upon your definition of superhero.
He was also the inspiration for a multitude of imitators.
Bomba, Ki-Gor, Ka-Zar, Shanna - She-Devil, Jongor, George of the Jungle, Jan of the Jungle, Conan, The Shadow, The Phantom, Sheena, Superman, Batman, the Marvel Family, Flash Gordon, etc.

The inspiration for Tarzan was ERB's first hero - John Carter of Mars. . . and of course these two heroes set the mould for a multitude of pulp, comics, radio, TV, film, etc. heroes to come.
The original version of Superman did not fly. Like John Carter he was an alien with muscles better developed and was able to leap great heights as did John Carter on Mars.
Even the Star Wars films were inspired by the ERB heroes.
African fiction, documents by African explorers as well as experiences of real-life feral children may have been some inspiration for the creation of ERB's jungle hero.

One big difference is that ERB's two heroes did not rely upon "super" powers or supernatural qualities as many of the others superheroes such as Superman, Captain Marvel and The Shadow evolved into.

How many books did Burroughs write about Tarzan?
Full publishing info, cover and interior art, references, links, and trivia are all featured there.
Difficult to make an accurate account because unpublished and unfinished novels and short stories were published after his death.
The number is at least 25

How many people have played Tarzan in movies or TV?

Difficult to determine but some number over 30
A good reference for ERB/Tarzan films is the ERBzine Silver Screen site:

Actors portraying Tarzan - in the authorized productions. . . there were numerous other actors in unauthorized films done around the world.
    * Gordon Griffith 1918 (young Tarzan)
    * Elmo Lincoln 1918, 1918, 1921
    * Gene Pollar 1920
    * P. Dempsey Tabler 1920
    * James Pierce 1927
    * Frank Merrill 1928, 1929
    * Johnny Weissmuller 1932, 1934, 1936, 1939, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1943, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948
    * Buster Crabbe 1933
    * Herman Brix later billed as Bruce Bennett 1935, 1938
    * Glenn Morris 1938
    * Lex Barker 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953
    * Clint Walker 1954 (uncredited, in "Jungle Gents," a Bowery Boys movie)
    * Gordon Scott 1955, 1957, 1958, 1958, 1959, 1960
    * Denny Miller 1959
    * Jock Mahoney 1962, 1963
    * Ron Ely 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970
    * Mike Henry 1966, 1967, 1968
    * Miles O'Keeffe 1981
    * Christophe Lambert 1984
    * Casper Van Dien 1998
    * Tony Goldwyn 1999 (voice of animated Tarzan)
    * Alex D. Linz 1999 (voice of young animated Tarzan)

    * James Pierce 1932-1934
    * Carlton KaDell 1934-1936
    * Lamont Johnson 1950-1951

    * Gordon Scott 1958
    * Ron Ely 1966
    * Robert Ridgely 1976 (voice, Filmation animated series ~ Danton Burroughs did the Tarzan yell in this series)
    * Joe Lara 1989
    * Wolf Larson 1991
    * Travis Fimmel 2003

    * Josh Strickland 2006-2007
    * Ron Link 2007-2009 in the Dutch production
    * Anton Zetterhom 2008. . .

How many movies, TV shows, plays about the Tarzan?

The number of Tarzan films is hard to determine because there have been quite a number of titles that first appeared as serials and were re-edited as feature films. Also a number of the TV shows were re-edited for release as feature films. There were also a variety of animated releases. . . some of which were direct to DVD. IMDB lists 89 movies with Tarzan in the title between 1918 and 2008.
There also have been many unauthorized Tarzan films worldwide. . . some with thinly disguised "Tarzan" names - Zan, etc.
most of which have faced legal battles with ERB, Inc. over copyright and or trademark infringement.

As for movies being made about one central character, where does Tarzan rank?

The count gets complicated. . . but certainly in the top 5.

What different kinds of merchandise and media did Tarzan generate and continue to inspire?

Countless thousands of items and still growing:
comic books
radio shows,
television programs,
Tarzan toys, (see the Collectibles section in the Comics Encyclopedia)
Tarzan gasoline and a multitude of licensed advertising campaigns for various other products including Cialis
Tarzan underwear, Tarzan ice cream, records, lunch boxes, running shoes, trading cards, radio & cereal premiums, action figures, gym equipment, view master reels, glue, puzzles, clothes, credit cards, lighters, posters, pins, Disney memorabilia, T-shirts, cups & mugs, key chains, cigar bands, computer games ~ the list is virtually endless.

What is the
ERBzine is the largest ERB tribute site on the Internet. It is designed, edited, hosted, etc. by Bill Hillman
a semi-retired university professor and musician from Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.

A weekly Webzine/fanzine appears at the site, which features 10-20 new distinct Webpages each week.
These features are displayed in archive
This massive site is the largest single tribute site I know of dedicated to a single author's life and works.
The entire site may be searched by inserting appropriate keywords in the internal Google search engine displayed on the opening and archive pages.

About 10 years ago Danton Burroughs of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. in Tarzana, California discovered the work I was doing on the ERBzine Tribute site and enlisted me to create and maintain the official ERB, Inc. Websites which now include:
In addition to the ERBzine weekly fanzine I also publish two weekly and one monthly zine at the Danton, JCB and Tarzan sites.

Are there many websites and conventions dealing with Edgar Rice Burroughs and his character Tarzan?

ERBzine has been active since 1996 but many ERB Web sites come and go. . . one of the most established sites is Bruce Bozarth's ERBlist which specializes in fan fiction. ERBlist also maintains the most active ERB Listserv on the Web. Other active listservs/groups include ERBCOFlist, Barsoom, and many others that specialize in a variety of topics. Contact information for many of the current listservs and fanzines is featured at the Burroughs Bibliophiles site.
Recently the Internet has seen the growth of many blog sites and podcasts that feature material of interest to ERB fans. There are also numerous local chapters of ERB fandom: LA SubERBs, Washington DC Pan

There are often spin-off meets at the various science fiction/comics/pulp magazine conventions around the world.
The two official annual ERB conventions are ECOF and the Dum-Dum
The doings of both conventions are reported at:
The Dum-Dum the largest and is hosted by the Burroughs Bibliophiles.
I also maintain and host the Burroughs Bibliophiles Web site at:

The Official publication of the Burroughs Bibliophiles is the Burroughs Bulletin which is issued to Bibliophile members four times a year. It is a large attractive glossy publication edited by George McWhorter, curator of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Memorial Collection at the Ekstrom Library - Rare Books in the University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky.

George also issues a monthly newsletter - The Gridley Wave - which I release online a month after the print release.
Mr. McWhorter also sends content information for each month's Bulletin release which I adapt to an online data base which makes searches of back issues easier.


List the different jobs Burroughs had before deciding to write books.

Refer to the ERB Bio Timeline
Also the various authorized biographies at:

1891-95:  Student, Michigan Military Academy, Orchard Lake, Michigan.
            During summers he worked on his brothers' ranch in Idaho as a cowhand, mail carrier, miner, etc.
1895-96:  Assistant Commandant, Tactical Officer and Cavalry instructor, Orchard Lake.
1896-97:  Private, 7th U.S. Cavalry, Fort Grant, Arizona. Discharged by favor.
1898-99:   Retail book and stationery business, Pocatallo, Idaho.
1899-1902:  Treasurer, American Battery Co., Chicago.
1903-04  Gold mining in the Sweetser-Burroughs operation in Idaho and Oregon.
1904-1905:  Railway Policeman, Salt Lake City, Utah.
1904 to 1908 Temporary jobs included time-keeper ~ light bulb, pencil sharperner and candy sales ~ peddling Stoddard's lectures, Alcola, etc.
1905-1906:  "Expert Accountant," T.J. Winslow Co., Chicago.
1906-1908:  Stenographic Department, Sears, Roebuck Co., Chicago.
1908:  Sales Agency Business, Chicago - including many door-to-door sales jobs
1908-1909:  Magazine ad buyer for Physicians' Co-Operative Association, Chicago.
1909-1911:  Secretary-treasurer, Stace, Burroughs & Co., Chicago
1911:  Secretary and advertising manager, Champlin-Yardley Co., Chicago

Who was the Apache Kid?

See the Apache novels by ERB - Influences
While serving in the U.S. Cavalry at Fort Grant in the Arizona desert, and ERB's mission, as he put it, was to "chase the Apaches." "I chased a good many Apaches. But fortunately for me, I never caught up with any of them."

On May 24, 1896: New recruit, Ed Burroughs,  arrived at Fort Grant, Arizona Territory to join Troop B, 7th U.S. Cavalry. The "Bloody Seventh" had seen action at the Little Bighorn, Wounded Knee and the Chicago Pullman strike. This was the start of many adventures, including a search for the Apache Kid,  separated by long periods of  boredom. He had expected to spend most of his time chasing Apaches but much of his time was spent on guard duty and digging ditches. He passed much of his time sketching and soaking up knowledge about the geography and history of the area.

"There was always a lot of excitement at Fort Grant. The Apaches were coralled at a post not far distant and there were constant rumors of an uprising similar to those led by old Geronimo. The Apache Kid and his band of renegades were giving trouble in the south and Black Jack, the famous bandit, was raiding towns in our vicinity." ~ ERB quote from a 1949 article:

On August 29, 1896, after being hospitalized for two weeks and still suffering from dysentery and having been diagnosed with a "tobacco heart" condition, ERB rode out with Troop B in pursuit of the Apache Kid and other renegade Apaches.

Is Burroughs really the father or grandfather of “science fiction?”

A better term might be the one we use on our Websites:
"Master of Adventure and the Grandfather of American Science Fiction"
ERB set the mold and template for generations of writers to come. . . before such fiction was popularized by American writers.
Previously, France's Jules Verne and England's H.G. Wells did excellent work in this area, but ERB's style proved to be more accessible and exciting to general audiences.

Define science fiction. Difference in science fiction and science fantasy.

'Science fiction is a genre of fiction. It differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically-established or scientifically-postulated laws of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation). Exploring the consequences of such differences is the traditional purpose of science fiction, making it a "literature of ideas". [1] Science fiction is largely based on writing entertainingly and rationally about alternate possibilities [2] in settings that are contrary to known reality." ~ Wikipedia

ERB has been criticized for being long on fantasy and displaying little emphasis on actual science. I dispute this and have listed the many scientific inventions and prophecies that he put into his novels. An examination of this list will show that much of the "fantasy" science that he wrote about has come true.
Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Prophet: Predictions and Images of Future Innovations and Inventions.
Compiled by Bill Hillman
Part I: The Mars Series

Part II: The Venus Series
The Fantastic Inventions and Prophesies  Gleaned from the Novels of  Edgar Rice Burroughs

What stories served to inspiration to create Tarzan? shipwrecked sailor or woman story, Romulus and Remus, Kipling’s Jungle Book?

There are a multitude of possible influences as we have explored in the series:
The Ape-Man: his Kith and Kin
I have reprinted scores of stories and line drawings having to do with the Dark Continent, apes and feral children. This was a major university research project that I worked on with Dr. Georges Dodds of McGill University.
Selected 19thCentury Simian Fiction (1830-1914)

The books most likely used by ERB in his research before he brought Tarzan of the Apes to life:
Heroes of the Dark Continent by J.W. Buel (1889)
How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa by Henry Morton Stanley  Although this was not a work of fiction, the historic events leading up to his meeting of the great Victorian explorer, Livingstone, seemed almost fantastic. Stanley followed this book with Through the Dark Continent. See the ERB Personal Library section:
Explorations and Adventures in Equatorial Africa (1861) by Paul Du Chaillu

The African adventure stories of H. Rider Haggard, including King Solomon's Mines were also most likely an influence.

A major influence that has been overlooked was General Charles King who served as commandant at the Michigan Military Academy while ERB was a cadet at that institution. King was a best-selling writer of adventure stories documenting wild west adventures of the US military and the Indian Wars.
See the ERB/King Connection

In ERB's own words from the 1932 article: The Tarzan Theme
"I recall that when I wrote the first Tarzan story twenty years ago, I was mainly interested in playing with the idea of a contest between heredity and environment. For this purpose I selected an infant child of a race strongly marked by hereditary characteristics of the finer and nobler sort; and at an age at which he could not have been influenced by association with creatures of his own kind. I threw him into an environment as diametrically opposite that to which he had been born as I might well conceive. . . ."

What format was the story of Tarzan first printed in 1912? 1912 – 2012 marks 100 years in print.

Tarzan of the Apes was printed in its entirety in All-Story Magazine: October 1912.
This was a popular pulp magazine that usually serialized adventure stories, but due to the popularity of ERB's first story: Under the Moons of Mars (A Princess of Mars) in that magazine -- and because of the unique nature of this story -- they featured the entire novel in one issue.
The cover painting was by Clinton Pettee and Fred W. Small did the interior b/w title headpiece

See the personal correspondence between ERB and All-Story editor, Thomas Metcalf at:

What did it take to find a book publisher?

ERB kept serial rights to the Tarzan story and had good success in serializing it in newspapers across the country.
Despite all this popularity the story was turned down by many publishers.
Finally it was accepted by the Chicago publisher A. C. McClurg who published it in a first edition hardcover in 1914.
They went on to publish ERB's stories until the late '20s when, after dabbling with other publishers, he incorporated himself and eventually published his books through Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.
Until that time A.L. Burt and Grosset and Dunlap published the reprints.

How much was Burroughs paid for the Tarzan story?
Ed received $700 June 26, 1912. For the time this was a significant amount of money for a newbie author.
This provided a great boost in confidence and finance for ERB since the Burroughs family was living at a near-poverty level. Although his first novel was a success, his follow-up story -- The Outlaw of Torn -- was rejected.

What animal in the story is not indigenous to Africa?
ERB came under considerable flack for placing "tigers" in Africa. He came by this mistake honestly. Since he had never been to Africa his knowledge of the Dark Continent came through his library research. At that time the Boers in Africa call all large cats, tigers. ERB corrected his mistake in the book edition. Sabor, the mangani name he had used to identify the tiger, became the name for a lioness. The male lion was numa.

2009 Dum-Dum host, Richard Spargur, published a book in which he did a line-by-line comparison between the pulp and hardcover versions of Tarzan of the Apes.

What was Burroughs’ interest in Darwin and eugenics?

ERB had worked as a geology professor at the Michigan Military Academy and as such had a scientific background. He was also a free thinker, who was very skeptical of organized religions and the thousands of deities that man has invented through the ages.
Survival of the fittest and natural selection were a vital part of his description of wildlife and survival. He used evolution themes in many novels. . .most notably The Land That Time Forgot, where all stages of evolution were in evidence across different parts of the lost island of Caprona.
Biblio entry:
Eugenics was a popular theory of the day. . . but ERB didn't take it much past the explanation of Tarzan's inherited noble character which allowed him to raise above an animal level even though he was raised by "apes."  See the quote above (repeated here)
"I recall that when I wrote the first Tarzan story twenty years ago, I was mainly interested in playing with the idea of a contest between heredity and environment. For this purpose I selected an infant child of a race strongly marked by hereditary characteristics of the finer and nobler sort; and at an age at which he could not have been influenced by association with creatures of his own kind. I threw him into an environment as diametrically opposite that to which he had been born as I might well conceive. . . ."

He was strongly critical of Hitler and the Nazi's idea of "the master race". . . and wrote a biting satire of these concepts in the Venus novel, Carson of Venus.
His description of the "Zanis" is a biting satire of Hitler's Nazis that would plunge the world into global conflict a few years later.
Unfortunately dull or malicious critics of ERB have taken this satire at face value and have accused him of being a racist.

What were the major differences between the first printing in the All Story magazine and the book version released in 1914?

There were, basically, only minor changes between the two scripts. ERB often allowed magazine editors to make changes and overrule certain elements in his scripts. But he always had final say in the book editions. . . often reinserting material that had been cut out by the magazine editors, and very often expanding the word count to fill out the story.

The changes to the book script were modest - mainly the removal of hyphenated adjectives and other words, alternate spellings and punctuation, slight grammatical revisions, added words and sentences for clarity, as well as different or more adverbs and adjectives. In ERB's handwritten manuscript, Lord Greystoke was originally Lord Bloomstoke.

2009 Dum-Dum host, Richard Spargur, published a book in which he did a line-by-line comparison between the pulp and hardcover versions of Tarzan of the Apes.

Why did ERB incorporate?

On March 2, 1923 Ed incorporated himself as Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. to cut down on taxes, to gain more control over his work and to provide security for his family. All literary rights were turned over to the company and shares were distributed among the family. Ed drew a salary for the rest of his life.
On July 14, 1927 ERB started the move of offices to the new store and three-office complex on Ventura Boulevard (the present ERB, Inc. offices). The new office was fully occupied by the next day. The building is of old Spanish farm type architecture and is almost completely hidden by a  black walnut tree.

Was Tarzan the first movie made based on a character or book written by Burroughs? 

The Lad and the Lion (1917) was the first film made of a Burroughs story and the Selig Polyscope Company paid ERB $100 per reel for this five-reeler. Despite his considerable efforts to get film companies interested in his stories, this was the only success he had until Tarzan of the Apes was filmed the next year. The Lad and the Lion had the distinction of having its premiere (May 14, 1917) coincide with the print release of the story in All-Story Weekly. The film story was loosely remade in 1937 under the title The Lion Man.

What was ERB paid for the rights to make Tarzan of the Apes? Was he a producer?

Burroughs sold the film rights for Tarzan of the Apes to the National Film Corporation on June 6, 1916. He received a record $5,000 cash advance on royalties, $50,000 in company stock and five percent of gross receipts.
Although ERB had input in many areas in the film he did not have a production credit. The producer was William Parsons and director was Scott Sidney.

What did ERB think about the movie industry in general?

ERB tried to crack the movie industry for two years before hitting it big with the Tarzan film.
Some of the film ideas or treatments he submitted were "The Lion Hunter," (a five-page comedy), "The Mucker," "His Majesty, The Janitor," "The Prospector", a synopsis expansion of "For the Fool's Mother," etc.
On December 2, 1917 Ed, dissatisfied with the motion picture industry and the progress made on adapting his writings, dumps his 10,000 shares of capital stock. Throughout his life, while usually putting a positive spin on his feelings about the industry for the media, privately expressed many frustrations and feelings of disappointment in the Hollywood version of his Tarzan.

What did he think of this first film?

Tarzan of the Apes was one of the first motion pictures to gross more than a million dollars. Whatever critical thoughts he had on this film at the time were largely hidden since it was such a great money maker and made possible his dream of moving to Southern California and buying a ranch in the San Fernando Valley. Later he expressed some disappointment in the choice of beefy Elmo Lincoln as Tarzan, since he had described the jungle hero as being far more lithe and athletic.

It was reported that 60 ape suits were made from specifications supplied by Darwinian students and Tarzan of the Apes location teams travelled to Manaos, Brazil - Iquitos, Peru - Banff, Canada and  Louisiana. Gathered at the shooting locations were native huts, 1100 native extras, 40 aerial acrobats, four lions, six tigers, several elephants, and 18 apes.  He had to have been impressed and must have felt pride that so much planning and effort were being put into the adaptation of his novel. Ed's dissatisfaction and threatened legal actions over the business dealings with the movie company were assuaged somewhat by substantial royalties and cash advances. Much later after years of frustration he eventually formed his own production company.

Did ERB visit the set and location in Morgan City?

Not to my knowledge.

Did Burroughs use the money earned from the first Tarzan film and spike in sales for the book as a result of the film’s success to purchase the Tarzana Ranch from the estate of General Harrison Gray Otis, founder and publisher of the LA Times newspaper and a crony in the water scheme made famous in Chinatown movie?



Were the apes of Tarzan novel gorillas or chimpanzees or a missing link?

Tarzan's "apes" or mangani were neither gorillas as they were depicted in the Disney movies, nor smaller chimps such as Cheetah. They were actually a sort of advanced simian species that could be placed somewhere between modern man and primitive anthropoids. They were human-like in many ways and even had a primitive language.

Do the special apes in the book cause the novel to be classified as science fiction or science fantasy?

Ninety-nine per cent of species that ever lived on earth are now extinct. It is within the realm of possibility that being such as the mangani could have once existed and did not survive evolution. With this in mind I would classify the novel as science fiction.

What was a Dum-Dum ceremony?

The dum-dum is a ritual gathering and celebratory dance ceremony held by Tarzan's tribe of "apes" or mangani. The name dum comes from the mangani name for drum. . . and the ceremony involves some members of the tribe beating of an earthen mound (drum) while others leap and dance around while shouting their ape cries skyward . . . often at the moon.

How did the Dum-Dum 2009 convention get started and who attends?

The name Dum-Dum has been adopted by the Burroughs Bibliophiles as the official name of their annual convention, attended by Bibliophile members and other devoted ERB fans, media and merchandise hawkers.


Why was Morgan City selected to make Tarzan of the Apes?

Louisiana was chosen as the main shooting location because of the cooperation of the residents of Morgan City, the lush jungle vegetation, bayous, waterways, abundant black extras, and facilities such as hotels, a railway-serviced wharf and an adjacent storage warehouse.

How much of the film was shot in Morgan City?
Most of the location jungle and swamp scenes.

How long did it take to make the entire movie?
Louisiana filming took place during August and September 1917.

How many African-Americans were used in the film and what were their parts?
Over 300 local Louisiana negroes were hired as cannibal extras for $1.75 a day.

Was Tarzan the first big budget feature film to use all blacks to play blacks?

How many animals were taken to Morgan City?

New York Times, February 3, 1918 after film release said four lions, six tigers, several elephants, 18 apes. Irwin Porges page 273.
Gathered at the shooting locations were native huts, 1100 native extras, 40 aerial acrobats, four lions, six tigers, several elephants, and 18 apes.

Were the apes released and still live in the Louisiana swamps?
Not to my knowledge.

How hard was it making the movie in Morgan City on the health of the crew and how hard was it to do the shoot?
During the many weeks that Lincoln posed before the camera, he became so deeply tanned from contact with the sunlight that when studio work was occasionally required of him, he was obliged to paint his face and arms white in order to keep from registering as pronounced a brunette as the real descendants of Africa who supported him in the cast.

Who played apes in the film? 

Sets, costumes and equipment were sent from Los Angeles by rail car. Additional ape costumes were made in Morgan City. Twenty young men from the New Orleans Athletic Club were hired to augment the team of circus acrobats"apes" brought from California.

Describe the ape costumes, where they were made and the difficulty of their use.
The ape players were costumed in goat skins and elaborate masks  Perhaps foolishly there were a number of closeups shown which killed the illusion somewhat. The costumes were designed to the specifications recommended by Darwin students.

Ref: ERBzine Silver Screen at:

Is the film close to the novel?

The film is probably as close to the novel as any Tarzan movie later filmed.

Who was Smilin’ Bill Parsons?

Parsons a multi-talented performer who produced Tarzan of the Apes and The Romance of Tarzan for the  National Film Corporation of America.
He was married to popular silent screen actress Billie Rhodes.
He died soon of a diabetic coma soon after completing the two Tarzan films.
He seemed to be always just one step of the creditors during the films' production. He and ERB had numerous legal battles over royalty payments.

What are the biggest differences between the novel and the film?

The film covered the first half of the novel and introduced the character Binns which twisted the plot a bit.

Who is the Binns character? Was he in the book? How did his character change the story in the film from the story in the book?

Binns was not in the original book.
Binns, the sailor who saved the Claytons and who has been held by Arab slavers for ten years, finds the young Tarzan and then heads for England to notify his kin.

In the book, Tarzan doesn’t swing on vines, but he does in the first film. Is this the point in the development of the character where swinging on vines originated?

Yes. Vine swinging was originated by the athletic Stellan Windrow and Frank Merrill for the movies. It later became an important part of the popular Weissmuller films.

Where was the last portion of the film shot after Morgan City?

Griffith Park, Los Angeles, California, USA  ~ Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil  ~ San Pedro, California, USA (schooner scenes) ~ Selig Zoo, California, USA ~ Topanga Canyon, California, USA

Did Elmo Lincoln kill the lion on camera? What are the different accounts given of that experience?
Ref: ERBzine 0503 - 
Volume 0503
The legend is that in one scene a lion is supposed to crawl through the window of Tarzan's cabin to devour Jane. Tarzan grabs him and pulls him out. The
old and drugged lion turned on Elmo Lincoln who stabbed and killed him. "I stepped on him to beat my chest. As my foot pressed down on him, the
remaining air in his lungs escaped with a loud whoosh. I was already shaken and you should have seen me jump!" The lion supposedly wound up as a lobby
display when the picture opened on Broadway.

Elmo's Version as told to Burroughs Bibliophile founder, Vern Coriell (Source: My Father, Elmo Lincoln by Marci'a Lincoln)
"I and a couple of other fellows tested for the part and I got it. The other candidates for the part disappointed the producer by falling out of trees. I asked for $100.00 a week for Tarzan. They wanted to pay me $75.00 Maybe someone else started the picture. . . but one day I received a telegram okaying the hundred I'd asked for and that was it.

"The only animal we had in the whole picture was "Old Charlie," a lion, and I killed him. Other a nimal footage was added to the film when it was edited. The lion I killed was in a scene where the lion was trying to get into a cabin to devour Jane. The lion was doped and tied up. I was supposed to jump on his back and stab him with a knife, but they gave me an old butcher knife to use and the damned thing broke when I tried to stab it.

The next day the tough hided old cat was doped again and they did a retake. That's when I started using a bayonet that I had filed down. This time I was successful in getting through the lions hide with the bayonet. The next scene was to show Tarzan with his foot on the dead lion and pounding his chest as he yelled his victory cry. Then he was supposed to leap across the lion. This caused the dead animal to make a sound which sounded like a roar. I thought "Old Charley" was still alive. I set a new record for the broad jump trying to get away.

Note: Vern Coriell doubted the accuracy of this story until he asked Enid Markey about it and she substantiated the whole thing. Another report has it that Enid Markey, who continued to work in film and TV into the 1960s, had no recollection of the event and it is possible that Lincoln concocted the story at a later date when he had fallen on hard times.

Producer William Parsons said that in the scene where Elmo's Tarzan fought the lion, the tranquilizer used to drug it seemed only to make the feline ferocious, and he attacked Elmo for real, as the cameras were rolling. According to this tale, Elmo battled the beast for his very life, finally killing it with his prop knife, all the while the impromptu battle taking place before the camera and crew remarkably remaining within focus. Elmo, with his experience with Griffith as a professional actor, allegedly did not ruin the shot but stayed in character, planting his foot on the dead lion and giving out a savage cry after he had slain the maddened beast. The scene is in the movie, and the story made good copy for the fan magazines.

ERB's Version:
Elmo had some thrilling experiences in the filming of Tarzan, and one surprise that he probably will never forget. In one of the scenes, a lion was supposed to be crawling through the window of a hut to devour the beautiful leading lady. Elmo grasped the lion by the tail, pulled it from the window and leaped upon its back. The lion was then killed, and in the next shot Elmo was supposed to place his foot upon its carcass and give the victory cry of the bull ape. He did it all except the victory cry, for as he placed his foot upon the supposedly dead body, the lion voiced terrific roar. In telling what happened immediately thereafter, Elmo says that he is positive that he holds the unofficial standing broad jump record.
Edgar Rice Burroughs ~ Tarzan's Seven Lives ~
SCREEN PLAY Magazine ~ May 1934

How many versions of this first movie were there based on length and content?
The original length of the film was ten reels but later many of the English scenes were cut reducing the length to eight reels and much later approximately three reels more were cut for the video tape release.

What is a “digest version” of the film?
The "digest version" of the film is the that currently is making the rounds in video stores.

When and where did the original film premier?
The film premier was at New York's Broadway Theatre on January 27, 1918 and its run was held over to April 2, 1918.

How was the film promoted in the lobby of the Broadway Theatre in New York?
The premier was ballyhooed with hundreds of posters and ad sheets, as well as huge billboards and banners on Broadway. The theatre lobby was done up as a jungle decorated with hanging moss, large tree boughs, and  many stuffed animals, including the lion that Elmo had supposedly killed during production. Monkeys and apes swung through the faux foliage and theatre boxes while a 30-piece symphony orchestra provided a jungle-themed musical score. Similar displays were adopted by other theatres when the film opened nationwide.

The Broadway premier, organized by Harry Reichenbach, was one of the most successful openings in history. Newspaper reviews were glowing describing the film as a daring spectacle, educational, an unusually entertaining picture, the most thrilling picture ever shown, a production nothing short of marvelous, and the greatest film of the age. An estimated 5,000 people were turned away for the first showing.

How much were the ticket prices?
Evenings: 25 cents to $1.00 ~ Matinees: 25, 50 and 75 cents.
Projected cost for the film of $100,000 rose to an estimated $250,000. The film earned over $1.5 ~ one of the first six films to gross over one million dollars.

Ref: ERBzine Silver Screen at:

Is this film the first sequel for a feature film or was it “Fall of a Nation 1916? 

It was the first sequel film.
“Fall” was not a sequel. It had nothing to do with “Birth of a Nation” except cashing in the popularity of “Birth.”

Why did Parsons make the sequel?
Did Parson have to pay any more to Burroughs for the rights to make the film?
Parsons had bought the rights to "Tarzan of the Apes" but claimed that he had filmed only half of it.  He argued that since "Romance of Tarzan" was actually the second half of "Tarzan of the Apes" he wouldn't have to pay additional licencing fees. ERB fought its release until they paid him off with $2,500.

Was it as successful as the first film?
The sequel "Romance of Tarzan" just broke even while Tarzan of the Apes was one of the first films to gross one million dollars. The third Tarzan filme, "The Adventures of Tarzan" however, was a box office smash, ranking as the fourth biggest money-maker of 1921,

Is there a print in existence today?
No known print of "The Romance of Tarzan"exists today.

Was any of the Morgan City film footage in this film and did any of the Romance of Tarzan footage end up in the first film?
Some of the Tarzan of the Apes footage shot near Morgan City, LA was possibly used in the sequel.

The original All Story magazine version was called, “Tarzan of the Apes: A Romance of the Jungle.” Is this why the sequel film had the
word “romance” in the title?



Was Elmo a cop in Arkansas? Where did he come from?
Elmo Lincoln, born Elmo Linkenhelt, was an Arkansas peace officer when he went to work for D.W. Griffith who changed his name to Elmo Lincoln.
See the more complete biography at the My Father, Elmo Lincoln site in ERBzine 0283

Was Tarzan his first acting job?
Lincoln had an already established reputation as a Hollywood strong man due to his role as the Mighty Man of Valor in the 1916 DW Griffith classic "Intolerance." Lincoln was offered $75.00 a week for the role but held out for and received $100.00.

Was he Burroughs' first choice?
Elmo Lincoln was the second choice to star as Tarzan. He won the role when WWI broke out and and Windrow joined the navy.

Was he really afraid of heights?
Lincoln was stockier than Winslow and did not feel at ease in the trees. He had trouble doing the tree sequences so they kept the footage shot of Windrow.

Was Tarzan of the Apes the only time he played the character of Tarzan?

He starred in The Romance of Tarzan and The Adventures of Tarzan (1921). He also starred as an imitation Tarzan character in two Elmo movies: Elmo the Mighty and Elmo the Fearless. Elmo went on to play in a Rayart serial of 10 chapters in 1927 called 'King of the Jungle'. He played the elevator operator in Tarzan's New York Adventure and a fisherman in Tarzan's Magic Fountain.

What happened to the bloody knife that Elmo kept with the lion’s blood on it?


How many parts did he play in the film “Birth of a Nation?”
The Blacksmith (uncredited)

Was he good friends with D. W. Griffith?
Yes. He worked in a number of Griffith films starting with "The Battle of Elderbush Gulch" (1912) and including "Mighty Man of Valor" in the 1916 DW Griffith classic "Intolerance."


Where did he come from and what did he do after this film?
The earliest movie Tarzan was actually Gordon Griffith, a child star who began his career four years earlier in five Charles Chaplin one-reelers. After the initial Tarzan role he played the son of Tarzan, Huckleberry Finn, and a few more child parts. As an adult he joined Monogram as an assistant director and was affiliated with both Robert Sherwood Productions and Gregory Ratoff Productions as a director and associate producer. In 1941 he became production manager of Columbia Pictures. He also served as associate producer on RKO's "Never Wave at a Wac" and UA's "Monsoon".

Does Gordon hold the distinction of being nude on film the longest for a major motion picture?
As far as I know.

Do you know anything about him as a person?
He had a very long career in Hollywood. . . a survivor. From child star to major film company (Columbia) executive (production manager).


Why did he stop being Tarzan in this film?
In 1917 he was hired by producer Bill Parsons to play Tarzan, becoming the first actor ever contracted for the part. Stellan Spent several weeks shooting the tree-work and jungle scenes on location in Bayou Teche, Louisiana.  Filming was interrupted by the United States entering the Great War. Stellan enlisted as an ensign in the navy.

Why wasn’t he given screen credit?
He attended the premiere of Tarzan of the Apes as a guest of Parsons, but was uncredited in the film despite having done all the location jungle scenes used in the film. The studio offered Windrow $1000 for a release so he wouldn't be credited in the film.

Is any of his footage still in the film?
Nearly all the tree acrobatic sequences.


What happened to Enid Markey (Jane) after this film?
She had a long and successful movie and stage career until the '40s. She had made a successful transition to talkies. In the '50s she made the transition to working as a dramatic television actress. In the '60s she appeared in major comedy TV shows such as Andy Griffith, Gomer Pyle, Ozzie and Harriet, Bringing Up Buddy, etc.

Was she on the Andy Griffith Show?
Mrs. Mendelbright


How many babies were used in the film and who were they?


Bossier City artist is 'Way Out There!'
Shreveport Times ~   July 22, 2009
By Jane Bokun ~

Bossier City artist Al Bohl has always had a love of the arts and a sense of humor to match.

That love has led to a deal that may strike gold. Bohl recently finalized a development deal for his cartoon series "Way Out There!"

"I'd been working about a year and a half when I got the call from Canada," Bohl said.

Toronto-based animation and distribution company 9 Story Entertainment bought the concept and is making a pilot about a boy who attends a boarding school on the Planet Nu-B-On. The fish-out-of-water story has the boy as an intergalactic foreign exchange student whose best friend is in a city in a glass jar, whose bully is a jock and whose teacher goes by "Blah Blah."

The deal is even sweeter because for the last 10 years, Bohl has been the art director at Sci-Port: Louisiana's Science Center in Shreveport. During the summers, Bohl teaches cartooning and animation classes for all ages through the Continuing Education Department of LSUS.

For years, Bohl had been developing "Way Out There!" and pitching the concept at festivals and animators workshops. At the Ottawa International Animation Festival, Bohl was approached by 9 Story. The story is meant to appeal to young boys who can identify with the main character.

"We were thrilled to be introduced to such a fresh and highly creative property," said Liliana Vogt, vice president of development for Story 9, in a release. "Al's designs and concept for the series instantly resonated with our sensibilities, our brand and our objective, which is to find unique, character-driven comedy material with solid international appeal."

Bohl has been freelancing his cartoon ideas since earning his bachelor of arts degree in liberal and fine arts in 1984 from LSUS. All told, he has designed covers for and written or illustrated nearly 50 books, including his futuristic superhero, Zaanan.

He is married to Doris Gibson who has worked as a surgical nurse for the past 20 years. They have three grown children. Capt. Aaron Bohl is a Cobra Attack Helicopter pilot in the U.S. Marines. Allison Bohl is a filmmaker who mostly produces documentaries. Allison and her co-producer, Connie Castille, were selected as the Louisiana Filmmakers of the Year in 2007 for their film "I Always Do My Collars First." Al and Doris' youngest son, Alex Bohl, a recent La. Tech graduate and works at CenturyLink in Monroe.

Al Bohl is always willing to talk to others about cartooning and the arts. He can be reached by e-mail at

Doubling Up?: Filming Louisiana
Country Roads Magazine 1 of 2

This barn on the grounds of Central Hospital in Pineville will make you think you are in Kansas in the soon to be released movie My Own Love Song. Photo courtesy of the Alexandria Mayor’s Office of Economic Development

How cinematic trickery transforms our beloved Louisiana into something else—and often somewhere else. ??


WEB EXTRA: Click here to see photos from the Louisiana set of My Own Love Song, starring Renée Zellwegger and Forest Whitaker.

The first narrative feature film shot and produced in Louisiana had nothing whatsoever to do with Louisiana. It was 1908 and William Selig, a Chicago magician-turned-movie mogul, was moving around the country and shooting in far-flung locales in an effort to outrun Thomas Edison. And Selig wasn’t the only one—Edison, true to form, was completely paranoid of anyone else using celluloid film to create moving pictures since he partly invented the process and his lawyers were filing suit again anyone infringing on his patent.

New Orleans surfaced as a safe haven, like it often has for everyone from pirates to gangsters, and Selig set up a fly-by-night production company in the Big Easy to shoot a single-reel version of the Faust legend entitled “Mephisto and the Maiden.” It’s a classic German tale where the protagonist makes a pact with the devil in exchange for knowledge, but in the 1908 version, the trade off was for two hours with a particular female character. ?

At the time, south Louisiana was viewed as being among the major American regions that could potentially become a hub for the burgeoning motion picture industry. But a number of factors ranging from weather to politics pushed that dream out of the frame. Instead, the Bayou State had to settle for brief glimpses of starlets and only samplings of life on the set—until recent years, that is, which have given birth to a number of aggressive film tax credits to revitalize interest in Louisiana.

Unbeknownst to Selig and his team, they created a foundation for movies that are actually shot in Louisiana, but appear on the screen as somewhere else. Some folks in the industry call it “doubling,” although you could as easily dub it cheating. For instance, some location scouts swear by a small stretch along Baronne Street in New Orleans that can stand in for a New York City from just the right angle, or a nearby alley that can travel back in time after a few clotheslines are thrown up to mask air conditioners.

In short, it’s that proverbial movie magic we hear so much about; it’s the ability to visually transform a place you’ve seen countless times in the flesh, but recognize it as something and somewhere else as you sit in the darkness of a theater or your living room.

Nowhere else is this better exemplified than in the 1917 version of Tarzan of the Apes, which was partly filmed in Morgan City. It was a watershed moment not only for Louisiana film history, but also national cinema, as this Tarzan feature was among the first movies ever to gross more than a million dollars at the box office. The Atchafalaya swamp served as Tarzan’s jungle and more than three hundred locals were hired on as extras—read: cannibals—for a daily rate of $1.75 each.

The original Tarzan flick left such a footprint, in fact, that Bossier City producer Al Bohl is working on a documentary set for release in 2011. He says the silent motion picture is a fascinating story “with more layers than an onion.” Live apes were used for the shoot and many were left behind when the film wrapped—that nugget alone got Bohl hooked. He says his documentary, entitled Tarzan: Lord of the Louisiana Jungle, hopes to not only find out if there were really monkeys running around the bayous, but also if a real lion was killed on screen (a popular myth).

More recently, funny man Jim Carey portrayed a con man in I Love You Phillip Morris, which was shot in Angola, even though the script calls for a Texas prison. In an interview with SpoutBlog, an industry Web site, Carey said he had no idea what kind of “extras” he was working with inside Angola: “At one point I asked the warden, ‘So, who are we talking about here? We’ve got like a hundred people in this room that we’re in the center of. What are these guys, drug infractions or something?’ He goes, ‘Rapists, murderers.’”

The vibe was considerably less heavy on My Own Love Song, which wrapped up shooting earlier this year. Starring Renée Zellweger and Forest Whitaker, it’s a buddy flick about a wheelchair-bound singer and her best friend’s road trip to Memphis. It could have easily been about a road trip through Louisiana, though. Scenes were shot in Lecompte, Pineville, Cheneyville and Bunkie, all used as backdrops for a story that’s supposed to be told in Kansas—the rolling prairielands were a perfect fit for wheat fields. The crew also filmed for two days in downtown Thibodaux on the corner of Third and Green Street. The so-called paparazzi even caught images, which were well-circulated, of one scene where Whitaker carries Zellweger into and out of Buhlow Lake in Pineville.

Then there are those times where producers and directors are shooting in Louisiana, but it’s the wrong part of the state. Alicia Allain, originally of Brusly, has been there and done that. As a co-producer on The Badge with Billy Bob Thornton in 2001, she had the crew shoot in downtown Baton Rouge with the Mississippi River Bridge in the background when a scene called for downtown New Orleans. Likewise, as a line producer on Lush with Campbell Scott, she pointed her team to the Baton Rouge Garden District when a scene called for NOLA’s Garden District, specifically in the St. Charles Avenue area. “It’s amazing what you can get away with when you put your mind to it,” says Allain.

Louisiana certainly has a rich history of doubling. In Ray with Jamie Foxx, the Louisiana House of Representatives doubled as the Georgia House of Representatives. In The Brooke Ellison Story, Tulane passed for Harvard. In Crazy in Alabama, Houma served as Alabama. A few years ago, there was even an indie film called Anytown that was shot in Baton Rouge—thematically, Red Stick was supposed to be a generic anytown. The picturesque courthouse square in Clinton will soon become for millions of viewers vampire stomping grounds as the ficticious town of Bon Temps in North Louisiana. There was also the forgettable Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, which was shot in Shreveport and made to look like Los Angeles and Cuba at times.

On the horizon, downtown Alexandria becomes Chicago in the thirties for an upcoming production of The Story of Bonnie and Clyde, and additional shooting for the picture is slated for the Felicianas. There’s no doubt that more pictures will be made in Louisiana that aren’t always dependent upon sleepy bayou towns and alligators crossing the road. And that’s a good thing; it shows that Louisiana is a versatile locale to shoot any kind of film, whether it’s a period piece or sci-fi fantastic.

Movie magic can take you anywhere—without ever leaving home. Jeremy Alford is a freelance journalist based in Baton Rouge. You can reach him at

For immediate release 2-16-09

Media Contact: Al Bohl 318-426-8530

Tarzan’s Louisiana Connection Explored in Documentary

A documentary film is being made about the 1918 silent motion picture "Tarzan of the Apes" which was shot in Morgan City. Executive producer Al Bohl is working in partnership with the award winning Cinematic Arts Workshop of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to produce this documentary.  “The making of the original film is a fascinating story,” says Bohl, “with more layers than an onion.”

Mr. Bohl lives in Louisiana and has always been a fan of the Ape man created by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  According to Bohl, years ago a man from Morgan City told him about the film and said live apes had been used in the film and just left behind when the film wrapped. That bit of information was enough to keep the Bossier City native hooked into the story.  However, it wasn’t until the movie industry started coming to Louisiana that Bohl began investigating more into this particular Tarzan film.

“This film was the first feature film made on location in the U.S. and one of the first films to gross one million dollars at the box office,” says Bohl. That is about $25 million in today’s money.  This documentary to be entitled “Tarzan: Lord of the Louisiana Jungle,”  hopes to not only find out if there are monkeys in the bayous but also find out if a real lion was killed on screen and why, of all places, Louisiana was chosen as the place to make the movie.

Bohl and the Cinematic Arts Workshop team will travel throughout the United States interviewing scholars and fans finding these answers and much more.  The project is already stirring interest among Tarzan enthusiasts around the nation and has the blessing of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.  Elmo Lincoln played the part of Tarzan in the first film.  Mr. Lincoln passed away in the 1950s but his daughter has been very excited about this documentary project.

Mr. Bohl would like anyone with first or second hand knowledge of the Morgan City film to contact him through his website “I have high hopes that at least one person is still alive and willing to talk to us who was somehow affiliated with the movie made some 90 years ago.  A great find would be an ape costume worn in the movie.  I can always dream,” adds Bohl.

The Fantastic Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs
ERBzine Weekly Webzine
Danton Burroughs Website: Tarzana Treasure Vaults
Burroughs Bibliophiles
John Coleman Burroughs Tribute Site
Tarzine: Official Monthly Webzine of ERB, Inc.
John Carter of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs
ERBzine Weekly Webzine
Weekly Webzine
Danton Burroughs Weekly Webzine
Weekly Webzine

John Carter Film News

ERB, Inc. Corporate Site

ERB Centennial

Visit our thousands of other sites at:
ERB Text, ERB Images and Tarzan® are ©Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.- All Rights Reserved.
All Original Work ©1996-2009/2012 by Bill Hillman and/or Contributing Authors/Owners
No part of this web site may be reproduced without permission from the respective owners.