First and Only Weekly Online Fanzine Devoted to the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
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Volume 0334
Edgar Rice Burroughs


 Mary Burroughs and Bill Hillman

Mary Burroughs Portrait by John Coleman Burroughs
From the Mary Burroughs Collection

Jim Thompson
I was among the lucky few attendees of the 1999 Dum-Dum in Los Angeles who happened to be in the lobby on the first evening when Bill and Sue-On Hillman brought Mary Burroughs by to meet her first batch of Burroughs fans. I was immediately captivated by the warmth and charm of this lovely lady. She seemed to enjoy the attention that we paid to her and reciprocated with a genuine interest in the fans of her father-in-law and her late husband, John Coleman Burroughs. I had offered to host the ECOF for 2000 just a few weeks earlier and knowing that would be the next ERB gathering, I inquired of Mary if she would like to attend ECOF 2000 in Clarksville. She indicated that Nashville was already a favorite city and she assured me that she would enjoy participating and urged me to contact her and gave me her card. Soon after, Bill and Sue-On had to whisk her away to prepare for an early flight out-of-town the next morning on a business trip.

Over the course of the following year I have exchanged several letters with Mary and enjoyed several short phone conversations. She remains excited by the prospect of meeting other Burroughs enthusiasts and sharing some of her memories of life with the Burroughs family. Bill Hillman was kind enough to volunteer to produce this booklet to commemorate Mary's visit to Clarksville. Bill and Mary have worked together to provide we fans with a little background on her and her romance and marriage with John Coleman Burroughs. Tracy Griffin and Bob Zeuschner assisted Bill and me in introducing Mary to the ins and outs of Burroughs fandom. I hope her initial participation will be as joyous an experience for her as I know it will be for the fans. Further, I am confident that she will help to round out our understanding of John Coleman Burroughs, an artist whose work encompasses far more than the fantastic illustrations we love that were used to illustrate his father's later novels. Bill has provided a short biography of John Coleman Burroughs for this booklet. Mary will elaborate in her panel discussion. A tribute to John Coleman Burroughs is long overdue from our group. It is my wish that Mary will bring John Coleman Burroughs into perspective for us, and broaden our appreciation for him and for his talents. It is also my wish that Mary will so enjoy her adoption into our fan family that she will continue to participate in future Burroughs gatherings whenever it is convenient for her to do so.

Burroughs the writer has oft times been criticized for a reliance on coincidence in driving his stories. It was just a coincidence that I was in the lobby that night when Mary visited for less than an hour. Purest luck! Now look at how delightfully our story has unfolded. I have a new friend and she has many new friends and in May of 2000 we will all safari in the wilds of middle Tennessee and have a grand romantic adventure!

~ Jim Thompson
Reprinted from the ECOF 2000 Special Edition

Honey by John Coleman Burroughs
A Love Story:
Mary Burroughs Remembers
John Coleman Burroughs
It is time to tell this love story. It began during a summer art class in 1955. John had enrolled in a life drawing/painting class (night school) under an assumed name. I fell in love with his artwork and we became friends.

It was six months before he revealed his true identity to me during a Halloween party hosted by our art instructor, a lovable Italian professor on Sabbatical from Italy.  John was Errol Flynn to me but he was Tarzan to himself, physically daring, invincible, immortal and pleasantly eccentric.

He took great pride in himself, his health and physical stamina: swam every day, rain or shine, and rode horseback on the hills of Tarzana that had once been Edgar Rice Burroughsí ranch, where John spent many happy years growing into manhood.

When our Italian professor returned to Italy in 1956 John invited a select group from the art class to form a class at his studio in Tarzana.

Our friendship grew and we fell in love. Johnís modesty, regarding his talents as a painter, never ceased to amaze. He was one of the most prolific artists Iíve ever known but he took his gift lightly. He was a student of the Russian contemporary painter, Nicolai Fechin. They traveled together in the Southwest and Mexico during the forties and early fifties and John exhibited his work and sold many paintings in Arizona and New Mexico at well-known art galleries.

His talents as a father and a Tarzan role model were much more important priorities to him.

We took only one trip in the six years before we married in December 1961. It was in Spring, and we went for a weekend to Rosarita Beach and to the bullfights in Tijuana, Baha California. John, being Tarzan, ate the food and drank the water against my better judgement, as he felt immune to any consequences.
 One week after we returned he became seriously ill with what was later diagnosed as viral encephalitis, which does kill most of its victims. John did not even go to the hospital or see his physician until ten days after a deliriously high fever.

He began to suffer weakness in his legs and general malaise that summer and in December when we married he was mysteriously ill. Within six months following our wedding he was confined to a wheelchair, unable to walk. It was perhaps the worst punishment this Tarzan could endure. And the diagnosis of Parkinsonís Disease that followed rendered him inconsolable.

We sought refuge in Malibu by the ocean, which we both felt was therapeutic as well as magic for us. It did help the morale but Johnís physical condition deteriorated. During that time, Hulbert Burroughs, Johnís brother, was able to contact drug researchers in Europe, who were conducting experiments and studies with LíDopamine. It is the treatment which has become the savior for many sufferers of Parkinsonís Disease, in spite of its side effects.

John was one of the first people in the United States to try this medication, with miraculous results. After three months of closely monitored dosage, he got up out of his wheelchair, one and one-half years into our marriage and walked out on the deck of our home to view the Pacific Ocean. He was standing, unaided, on his own strength for the first time. This was such a wonderful deliverance for him. The LíDopa medication became his key to freedom from the limitations of his body, for eight hours every day. Then he would have to retreat to his wheelchair prison until the following morning when his medication started again. He had not been able to paint for two years but he barely agonized at this part of the tragedy because his other physical limitations were such a priority to his vision of himself.

He began to paint and tried valiantly to regain the use of his limbs through exercise and walking on the beach every day with our house boy or his sons, John and Danton. We started having fun doing some of the accessible things we loved, entertaining friends, and going to museums and art galleries. We tried to be the personification of our great love for each other for a little while, which will have to last me for my lifetime.

~ Mary Burroughs ~ May 2000
Reprinted from the ECOF 2000 Special Edition
Mary, Danton and John Coleman Burroughs

More excerpts from the ECOF 2000 JCB Publication
are featured throughout this ERBzine Online Tribute
Text from a JCB Art Show Programme (See JCB Gallery II)

BORN: Chicago, Illinois February 28, 1913

YOUTH: Raised on fatherís 500 acre ranch, San Fernando Valley, near Hollywood, California.

SCHOOLING: Private schools, Van Nuys High, Majored in Art, Pomona College; scholarships, prizes ~ Graduated Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa.

ART INSTRUCTORS:  Nicolai Fechin, Elmer Schofield, Thomas Beggs, Frederic Taubes, Burt Procter.

WORK: Wrote and illustrated stories for fantasy and science-fiction magazines. Book illustrator ~ Artist and writer for nationally syndicated fantasy feature ~ Martian picture studio illustrator and sketch artist: Warner Brothers, Universal Studios ~ One man shows and gallery exhibitions in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Illinois.

SUBJECTS: Mexican and Indian types, colored children, Polynesians, desert scenes, western landscape, mariner. Artist uses his own children, friends as the faces for many of his character studies; employs some professional models.

HOBBIES: Sculpturing, ceramics, photography, hiking, swimming, horseback riding.

for cover illustrations see the 
JCB Gallery I in ERBzine 0166
and the following titles in 
ERB C.H.A.S.E.R. Encyclopedia
The Oakdale Affair and the Rider                      1937
Back to the Stone Age                                        1937
The Lad and the Lion                                          1938
Tarzan and the Forbidden City                           1938
Carson of Venus                                                 1939
Official Guide of the Tarzan Clans of America    1939
Tarzan the Magnificent                                      1939
Synthetic Men of Mars                                      1940
The Deputy Sheriff of Comanche County             1940
Land of Terror                                                  1944
Escape on Venus                                                 1946
Tarzan and "The Foreign Legion"                        1947
Llana of Gathol                                                  1948

John Coleman Burroughs

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