Frank Merrill won 58 National, Southern
California and Los Angeles championships in gymnastics (Roman rings, high
bars and rope climbing). He was national gymnastics champion from 1916
Prior to his roles as the fifth
Tarzan, he worked as a stuntman, doubling for Elmo Lincoln in the 1921
"Adventures of Tarzan".
His first starring role was in "Perils
of the Jungle" for Weiss Brother Artclass Productions. The director of
that movie offered him the job of Tarzan
Merrill invented the vine-swinging
techniques used in later Tarzan films and the Tarzan yell, played on a
record accompanying a "semi-sound" version of this second Tarzan movie.
When a friend of Frank Merrill's
learned of a physical culture contest in England, he entered Merrill's
photo without his knowledge. Merrill was voted second runner-up for "World's
Most Perfectly Developed Man" and the publicity from this added to attendance
at the movie. Ironically, Merrill's body was more thoroughly covered in
this film than any other Tarzan movie.
The two main heirlooms Tarzan found
in his father's cabin in Tarzan of the Apes (1918) - the locket and hunting
knife - become a single object in the film: the carved knife that Tarzan
wears around his neck.
The original star was to have been
Joe Bonomo, promoted by the studio as "the greatest of all Tarzans." Near
the end of work on another picture, Perils of the Wild (1925), Bonono fractured
his left leg and injured his sacroiliac. Frank Merrill, who had doubled
for Elmo Lincoln in Perils of the Jungle (1927), was offered the job and
began work the next day.
Episode titles: 1. The Terror of
Tarzan 2. The Love Cry 3. The Call of the Jungle 4. The Lion's Leap 5.
Flames of Hate 6. The Fiery Pit 7. The Leopard's Lair 8. The Jungle Traitor
9. Lost in the Jungle 10. Jaws of Death 11. A Thief in the Night 12. The
Enemy of Tarzan 13. Perilous Paths 14. Facing Death 15. The Reckoning