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For about four years, I have been writing down mentions of Tarzan, John Carter and Edgar Rice Burroughs that I have found in fiction and nonfiction.
Likely to mention Tarzan are mystery writers - such as Richard S. Prather; Marcia Muller, author of the Sharon McCone series; her husband, Bill Pronzini, a mystery and western author; Lawrence Block, known for his Matthew Scudder and Burglar series; John Dunning of the Bookman series; John Dickson Carr; Max Allan Collins; and Mickey Spillane.
Many are the “Me Tarzan, you Jane,” quote that never was said in the Johnny Weissmuller film series. Others refer to him swinging on vines, another difference from ERB’s literary works.
I even found three quotes from movies.
The first batch are by Prather in his Shell Scott series:
Shell Scott-“We’ll set up housekeeping. I’ll be the Oahu Tarzan and swing yodeling from limb to limb every day, gathering mangoes and fighting off apes.”
Loana-“Good. I’ll bind your wounds and be your … who is it?
Shell-“Jane. Me Tarzan, you Jane. Now there’s a line for you.”
“Dance with the Dead” Gold Medal. 1962.
Shell Scott-“So I said loftily, ‘Why last year, I read two books.’”
“She smiled, ‘Name them.’
“That’s easy. I, it was, … It was about a fellow named Tarzan, there’s a physical type for you. It was called ‘Tarzan’s Secret Treasure.’ I read that one, all right.”
“Prove it. What was Tarzan’s secret treasure?”
“She laughed. ‘You’re pretty smart after all.’”
“I take after Tarzan.”
“Joker in the Deck” Gold Medal. 1964.
Gedder-“He really looked like an ape.”
Shell Scott-“Like the one that killed Tarzan, if it’s the boy I’m thinking of.”
“Take a Murder Darling” Gold Medal, February 1958, Page 46
“This is Samson, rubbing hair restorer on his noodle - too late.
“This is Tarzan lost in Apeland, with diarrhea and laryngitis.”
“Kill the Clown” Gold Medal 1962, p. 79.
“Even Laurel’s breathing was back to normal, and I was snorting like a male ape downwind from Tarzan and Jane.”
“Strip for Murder” Gold Medal Books, September 1957, Page 83.
Shell Scott: “Well, slain by the slobbering ape-man, let’s say, and I do not blush easily.”
“Dead Bang” by Richard S. Prather. Pocket Books, June 1971. Page 44.
And there was a lot of skin showing (at the masquerade) - even male.
One guy was decked out in a leopard skin and nothing else, like Tarzan.
Hell, maybe it was Tarzan.”
“Bodies in Bedlam” Gold Medal Books, 1951, Page unknown.
“There was even a picture of Tarzan knifing a lion, but that one held little interest for me, being the sort of guy that I am.”
“Bodies in Bedlam” Gold Medal Books, 1951, Page 149.
Shell Scott-“You may suspect that I came howling out of the trees leading a pack of my relatives, the bull apes.”
“The Sweet Ride” Pocket Books, June 1972, Page 62
Shell Scott- “I … beat my chest like Tarzan, pranced out of the bathroom and hopped into bed.
And leaped out, emitting a great yell, like Tarzan.”
“Kill Me Tomorrow” Pocket Books, December 1969, Page 211.
“Maybe he was a jolly acrobat, doing the Tarzan bit over the front of the Sunrise (hotel).’
“Dead Man’s Walk” Pocket Books, October 1965, Page 69.
“She could not have made that sound and that question more seductively attractive, more half growlingly appealing if she’d practiced it for hours in a bubble bath with Tarzan of the Apes:”
“The Amber Effect,” Tor Books, November 1986, Page 3.
ibid, Page 217
“Aralia,” I said. “imagine that we are in the jungle. Strange, spooky sounds hoot and holler from amidst the shrubs and trees. You are Jane. You have just been out there naked, which unbeknownst to you is what caused all the hollering and hooting. Now you pop out again and what do you see? Four hundred horny Tarzans! You get..”
“There’s only one Tarzan,” she smiled. “You’re the one.”
“Way of a Wanton” (Gold Medal Books, April 1952) is about Shell Scott investigating the murder of a secretary at Louis Genova Productions, an independent movie company that filmed ”Jungle Woman” and is making “Jungle Bride.”
Some quotes from “Way of a Wanton”:
Page 28-Shell Scott- “I thought he (Douglas King, male star of “Jungle Girl”) was going to put his foot on my chest and yell like an ape.”
Page 49- Scott to gossip columnist-“I object to the implied accusation that a local ape man made me crawl, which he didn’t.”
Page 77-Scott-“It appeared that his (King’s) wife had left him, claiming she was tired of his, “Me Tarzan; who you?” conversation.”
Page 124-Scott-“There was no help for it; Hollywood had a new ape man. I grabbed tight onto a knot in the rope, shoved off into space as the gun cracked behind me, and then I went flying through the air like a bird.”
A character, Archer Block, had an interesting take on how a book is adapted into a movie, as he tells Scott (and might explain certain films taken from ERB books):
Page 78 – “First thing, you’ve got to change the title. That’s imperative. Then the studio gets about seven hundred writers to work on the book, make adaptations, put together a screen play. You take out some of the characters and put in others, see? If there’s any sex in it, you take it out and put in Love- or a pie in the face. You take out everything else and put other things in the script in place of it. Then you change the title again. The idea is to make the book completely unrecognizable. This is very important, because otherwise the film wouldn’t stink.”
“The trilling gave way to a monotonous drumbeat. Not the kind a musician would do, but more like something out of a Tarzan movie, African sounding.”
Other quotes about Tarzan
Story, “Lost Weekend” by Michael A. Black in “Pope’s Last Case and Other Stories.”
“The Tarzan Hotel was where I kept favorite things. So inside this box are some of my favorite things. My pocket knife collection, fountain pens. Some great books.”
Book, “The Marriage of Sticks” by Jonathan Carroll (1999)
Sally calls her baby, “Cheetah.” “Enforcer asks, ‘Cheetah?’ She shows him dark fuzzy hair that grows over the cartilage of his ear. ‘Remember Tarzan?,’ Sally asked him. ‘Ah, the chimp,’ Joe chuckled. ‘Cheetah, I like it.”
Book, “Kiss Her Goodbye” by Allan Guthrie, Hard Case Crime. 2005.
(Old woman)-“Oh what a fine body you have, my boy. I’ll bet you could be Tarzan of the Apes.”
(Hank) – “No ma’am,” I said. “Pardon me, but he’s the ape and those with him are his tribe.”
Book, “Ham on Rye,” Charles Bukowski, Ecco Books, 2002 edition, Page 213.
“OK, if he could imitate a trapeze performer, so could I. All I had to do was hypnotize myself (Dan Turner) into thinking I was Tarzan.”
Story, “Screen Test for Murder” by Robert Leslie Bellem, Hollywood Detective magazine, May 1950.
“It’s a wonder, it didn’t tear her apart. She (Trisha) must have stared it down, just like Tarzan in them old jungle movies”
“The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon,” by Stephen King, Scribner, 1999.
From “Doc Savage: Skull Island” by Will Murray, Altus Press, 2013:
Page 88-“Captain Savage (Clark Sr.) stared at his son (Doc Savage)with reserved incredulity.
Next, you will be leaping from tree to tree like Tarzan of the Apes,” he grumbled.
“Or mast to mast,” said Doc, suppressing a smile. He was pleasantly surprised to learn that his father had read that book.
ibid Page 144
“From this. leaped to another (branch). Then another, feeling very much like the storybook character, Tarzan.”
ibid Page 219
“Finally, Doc made conversation. “This place would impress Tarzan of the Apes.”
A feline yellow eye regarded him quizzically. “Eh?”
Captain Savage explained, ”A literary allusion that I fear is lost upon you, father, (Stormalong) having been marooned here these many long years.
“Oh, I myself am partial to Shakespeare.”
ibid Page 242
“Otherwise Stormalong seemed spry enough, and had adapted well to jungle living. He was more akin to Robinson Crusoe than Tarzan of the Apes, of course.”
ibid Page 295
“I feel very much like Tarzan of the Apes,” Doc admitted.
Frowning, Stormalong muttered, “”I fail to follow your reference.”
“Tarzan was a fictional man who was raised by apes until he achieved mastery of his jungle in Africa. It is a novel published just a few years ago.”
Old Stormy scratched his bristly beard. “Sounds like the story of Romulus and Remus, but with apes substituted for the wolves.”
“Tarzan carried a bow and employed arrows,” mused Doc. ”If I can locate the correct materials, I might do the same.”
ibid Page 357:
“A man is not beaten until he is dead, or has given up.” said Doc. “The author of Tarzan had a saying he put into the mouth of one of his characters: ‘I still live.’ Father we still live.”
ibid Page 369;
“Brilliant,” he breathed. “Simply brilliant. Tarzan himself, calling for his jungle comrades, could not have done a more credible job” (says Captain Savage to Doc)
(photographer Odd Bunsen)-“Those beads would last almost five minutes at my house – with six kids playing Tarzan.”
“The Cat Who Ate the Danish” by Lillian Jackson Braun, p 114
“It’s about time,” Carl Reese said. “Bring me beer, women,” he said with a Tarzan imitation.
“The Evil Hours,” by Raymond Benson, Twenty First Century Publishing. 1998 and 2004 revised edition, Page 2.
“I always loved heroes like Doc Savage and Tarzan – not superheroes with special powers, but ordinary guys who pushed themselves to do extraordinary things”
“The Time of My Life,’ by Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi, Atria Books, 2009, Page 17.
ibid Page 17
“I’d play Tarzan and (his brother) Donny would be Cheetah, or Boy, depending on the mood I was in. We’d swing around on a network of vines, hanging from the trees behind our house, wearing our specially made ‘Tarzan suits’ –old Speedo swimsuits with a belt around the waist and the crotch cut out to look like a loincloth. More than one neighborhood girl was shocked at catching sight of all the Swayze family jewels flying around overhead.”
“If he were a Tarzan he could swing from branch to branch on the parasitical trees, and if he had more time, he might have tried it”
“The Stone God Awakens,” by Philip Jose Farmer, Ace, Page 89
Tarzan movies did the same (as sharks) for another kind of monster jaws – whole platoons of jaws in fact, known as the piranha or cannibal fish, no matter that Tarzan lived in Africa and that man-eating piranhas live in South America, the sight was enough to make one gasp in horror.”
“Monsters” by Vincent Price and V.B. Price (his son), Grosset & Dunlap’s Today Press, 1981. Page 20.
“One More Time” by Carol Burnett, Random House, 1986
“But Cuz (Janice) never seemed interested even though we played ‘movie stars’ in her back yard. We’d be Nelson (Eddy) and Jeanette (MacDonald). I was Nelson. We’d be Tarzan and Jane. I taught myself the Tarzan yell.”
“Most of the kids at school made a stab at trying to do the Tarzan yell, but none of them could even begin to throw their hips out of their sockets like I could. My Johnny Weissmuller was hands down, the best, and I was the only one who possessed a double-jointed hip.”
(Classmate Ilomay to her son, Ira, on tape, Oct 19, 1984):
“We used to play Tarzan. All these Tarzan yells that Carol does on TV were for real. Sheena…Nyoka. She was always the boss, But I didn’t mind. We had a lot of fun. We used to swing from our legs and give our little Tarzan yells.”
Bill (Beard) pulled me out after the second rehearsal (of her college, UCLA’s,
performance of “South Pacific). I was too loud, I hadn’t realized it. I’d just opened up my throat the way I always did when I used to do the Tarzan yell with Cuz or Ilomay and the gang. I apologized and swore to him I could tone it down, but he said no, that wouldn’t be necessary.”
“The one thing he had always wanted to be was a professional writer; he had dreamed of nothing else since his discovery of the Hardy Boys and Tarzan books in his preteens.”
Story, “A Craving for Originality” in “Graveyard Plots” by Bill Pronzini. St. Martin’s Press, 1985. Page 147.
“…and Little Miss Muffet drunkenly trying to peer under Tarzan’s loincloth while he imitated a jungle yell and a group of onlookers howled with glee.”
“Masque” by Bill Pronzini. Arbor House, 1988. Page 235.
“I screamed like Tarzan on a jungle vine..”
“Hoodwink” by Bill Pronzini. St. Martin’s Press, 1981. Page 196.
“Tie a rope around yourself and one of the trees and climb down inside like some sort of screwball Tarzan.”
“Bindlestiff” by Bill Pronzini. Paperjack, 1987. Page 159.
“ “There I stood and circled the giant fern, looking for a better vantage point and feeling absurdly like an actor in a Tarzan movie.”
“There’s Something in a Sunday” by Marcia Muller. Mysterious Press, 1989. Page 4.
“Privacy,” she said. “You Tarzan. Me Jane.” “That’s ..” pointing, “bed.”
“You Could Call it Murder” by Lawrence Block. iBooks, 2002. Page 158.
“Hi, Rosie. Hi Ted. Our dialogue wasn’t the best since Tarzan and Jane. Me, I’ll take Harpo Marx anytime.”
“Cinderella Sims” by Lawrence Block. Subterranean Press, 2003. Page 37
“Me Tarzan,” I said. “You Jane. That Bed.” Ibid. Page 107
“Some broad you are,” he said.
”You Tarzan,” she said.
He stared at her.
”You Tarzan,” she repeated. “Me Jane. That bed. Let’s get with it.”
He reached for her, lunging a little like Tarzan and a little like an anthropoid ape, and she let his big-ape arms close around her slender body and draw her close.
“A Community of Women,” by Sheldon Lord (Lawrence Block), Beacon (originally) 1961.
“She was Jane and I was Tarzan … She was a hooker and I was a john. She was an angel of mercy and I was a man in trouble.”
“After the First Death,” by Lawrence Block. iBooks 2007. Page 140.
To gorilla: “Tell Cheetah Tarzan’s here to see him.”
“Quarry’s Cut” by Max Allan Collins. Hard Case Crime. 2015
“This room is for our more adventurous clients.”
She led him to a painting of a nearly naked man killing a lion with a knife.
“Tarzan’s Africa,” she explained.
“Stalking the Unicorn” by Mike Resnick. Prometheus Books, page 241
“Ordinary human flesh and nerves can only stand so much. I am tired of becoming Mr. Chips or Tarzan on a minute’s notice.”
“Hoka! Hoka! Hoka1” by Poul Anderson and Gordon Dickson, Baen Books, November 1998. Page 188
“Aye gorillas .. Tis Tarzan has set these Dagos off.”
“Trader Horn” by Alfred Aloysius Horn and Ethelreda Lewis. Garden City Publishing, 1927. Page 299.
“He tried some childish sign language, pointing to himself and saying, ‘Julian,” and then pointing at her. “Me Tarzan, you Jane.” No result.”
‘Deadly Trap” by Hugh Pentecost. Detective Book Club, 1978. Page 16.
Velda to Mike Hammer: “Take it easy, Tarzan.”
“King of the Weeds” by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins. Titan Books, May 2014.
Velda to Mike Hammer: “Later Tarzan. Tell me the story first.”
“Complex 90” by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins. Titan Books. April 2014. Page 90.
“You’ll find ‘im in his bare skin, pl’ying Tarzan of the Aypes.”
“The Cavalier’s Cup” by Carter Dickson. Zebra Books. 1987. Page 239.
“Shaking his jowls and lifting his head like Tarzan over a fresh kill, Captain Vavrick here uttered the most extraordinary noise Morgan had ever heard.”
“The Case of the Blind Barber” by John Dickson Carr. Collier Books, 1984. (reprinted from 1934) Page 20.
“Over here, some ten blocks away was his dad’s grammar school, and close by were the woods and creek where Will Jansen and he would play Tarzan.”
“Witness to Myself” by Seymour Shubin. Hard Case Crime, 2006. Page 156.
“It’s a circus,” (said the writer about the Motion Picture Hospital) “This morning, we had a guy who used to play Tarzan. He was running up and down the hall giving the jungle call. They finally got him back to his room. He’s harmless. But I think he made us feel better. It took us all back to the past when we were in the action.”
Story, “Meet the Master” in collection, “Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook,” by Charles Bukowski, City Lights Books, 2008. Page 226.
“They taught him (a movie usher) how to slide among lovers, taught him to swan dive – a daredevil merger of Fred Astaire and Tarzan – from the balcony over the audience of dreamers dreaming their own dream.”
Story, “Out takes” in “The Coast of Chicago” by Stuart Dybek. Picador 2003
“The house at Green Lodge Ranch was full of books.. There were also books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. My mother described how, about 1915, in the magazine Blue Book (sic) , there appeared the first installment (sic) of a serial called ‘Tarzan of the Apes.’ She said that this story instantly had become a fad among all her acquaintances. So at the ranch we had not only ‘Tarzan of the Apes,’ but also ’The Son of Tarzan,’ and other Burroughs books, including the Barsoom books – ‘John Carter of Mars,’ “Princess of Mars,’ ‘Warlord of Mars’ – all of which I read and reread.”
“This is Me, Jack Vance” by Jack Vance. Subterranean Press, 209. Page 16.
“He did not test the water with his hands or toes, or waltz around the bathroom drumming on his chest. He did not feel like Tarzan tonight.”
Story, “The House of Rising Wind” by Frank Belknap Long, Startling Stories, May 1948, reprinted in “The Golden Age of Weird Fiction,” volume 2. Wildside Press. 2016.
“My options were pretty limited. As I saw them, they were … 2) live like Tarzan in the woods of Alles … Playing Tarzan was even less appealing.”
“A Soldier of Poloda” by Lee Strong. ERB Inc. 2017. Page 51
“The gang would go out on the mountain and play ‘Tarzan of the Apes,’ jumping around from tree to tree and skinning their behinds on the bark.”
“Appointment in Samarra” by John O’Hara. Penguin Classics. Page 138. (originally published in 1934)
“I can think of only one woman who qualifies (as a potential bride),” said Pat (to Doc Savage).
“Who is that?” (replied Doc)
“Her first name is Jane. I can’t bring to mind her last name. But it doesn’t matter. She’s taken. A hairy-chested he-man named Tarzan snapped her up. Sorry.”
“Doc Savage: Mr. Calamity” by Will Murray. Altus Press (2018) Page 413
“… and there were detailed discussions (by science fiction fans) about how Tarzan taught himself to read.”
“Life Itself” by Roger Ebert. Grand Central Publishing, 2011. Page 88
“I guess I’ve always been attracted to book people. I couldn’t imagine I’d wind up with Tarzan of the Bookmen, swinging from one book seller to another on vines attached to telephone poles.”
“The Sign of the Book” by John Dunning. Scribner, 2005. Page 11
“My voice came from somewhere in the deep past: Me Tarzan, you Janeway.”
“The Bookwoman’s Last Fling,” by John Dunning. Scribner, 2006. Page 138
Dashiell Hammett-“I was amused by the kid’s enthusiasm. Is Ray your first or last name?”
… John Carter and ERB
“First,” he said. “it’s Raymond Douglas Bradbury and someday people who know who I am. I’m going to be a famous writer like Edgar Rice Burroughs, with my name on lots of books.”
“Ever sold anything?
“Heck no, but I’m only fifteen,” he declared. “it’s just a matter of time though. I write every day.”
“The Black Mask Murders’ by William F. Nolan, St. Martin’s Press, 1984
“Fortunately, I was in the happy position of Edgar Rice Burroughs, writing books set in Africa - or on Mars. Damn few of my readers had been to Lithuania or Afghanistan or Thailand or Modonoland. If I got something wrong, we’ll who’d know.”
Afterword to book, “Tanner’s Tigers” by Lawrence Block, Subterranean Press, 2001.
“There was usually plenty to argue about. Edgar Rice Burroughs, for example, offered a wealth of critical fodder with his Tarzan stories (was it even necessary to list all the problems Montrose had with Tarzan, starting with the very idea of him?) or his Barsoom series when protagonist John Carter had been a captain in the army of Northern Virginia before becoming mountain warlord.”
“Lovecraft Country” by Matt Ruff. Harper Collins, 2016. Page 12.
“A robot,” Neville said. “Built by Ras Thavas, the mad Red Martian scientist, to find the Green Martians. It is made up to look like a giant Martian tribal spirit, but Tars Tarkas figures out it’s really a machine and he gets John Carter to round up all the other Martians to go fight it.”
Ibid. Page 324.
“This is America’s greatest living writer and no, not Edgar Rice Burroughs. It’s Hix.”
Story, “The Raven Takes Over” by Ron Goulart in anthology “Murder for Father.” Signet, June 1994. Page 216
“Am I suggesting that every fiction writer is no more than a frustrated autobiographer? That if Edgar Rice Burroughs had been less neurotic, he’d have written his own story instead of Tarzan’s? No, of course not.”
“Spider, Spin Me a Web,” by Lawrence Block. William Morrow 1988. Page 183.
“Dawn Magic,” the first to be published, is somewhat reminiscent of Edgar Rice Burroughs. It recounts the African adventures of a young shanghaied sailor who jumps ship. Told in a very vivid first-person style, it involves love, intelligent ants, a monkey man and a ledge of solid gold.”
“The Human Zero: The Science Fiction Stories of Erle Stanley Gardner,” edited by Martin Greenberg and Charles Waugh. William Morrow and Company, 1989. Page 13.
“Don’t laugh when I ask you this, but have you read Burroughs’ Martian novels?”
“John Carter, Thuvia?”
“That’s the ones. They’re a lot of colorful nonsense, of course, but the notion of out-of-body travel isn’t as simple as that.”
“The Paper Grail,” by James P. Blaylock. Ace Books, 1991. Page 212
“I talked about supply and demand, of classics and genres and modern first editions. Why certain first editions by Edgar Rice Burroughs are worth more than most Mark Twains, and how crazy the hunt can get.”
“The Bookman’s Promise” by John Dunning. Scribner, 2004. Page 2
“I gave her my Tarzan look. The one that said, ‘A lot you know, sister. I eat guys like him for breakfast.’”
Ibid, Page 16
And, of course:
“Routine contentment was improving treehouse that rested between giant twin chinaberry trees in the back yard, fussing, running through our list of dramas based on the works of Oliver Optic, Victor Appleton and Edgar Rice Burroughs. In this matter, we were lucky to have Bill. He played the character parts formerly thrust upon me – the ape in Tarzan, Mr. Crabtree in the Rover Boys, Mr. Damon in Tom Swift.”
“To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee. Popular Library, March 1962 paperback. Page 12
“When we slowed to a walk at the edge of the schoolyard, I was careful to explain that during school hours, I was not to bother him, I was not to approach him with requests to enact a chapter of ‘Tarzan and the Ant Men.’”
Ibid, Page 20
Elvis Presley to Ursula Andress about Alejandro Rey character: “You don’t have any right to be angry, not as long as that Saltwater Tarzan’s around.”
Elvis later to Rey: “Well, well, the Tarzan of the South.”
“Fun in Acapulco”
Woman hearing yells: “Tarzan giving us the keys to the city.” Man: “Well we’ll give them back to him in the morning.”
Sheriff Sabin – “Hey, Tarzan. Why don’t you toss me one of those cold ones you got there.”
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