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Volume 6892

By John Martin

Horses, of Course, on Tarzana Ranch -- 5/8
Horses were a primary mode of transportation on ERB’s Tarzana Ranch as well as on Rancho del Ganado, the fictional spread which was the setting for ERB’s 1922 novel, “The Girl from Hollywood.” In ERB’s book, the Pennington family members were early risers:

At a quarter before six she [Shannon Burke] was awakened by a knock on her door….” (GH, Chapter XIV) “The colonel and Mrs. Pennington were already mounted. Custer and a stableman held two horses, while the fifth was tied to a ring in the stable wall. It was a pretty picture—the pawing horses, with arched necks, eager to be away; the happy, laughing people in their picturesque and unconventional riding clothes; the new day upon the nearer hills; the haze upon the farther mountains.

Does this, too, describe a typical real-life scene at the Tarzana ranch? Irwin Porges writes in “Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Man Who Created Tarzan,” “The ranch also provided the opportunity for Ed to return to horseback riding—an activity he had loved ever since his school days in Chicago and at Michigan Military Academy. Ed’s love of horses and enthusiasm for riding had been passed on to his family. By the following year, riding had become an important part of the family life. The children had their own saddle ponies, and even Emma had taken up the sport.” (Porges, 309-310)

ERB’s love for and familiarity with horses, gained not only from the military academy but also from his days as an Idaho cowboy and from his service with the 7th Cavalry in Arizona, is evident throughout the book.

ERB doesn’t merely use horses as props for the characters in his story, but he tells of little things which one unfamiliar with horses would not even know. For instance, in Chapter I we read, “The big bay stallion in the lead sidled mincingly, tossing his head nervously, and flecking the flannel shirt of his rider with foam.

As a non-horseman, I didn’t know horses decorated their riders with foam! Neither did I know of another little habit of horses that Burroughs reports in GH, Chapter XXV:

Just then he reached the summit of the trail leading out of Jackknife Canon toward the east pasture. As was his wont, the Apache stopped to breathe after the hard climb and, as seems to be the habit of all horses in like circumstances, he turned around and faced in the opposite direction from that in which his rider had been going.

ERB’s memories of the life of a cavalry man are also recalled in a bit of a whimsical way in a description of Slick Allen: “He was a lean, sinewy man, of medium height. He might have been a cavalryman once. He sat his horse, even at a walk, like one who has sweated and bled under a drill sergeant in the days of his youth.” (GH, Chapter I)

The first British edition of “The Girl from Hollywood,” published in 1924, had the same just jacket art (by P.J. Monahan) as the U.S. edition, which is also the same cover art which will be on the jacket of the new ERB Inc. edition.

For the second British edition, 1926, pictured here, the Methuen company “commissioned a new cover by an unknown artist which shows a fully attired heroine assisting a fallen man on a hillside. While being dramatic, it was not exactly an adventure cover, but neither was it exploitive.” That statement was by Michael Tierney in “Edgar Rice Burroughs Hundred Year Art Chronology Volume 2: The Books,” page 106. He was making a comparison with the first hardback jacket cover, which showed the scantily clad girl being filmed by a movie photographer while being ogled by a leering movie mogul.

Tierney noted that the jacket for the 1928 edition had a new painting by G.W. Goss, and “…featured either a very tall man or a very tiny horse. The action cover combined with a ballerina dancing in front of a camera on the spine did a better job of showing the variety of content contained within this title.”

Angora Goats and Pristine Pigs -- 6/8
Cattle and pigs were the animals nurtured on the fictional Rancho del Ganado of “The Girl from Hollywood by Edgar Rice Burroughs, but on the real-life Tarzana Ranch which served as the inspiration for del Ganado, the livestock were Angora goats and Berkshire hogs.

Irwin Porges, author of “Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Man Who Created Tarzan,” writes, “With the estate, Ed acquired a small herd of registered Angora goats, living in the hills and deeper canyons. Ed’s plans were to continue raising goats in these upper areas, increasing the size of the herds, while using the lower ground for his Berkshire hogs.” (p. 303)
Later, Porges quoted Burroughs as saying, “If pigs are anywhere near as hardy as these goats we ought to make a fortune in Berkshires….just with the natural increase we could start with one sow and at the end of five years have a million pigs but inasmuch as we are going at it slowly, we intend to start with only five sows and at the end of five years God only knows how many we will have.” (p. 308)

In Chapter XV of GH, Eva offers to show Shannon the Berkshires. Shannon at first can think only of Berkshire Hills, but soon realizes Eva speaks of the pigs. We then find this passage, which no doubt incorporates a lot of ERB’s knowledge about pigs:

They soon reached the pens and houses where sleek, black Berkshires dozed in every shaded spot. Then they wandered farther up the canon, into the pasture where the great brood sows sprawled beneath the sycamores, or wallowed in a concrete pool shaded by overhanging boughs. Eva stooped now and then to stroke a long, deep side.
“How clean they are!” exclaimed Shannon. “I thought pigs were dirty.”
“They are when they are kept in dirty places—the same as people.”
“They don’t smell badly; even the pens didn’t smell of pig. All I noticed was a heavy, sweet odor. What was it—something they feed them?”
Eva laughed.
“It was the pigs themselves. The more you know pigs, the better you love ‘em. They’re radiant creatures!”
This Swedish edition of “The Girl from Hollywood,” in paper wrappers, was published in 1926 in Stockholm. The scan of this copy comes from the ERB Memorial Collection at the University of Louisville. It was translated by “Taurus” and is 380 pages. Cover is by an unknown artist and there is no interior art. Described on pages 29-30 in “Edgar Rice Burroughs Memorial Collection: A Catalog” by George T. McWhorter

A British paperback of “The Girl from Hollywood” (Front and Back Covers from ERBzine) was published by Pinnacle in June, 1954, with cover by an unknown artist, possibly J.E. McConnell, notes Michael Tierney in his book, “Edgar Rice Burroughs 100 Year Art Chronology Volume II: The Books.”

Tierney also noted that “The Macaulay first. edition cover had taken an exploitive approach which seemed to confirm what the negative reviews were saying at the time, while the later Methuen editions had semi-adventure.covers. But the Pinnacle cover was downright menacing. Three different book companies took completely different approaches to present the property. When originally serialized in the pulp Munsey Magazine, the advertising copy took yet another approach and played up the romance angle. It’s no wonder that the star-crossed Girl from Hollywood was always so misunderstood.

Hunting for Movie Revenue -- 7/8
Edgar Rice Burroughs once thought about doing a little hunting, but he was open to having his views changed to where he no longer thought much of the sport. When he wrote “The Girl from Hollywood” in 1922, he also depicted one of his characters, Colonel Pennington, as a man who did not care much for hunting…or hunters.

When ERB and his family first moved onto the Tarzana ranch in 1919, he bought .22 caliber rifles for himself and son Hulbert as well as various other firearms. The plan was to do some hunting, although just what he was going to hunt, ERB didn’t say in a letter of 1919, though he did mention problems with predators decimating his livestock. (“Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Man Who Created Tarzan,” by Irwin Porges, p. 307)

Later, ERB changed at least somewhat his stance on hunting, and ended the practice of allowing hunters on the Tarzana ranch. In fact, he even took an oath as a deputy sheriff so he could more easily enforce his no-hunting rules, Porges said.

What brought this on? In 1923, says Porges, ERB read “a book entitled ‘Mother Nature’ by William J. Long (who) expressed views about animals that were some fifty years ahead of the current ecological movements. He stressed love of all wild things which he felt have an inherent right to life and should be protected by man rather than slaughtered for sport. From that time on, Burroughs would not permit hunters on his ranch.” (p. 307)

This change of view probably has a lot to do with a passage in GH, written that same year, which referred somewhat sarcastically to deer hunters. The liquor smugglers were worried about moving all of their illegal spirits out of the hideaway in the hills by hunting season because, “During the deer season, if they did not have it all removed by that time, they would be almost certain of discovery, since every courageous ribbon-counter clerk in Los Angeles hied valiantly to the mountains with a high-powered rifle, to track the ferocious deer to its lair.” (GH, 9)

Part of the plot of GH features the arrival of a movie company for shooting of scenes on Rancho del Ganado. This, too, was taken from ERB’s real-life experiences. He actively encouraged movie companies to use the Tarzana ranch for filming, charging them $15 per day or $75 per week, as a way of making extra revenue.

ERB wrote young fan Irene Etrick of England in 1922 that “My children are having a great deal of excitement now because the Universal people are making a picture of the days of Buffalo Bill in the canyon on the back of the ranch….” (Porges, p. 340)

Burroughs promoted the use of the ranch for Goldwyn Studios’s “Ben Hur.” Various studios, such as Vitagraph and Metro, used the Tarzana landscape for scenes in their movies of 1923 and later. It was a beautiful place for filming movies, and a beautiful place for living, Porges says.

Click for full size
Since Hollywood has failed to properly portray Tarzan on the screen to the full extent, and since it reshaped John Carter in its own image as well, one can only wonder what it would do to other ERB efforts, such as “The Girl from Hollywood.” In these posters, my imagination has run wild with what Hollywood might do if it got its hand on this particular ERB story.

The Spell of Tarzana del Ganado -- 8/8
Life for Edgar Rice Burroughs was not without its pesky problems, but while living on Tarzana Ranch, ERB was beginning to relish the things he valued most and had dreamed of for years, “the invigorating outdoor life, the pioneer or western environment, and the sense of ownership as he gazed from the knoll of his home to see the valley, the groves and canyons, and the mountain peaks in the distance.” (“Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Man Who Created Tarzan,” by Irwin Porges, (p. 307)

Burroughs himself observed: “…as I sit in my office I am looking out across green fields and a tree-dotted valley to the mountains ten miles away on the opposite side. The roses are in bloom in a long winding border on either side of my driveway down the hill to the county road, and in my orchard the fruit trees are in full blossom. 250 Angora kids are kicking their heels in the corral up the canyon while their mothers are out on the grassy slopes in the mountains at the farthest end of the ranch.” (Porges, p. 308)

Such sentiments by the master of adventures seem to echo the thoughts of the fictional Colonel Pennington in ERB’s “The Girl from Hollywood.” In Chapter III of the story, Colonel Pennington told his son Custer Jr.:

“I have been looking at it for twenty-two years, my son…and each year it has become more wonderful to me. It never changes and yet it is never twice alike. See the purple sage away off there, and the lighter spaces of wild buckwheat and here and there among the scrub oak the beautiful pale green of the manzanita—scintillant jewels in the diadem of the hills. And the faint haze of the mountains that seems to throw them just a little out of focus, to make them a perfect background for the beautiful hills which the Supreme Artist is placing on his canvas today. An hour from now He will paint another masterpiece, and to-night another, and forever others, with never two alike, nor ever one that mortal man can duplicate; and all for us, boy, all for us, if we have the hearts and souls to see!”

“The Girl from Hollywood” stands as a glimpse at some of the realities in the life of Edgar Rice Burroughs, as well as perhaps some of the things he wishes were so."

The book is a good read simply for entertainment value, but far more meaningful when one has the background from reading Irwin Porges’s biography.

Click for larger images featured in ERBzine 0769

1. The original edition of “The Girl from Hollywood,” published by Macauley, was trimmed in several places when Ace republished it as a paperback in 1966.
2. The 1979 paperback of “The Girl from Hollywood,” published by Charter, used the same Boris artwork as the 1966 Ace edition, but the presentation of the image was different.

The full text will be restored in a new edition to be published this spring by ERB Inc.
and it can be ordered in advance HERE:

ERBzine References For The Girl From Hollywood
Munsey Pulp Magazine Covers in ERBzine Pulp Encyclopedia

Munsey Pulp Magazine Cover Collage


An Illustrated Docu/Novel by Bill Hillman

Entire Text
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Pt. I: Illustrated
The Arrival
Pt. II Illustrated
Ed's Inner Sanctum
Pt. III Illustrated
Mansion & Ballroom
Pt. IV Illustrated
Trail Ride
Pt. V Illustrated
Hollywood Visit
El Caballero/Tarzana Promotional Booklet
Photos ~ Text by ERB ~ Art by Studley Burroughs
ERBzine 1091 ~ ERBzine 1092 ~ ERBzine 1093

Special The Girl From Hollywood Issue
Burroughs Bulletin Issue New Series 31 Reprinted in ERBzine 5231

The Tarzana Ranch / Girl From Hollywood Connection
By Bill Hillman

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