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ERB 100-Word Drabbles
APRIL II Edition :: Days 1 - 15
See Days 16 - 30 at ERBzine 7154a
by Robert Allen Lupton
With Collations, Web Page Layout and ERBzine Illustrations and References by Bill Hillman
April 1: On this day in 1875, author Edgar Wallace was born in Greenwich, London. Wallace wrote 175 adventure novels, including some set in Africa. He helped write the first draft of the script for "King Kong." Along with Merian C. Cooper and Delos W. Lovelace, he wrote the novelization of that film.
Wallace wrote were a series of jungle adventures with the protagonist, Commissioner Sanders, and ERB had four of those books in his library. Perhaps they influenced ERB. Wallace invented the name, N'Kima, for monkeys, and that may have been in ERB's mind when Tarzan acquired a monkey companion named Nkima, starting in "Tarzan and the Lost Empire." Tarzan had a monkey companion in "Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle," known as "Manu," the generic name for monkey in the language of the Great Apes. Kind of like having a dog named Dog.
"Guardian Monkey" is today’s Edgar Rice Burroughs inspired drabble.
Tarzan asked, “Manu, why are you following me around?”
“I stay and protect you.”
“That’s very brave of you.”
“I will show you where to find food. You gather the food. I’ll watch for danger.”
“Thank you, manu. You’re too good to me.”
“Why do you call me manu?”
“My name is Tarzan. Do you have a name?”
“N’kima is my name. N’kima is hungry. Tarzan gather berries and nuts for N’Kima. N’kima stay in the high branches and keep the lions away.”
“There are no lions in the high branches.”
“See. N’Kima do good job. You go do yours."
WHO'S GOT THE MONKEYS
April 2: On this day in 1932, “Tarzan the Ape Man” starring Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Hara was released. The one hour and forty minute film was directed by W. S. van Dyke and the screenplay was written by Cyril Hume and Ivor Novello. Hume claimed to have written the dialogue.
That doesn’t make him responsible for ‘Me Tarzan, you Jane.” At no point in this movie is the line "Me Tarzan, you Jane" spoken. When Jane and Tarzan meet, it is she who initiates the verbal exchange, repeatedly indicating herself and giving her name until he repeats it. She then points to him, indicating that she wants to know if there's a word for who he is as "Jane" is the word for who she is, until eventually he understands and says, "Tarzan."
Tarzan's distinctive call was either created by sound recordist Douglas Shearer from various sounds, or it was indeed Johnny Weissmuller doing the yell himself. Co-star Maureen O'Sullivan insisted throughout her life that it was Weissmuller doing the yell without any technical assistance.
The descendants of the monkeys used to film the movie still live in the Florida Forests.
“Who’s Got The Monkeys” is today’s Edgar Rice Burroughs and Tarzan The Ape Man inspired drabble.
W. S. Van Dyke complained. “There were hardly any monkeys in the last shoot. What’s going on? I expect the one hundred monkeys we paid for.
Who's Got The Monkeys
The animal trainer said, “I count at night and in the morning. Every morning some are missing.”
Maureen O’Sullivan poked Johnny Weissmuller. “You’re letting them go aren’t you?”
“I won’t confirm or deny that, but they look so sad in those cages.”
Maureen laughed. “They do, don’t they? I’ll never tell.”
Van Dyke screamed, “Find my damn monkeys.”
A monkey hit Van Dyke with an orange. Johnny smirked. “Looks like the monkeys found you.”
April 3: On this day in 1956, Dr. Peter Ogden published the first issue of his Edgar Rice Burroughs fanzine, Erbania. I would have purchased a copy at the time, but I was only seven years old.
Over the next 50 or so years, Ogden published 103 issues. There was no schedule and he published whenever he was ready. I subscribed when I was old enough to do so and over thirty plus years, he never lost track and I received every new issue and eventually found all the ones I didn’t have. I moved several times and he never missed a beat. We corresponded regularly through the 1990s. Charming man and a great fanzine.
The cover to Erbania #1 was very lightly printed and almost impossible to reproduce with any quality. #’s 2 and 3 aren’t much better. Here’s the cover to issue #3.
All the Erbania covers are start online at https://www.erbzine.com/mag64/6412.html.
The drabble today is “Final Issue.”
John said, “Pat, the new Erbania came today. Did yours come?"
Pat responded, “Yes. It said it was the last issue. I hate that.”
“Me too. I’ve been getting this magazine since I was twelve years old.”
“Did you get every issue?”
“Sure, Pat. Erbania wasn’t like Norb’s Notes. Norb didn’t want anyone to have a complete set.”
“I wonder why Erbania never published on a schedule.”
“I expect it was tradition. Vern Corriel never published the Burroughs Bulletin according to any schedule.”
“I asked Vern about that. He said, “What’s a schedule? It’s just a little piece of paper.”
WHAT, ME A WRITER?
April 4: On this day in 1918, the Chicago Examiner published the article, “How I Became an Author,” by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The article is quite tongue-in-cheek and self-depreciating.
The entire article has been reproduced so it can actually be read and is available at https://www.erbzine.com/mag16/1696.html.
One hundred words from the article make up today’s Edgar Rice Burroughs written drabble, “What, Me a Writer?”
“How did I become an author? Should you ask some of the book reviewers how, they would tell that you that I hadn't.
What, Me a Writer?
Luck has been with me from the first moment that I started writing and I am convinced it plays a large part in the acceptance or rejection of manuscript.
At home Tarzan is vulgarly known as our meal ticket. Whenever the sheriff is about to levy on my coat-tails I draw my trusty Underwood and dash off another Tarzan novel.
Some day, when I get to be a regular author, I'll tell you how I did it.”
April 5: On this day in 1929, Sir Nigel Barnard Hawthorne was born in Coventry, Warwickshire, England. His last role was Professor Archimedes Q. Porter in Disney’s production of “Tarzan.” The film, “The Clandestine Marriage” was released later than “Tarzan,” but Hawthorne’s work on that film was completed before the Tarzan voice work.
He portrayed Sir Humphrey Appleby, the Permanent Secretary in the 1980s sitcom “Yes Minister” and the Cabinet Secretary in its sequel, “Yes, Prime Minister.” For this role, he won four BAFTA TV Awards for Best Light Entertainment Performance.
He won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for portraying King George III in “The Madness of King George” (1994). He later won the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor, for the 1996 series “The Fragile Heart.” He was also an Olivier Award and Tony Award winner for his work in theatre.
The photo is of Hawthorne recording the voice of Professor Porter.
“Legacy” is the Edgar Rice Burroughs and Nigel Hawthorne inspired drabble of the day.
“Sir Hawthorne, how many films have you made?”
“I like to think that my appearance was the making of every film in which I appeared.”
“That’s not what I mean.”
“Of course not. My film roles, television appearances, and stage triumphs number in the hundreds.”
“You won a Tony award, an Olivier award, and several BAFTA television awards. You were nominated for an Academy Award for “The Madness of King George. You have been knighted. Whatever possessed you to make a Tarzan cartoon?"
“Young man, people will be watching and reading Tarzan long after the mad King George is forgotten.”
SHAGGY DOG STORY
April 6: On this day in 1926, Gil Kane was born as Eli Katz in Latvia. His career as an American comic artist spanned over 50 years from the 1940s to the 1990s and virtually every major comics company and character. In 1997, he was inducted into both the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame and the Harvey Award Jack Kirby Hall of Fame. Gil created the B/W dust jacket art for ERB's Beyond Thirty and The Man-Eater for Bradford M. Day's Science-Fiction & Fantasy Publications in 1957.
Kane served during World War Two. In 1949, he began a professional relationship with Julius Swartz at National Comics (DC Comics) and drew several series in the 1950s including “The Adventures of Rex the Wonder Dog.”
I remember how much I loved his art on Green Lantern in the late 1950s when I was 8 or 9 years old and had no idea that the people who drew the comic books even had names.
Along with Archie Goodwin (writer) he did the art for 84 Tarzan Sunday pages. Gil did 28 issues of the Marvel Comic: John Carter - Warlord of Mars in the '70s.
Today’s drabble is “Shaggy Dog Story”
“Gil, Archie Goodwin here. I’m reviewing the last issue of John Carter you penciled. Woola, the calot, seems a lot like Rex the Wonder Dog.”
Shaggy Dog Story
“I don’t think so. The calot has eight legs and a gigantic mouth. Rex was a white dog with four legs.
“Gil, I didn’t say they looked alike. I said they acted alike.”
“Well, I might have remembered an Robert Kanigher story from the 50’s and updated it a little bit.”
“Do you think anyone will notice?”
“Probably not. If they do, I’ll say it’s a tribute, not plagiarizing. Everyone likes a shaggy dog story.”
April 7: On this day in 1967, the “The Big Swingers," by Robert Fenton, a parallel biography of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Tarzan, was published to little or no fanfare and with little advance notice. Prentice-Hall was the publisher of this 258 page book.
As I wrote this, I checked Amazon to verify the page count. They had a copy in dust wrapper listed for thirty-nine cents plus shipping.
Information about Fenton is almost impossible to find. Here’s what it says about him on the dust jacket of the book. “He was a free-lance writer who spent five years in Europe after WW2 writing for the Marshall Plan, newspapers, and magazines. He published his own newspaper in Paris, “The European Traveler.”
He moved to Tarzana, California and in addition to researching “The Big Swingers,” he free-lanced television scripts (no information on which ones).
In 1962, he moved to Sneden’s Landing, New York, where he founded the Teen Features Syndicate and produced unknown radio and television features. I haven’t been able to verify a single fact from the dust jacket blurb, except the publication of the book.
The Edgar Rice Burroughs inspired drabble for today is “Big Swingers,” an excerpt from the dust jacket of “The Big Swingers,”
“Robert Fenton never forgot his youthful appreciation for the towering imaginative genius of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Here, in brilliant exposition, is the first full-scale biography of ERB, covering the human as well as the artistic abilities, which shaped his character and his writing.
Complete with compilations, letter, documents, synopses, lists of characters, plots and themes, “The Big Swingers, not only provides a detailed account of Burroughs’ literary works, it weaves a sharp history of events in American History. It shows Burroughs broad interest and ready comment on current issues, including: woman suffrage, prohibition, morality in Hollywood and the Scopes Trial.”
April 8: On this day in 1933, Argosy Weekly published the 6th of seven installments of “Lost on Venus.” The magazine cover illustration by C. D, Williams featured an aviation based novel, Theodore Roscoe’s “The Kingdom of Hell.” Part four of Max Brand’s “The Masterman” appeared in the issue along with the Sookie Allen article, “Men of Daring: Professor Auguste Piccard.”
Auguste Antoine Piccard was a Swiss physicist, inventor and explorer, known for his record-breaking hydrogen-filled balloon flights. Auguste was also known for his invention of the first bathyscaph.
Today’s drabble is “Fish Story,’ and it’s inspired by Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Coleman Burroughs and Auguste Antoine Piccard.
“Dad, I finished reading the new Argosy. That Piccard guy is fascinating. Balloons and bathyscaphs make an interesting combination.”
“Yes, they do, Jack. I changed it around some, but I used everything I knew about balloons when I created the Barsoomian airships.”
“Are you ever going to write a story about submarines, bathyscaphes, and underwater adventures?”
“I’ve had Tarzan fight sharks and pirates. I used a submarine in “Land that Time Forgot.”
“No, a real underwater story like Jules Verne.”
“I’ll leave that to you.”
“I’ve an idea. I’ll call it “Treasure of the Black Eagle.”
“Black Falcon sounds better.
April 9: On this day in 1932, Argosy Magazine published part 5 of 6 parts of “Tarzan and the City of Gold.” The cover illustration by Paul Stahr was for a western, “The Land of Poison Springs” by some dude named Erle Stanley Gardner. I can’t imagine he’ll ever amount to much. Edgar Rice Burroughs and Sinclair Gluck were also mentioned on the cover.
Erle Stanley Gardner created Perry Mason and under the pen name A. A. Fair, Gardner wrote a series of novels about the private detective firm of Cool and Lam.
When writing for the pulps, Gardner set himself a quota of 1,200,000 words a year. When asked why his heroes always defeated villains with the last bullet in their guns, Gardner answered, "At three cents a word, every time I say ‘Bang’ in the story I get three cents. If you think I'm going to finish the gun battle while my hero still has fifteen cents worth of unexploded ammunition in his gun, you're nuts.”
“Favorite Genre” is today’s Edgar Rice Burroughs and Erle Stanley Gardner inspired drabble. There might be a punny reference or three in the last sentence.
Erle Stanley Gardner answered the phone. “Mr. Gardner, Edgar Rice Burroughs here. We’re both in this month’s Argosy. I enjoyed your story about the poison springs. I didn’t know that you wrote westerns.”
“Thanks for calling. I liked your “Hell’s Bend” book and “The War Chief.”
“Erle, my second Apache novel is already written. Will you be writing more westerns?”
“Maybe, but I’m concentrating on a lawyer named Perry Mason. The first book comes out next year. You?”
“I'll leave detective stories to you.”
“Cool. Seems fair. I’ve got a deadline, so good-bye. I'm going on the lam to write.”
April 10: On this day in 1981, stage and screen actress, Laura Bell Bundy was born in Euclid, Ohio. She was the original Amber Von Tussle in the musical, “Hairspray” and created the role of Elle Woods in the musical version of Legally Blonde. She played Dr. Jordan Denby on Televisions “Anger Management.” In 1995, she played the young Sarah Whittle in “Jumanji” with Robin Williams.
She is signed to Mercury Records Nashville and her first single, “Giddy on Up,” was released in February 2010 and her second, “Drop On By.” in August 2010. Her album, “Achin’ and Shakin’ reached #5 on the country charts that year. Check out her work. “Drop on By” is outstanding.
When Tarzan, the Broadway Musical was being prepared, one of the first steps was to hold a workshop. The workshop was held in 2004, with Daniel Manche as the child Tarzan and Mathew Morrison as the adult Tarzan. Laura Bell Bundy played the role of Jane during the workshop. She was not ultimately cast in the role; Jennifer Gambatese received the part.
Perhaps she wasn’t available. In 2006, she appeared in the films “Surf School” and “Dream Girls,” along with rehearsals for the Broadway production of “Legally Blonde.” She was nominated for a Tony for her performance as Elle Woods.
She contracted Covid 19 during the 2020 pandemic.
Today’s drabble is “Casting Call,” and is not a criticism of Laura Bell Bundy. She’s skilled enough to sound any way she wants.
“Bob, I thought the workshop went well. Have you found Tarzan and your Jane?”
“I hope so, Meryl. The script needs tightening and you have to finish the choreography. We won’t go into rehearsal for months and Laura Bell and Mathew may have other commitments.”
“Why not sign them now?”
“The producers can’t pay them to sit at home while I polish the script, book a theatre, and build the sets. It’s a crapshoot. I’ll offer them the parts when the time comes, but who knows.
“Probably for the best. People don’t expect Jane Porter to have that Nashville sound.”
April 11: On this day in 1931, a boy, actually The Boy, was born in Pasadena, California. At age eight, John Matthew Sheffield Cassan received a starring role in "Tarzan Finds a Son," playing the part of Boy, a child who was adopted by Tarzan and Jane after his parents died in a jungle plane crash.
John was billed as "John Sheffield" in his first three Tarzan movies, before being listed as "Johnny" Sheffield in others. He also starred in a series of film as "Bomba the Jungle Boy." Monogram's Bomba the Jungle Boy film series was inspired by the adventure-book series by Roy Rockwood. Roy Rockwood was a Stratemeyer Syndicate house pseudonym. Most of the Bomba books were actually written my Howard Garvis.
After Bomba, He made a pilot for a television series, “Bantu, the Zebra Boy,” which was created, produced and directed by his father, Reginald Sheffield. Although the production values were high compared to other TV jungle shows of the day, a sponsor was not found and the show was never produced as a weekly series. About three minutes of Bantu may be watched on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8IxxIOF1_Q
Johnny passed away in Chula Vista at the age of 79, dying of a heart attack four hours after he fell off of a ladder on Oct. 15, 2010.
Zebra Boy is today’s Edgar Rice Burroughs and Johnny Sheffield inspired drabble.
“Dad, no disrespect, but I have this script. Zebra Boy is a stupid idea. I’d rather do something contemporary like “Leave It To Beaver.”
Johnny’s father, Reginald Sheffield replied. “I’ve been an actor and screenwriter longer than you’ve been alive. The audiences expect you to be a jungle boy.”
“But a zebra?”
“Son, you aren’t Ricky Nelson and your mom and I aren’t Ozzie and Harriet.”
“Maybe you could write something like “Lassie.” I like dogs.”
“No, we’re staying with Zebra Boy.”
“Great, I can’t wait until a zebra comes and tells me that someone is trapped inside a well.”
I FEEL PRETTY
April 12: On this day in 1957, the film “Tarzan and the Lost Safari” was released. The movie was the first Tarzan film in color (Eastman Color). The MGM movie was filmed in Nairobi, British East Africa and starred Gordon Scott, Robert Beatty, Yolande Donian, Wilfred Hyde-White, and Betta St. John.
Alas, Jane does not appear in the film. The film reflects the original Burroughs novels more than usual in a Tarzan movie of the period, including the ape man's brief account to the female lead of his origin (which echoes Burroughs' version), and the use of the name “Opar,” although the romantic lost city described by Burroughs is only a squalid native village in the film. Tarzan, while retaining his then-customary film characterization as an inarticulate simpleton, nevertheless displays considerable shrewdness and resource, foreshadowing the restoration in later movies of Burroughs' original concept of an intelligent, multitalented ape man.
“I Feel Pretty” is today’s Edgar Rice Burroughs inspired drabble.
Yolande Donian said to Robert Beatty, the heavy in “Tarzan and the Lost Safari, “I believe your character plans to sell me and the other airplane crash survivors to the Oparians.”
I Feel Pretty
“Correct. Riches from the treasure vaults of Opar.”
“The Opar in the books was filled with gold in jewels. The Opar in this film is a squalid village.”
“Looks can be deceiving. You can’t judge things on how they look.”
“Robert, that has to be true. You’re nothing but a pretty face. You can’t act as well as the chimpanzees.”
“Perhaps, Yolande, but it takes one to know one.”
April 13: On this day A. C. McClurg and Company and Edgar Rice Burroughs finalized the terms of the contract to publish Burroughs’ novel, “Tarzan of the Apes.” The contract was signed by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ogden S. McClurg (President of A. C. McClurg & Company) and two witnesses. The contract was typed and hand written on the rectos (the front pages of a loose document) of two legal sized sheets of paper.
The contract itself is a standard agreement, McClurg to publish the manuscript in book form "at its own expense and in such style and manner and in such quantity as it deems most expedient," with plans to sell it at $1.25 per copy. Burroughs was to receive a royalty of 10% upon the first 5000 copies, 12½% upon the second 5000, and 15% thereafter (there were about 10,000 copies printed for McClurg in 1914). Burroughs was also to receive gratis 12 copies of the book, and he could purchase additional copies at a discount of 40% off the retail price. He was to be paid an advance of $250.
More information and a reproduction of the McClurg file copy of the contract is located at https://www.erbzine.com/mag7/0783.html
“Brevity” is today’s Edgar Rice Burroughs inspired drabble.
Ogden McClurg said, “We’re excited about Tarzan of the Apes. I hope this is the beginning of a productive relationship.”
“As do I,” said Edgar Rice Burroughs. “I’m surprised that the contract is barely two pages long. I expected it to be much longer.”
“Brevity is the soul of wit. It’s also the soul of legal documents.”
“Mr. McClurg, I’d have thought contracts would need be pages long and cover every possible contingency.”
“In my experience the only reason for long contracts is to justify why one party or the other isn’t going to do what they promised to do.”
JUST SAY NO
April 14: On this day in 1967, Episode 31 of the first season of Ron Ely’s Tarzan TV show, “Man Killer” appeared on television. Tarzan is asked by Constable McFee to help solve some vicious murders. Tarzan worries about friend Tomba's odd behavior that seems connected to Dr. Rhys. After Polly suffers hallucinations, Tarzan thinks he knows the answer.
The cast included Tammy Grimes, an actress I first learned about as only a voice. She starred in several episodes CBS Mystery Theater on the radio and eventually hosted the program. Marshall hosted CBSRMT from its beginning in 1974, and left in 1982. His place was taken over by actress Tammy Grimes. Grimes, of course, was a very different actor from Marshall, but she made the hosting position her own. She made her NY Stage debut in 1955. In 1960 she won a Tony for The Unsinkable Molly Brown. She had been cast in the lead of TV's Bewitched, but choose to turn down the role in order to appear in a Noel Coward play.
Grimes also appeared in several episode of CBS Radio Mystery Theater including the lead as “Nefertiti,” a five part story of the same name. It may be the best radio drama I ever heard.
“Just Say No” is today’s Edgar Rice Burroughs inspired drabble.
Ron Ely’s Tarzan said, “My friends are acting strangely. I think Dr. Rhys has something to do with it.”
Just Say No
Polly, played by Tammy Grimes said, “I don’t think so. I had a vision of a talking rhino dressed in a gold jumpsuit. He sang a rock medley and told me that Doctor Rhys was the reincarnation of Buddha's left toe.”
“Polly have you been sampling the native’s ceremonial herbs. I said to say away from them”
“Excuse me, those are organic ceremonial herbs and the witch doctor offered them to me.”
“Polly, I told you several times. Just say no.”
April 15: On this day, the made for television movie, “Tarzan in Manhattan” made its debut on the small screen. Joe Lara played Tarzan and Kim Crosby appeared as Jane Porter in the CBS feature. Tony Curtis and Jan-Michael Vincent co-starred.
In the film, Tarzan leaves Africa and goes to New York in 1989 to avenge the murder of his Ape mother, Kala, and to rescue Cheeta, who has been captured for the evil B.B. Brightmore (Jan-Michael Vincent). Jane Porter (Kim Crosby), a cab driver, and her father, retired police officer Archimedes “Archie” Porter (Tony Curtis)help Tarzan save Cheeta..
The high point in the film for me was when Warren Zevon’s “Leave My Monkey Alone” appeared in the soundtrack.
Kim Crosby is an American singer and musical theatre actress. She was the original Cinderella in the Sondheim-Lapine musical “Into the Woods.”
“Language Barrier” is today’s Edgar Rice Burroughs inspired drabble.
Jane Porter stopped her cab and Tarzan hopped in. “Where to, buddy?”
“I’m looking for my monkey, Cheeta?”
“Buddy, you want a monkey or a cheeta?”
“Monkey is named Cheeta.”
“Was Zippy already taken? Never mind. We’ll go to the zoo.”
“Not zoo, where bad people do bad experiments.”
“Monkeying with your monkey, huh. My dad’s a retired cop. He knows the gorillas in this town.”
“Not gorillas, monkey.”
“We speak the same language, but aren’t hearing the same words.”
“Tarzan doesn’t understand.”
“She swerved around another car. “Damned Impala cut me off.”
“Don’t see Impala. See car.”
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