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FORTY-THREE JANES AND A JILL
BY ROBERT ALLEN LUPTON
I’ve been researching the list of actresses who have portrayed Jane professionally, stage, screen, television, (live action and animated) and radio. My first rule was that the actress had to get paid. It had to be a professional performance. Dress up in the back yard doesn’t count. High School Theatre doesn’t count.
This list probably isn’t complete, but I think it’s pretty close. I didn’t include actresses who were in Tarzan films, but weren’t named Jane, except for one actress who’s screen character was Jill, but she married her Tarzan in real life, so I kept her on the list. I counted Maureen O’Sullivan, Joanna Barnes, and Bo Derek even though their character was Jane Parker, not Jane Porter.
This eliminated the 50 plus unapproved foreign Tarzan films along with a handful Tarzan movies, approved and otherwise, where the lead actress wasn’t named Jane. So here we go. Here’s 44 actresses for your consideration. Some of the women I’ve listed for the musical Tarzan, were replacements and understudies for the Jane role and may or may not have ever performed the role on stage. But they did the work, put in the time, and they got paid, so I’ve listed them here. I finally found a grainy newspaper clipping with a photo of Joan Landor, one of the women who played Jane on Australian radio in the early 1950s. It’s not very good, but I’ve included it here.
This article isn’t met to provide a biography of each of the actresses. Only a list, a photograph, and one or two interesting facts. ERBzine has articles that go into detail about many of the women mentioned here. Links are provided where appropriate.
2. Karla Schramm, “The Revenge of
Tarzan” (1920) and “The Son of Tarzan” (1920)
Karla is one of the two women to play Jane opposite two different men playing Tarzan.
Brenda Joyce is the other.
Schramm appeared in only four films and only received screen credit for her two appearances as Jane.
3. Louise Lorraine, “The Adventures of Tarzan” (1921)
She only appeared in five talking films, including ‘Near the Rainbow’s End,”
with Bob Steele, before retiring.
4. Dorothy Dunbar, “Tarzan and the Golden
Dorothy only had nine film credits, she was busy elsewhere,
she had seven husbands including boxer / actor Maz Baer.
5. Natalie Kingston, “Tarzan the Tiger” (1929)
She appeared in two Tarzan films.
She played Mary Trevor in “Tarzan the Mighty” and Jane in “Tarzan the Tiger."
Her film career lasted form 1924 to 1933.
6. Maureen O’Sullivan played Jane in six Tarzan
movies starring Johnny Weissmuller,
including “Tarzan the Ape Man” (1932), “Tarzan and His Mate” (1934),
“Tarzan Escapes” (1936), “Tarzan Finds a Son!” (1939),
“Tarzan’s Secret Treasure” (1941) and “Tarzan’s New York Adventure” (1942).
Maureen was the mother of Mia Farrow.
Her last acting credit was for an episode of television’s “Hart to Hart.”
She played Elenor Biddlecomb.
7. Brenda Joyce played Jane in five Tarzan movies,
“Tarzan and the Amazons” (1945), “Tarzan and the Leopard Woman” (1946),
“Tarzan and the Huntress” (1947), “Tarzan and the Mermaids”
(1948) and “Tarzan’s Magic Fountain” (1949).
After her film career, under her married name, Betty Ward,
she became the director of the Catholic Resettlement Office in Monterey, California
and helped hundreds of refuges find new lives in America.
8. Vanessa Brown, “Tarzan and the Slave Girl”
Brown had an I. Q. of 165 and was featured on the radio show, “Quiz Kids.
Her family fled to Austria in 1937, fleeing the Nazis.
9. Virginia Huston, “Tarzan’s Peril” (1951)
She appeared with Joan Crawford in Flamingo Road and Sudden Fear.
After suffering a broken back in an automobile accent,
and after being relegated to ‘B’ films on her return,
she retired and became a real estate agent in 1952.
10. Dorothy Hart, “Tarzan’s Savage Fury”
Hart only made one more film after “Tarzan’s Savage Fury.
She left acting to work with the American Association for the United Nations in New York.
The organization's first female entertainer, she spoke at the United Nations and
was an observer at the 1957-1958 meeting of the World Federation of United Nations in Geneva.
11. Joyce MacKenzie, “Tarzan and the She-Devil” (1953)
She appeared with James Stewart in “Broken Arrow,”
Robert Mitchum In “The Racket,” and Humphrey Bogart in “Deadline USA.”
12. Vera Miles, “Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle”
Technically Vera Miles wasn’t a Jane, she was a Jill – Jill Hardy in the film,
but as the only actress to marry her Tarzan, I couldn’t leave her off the list.
13. Eve Brent, “Tarzan’s Fight for Life” (1958) and “Tarzan and the Trappers” (1958)
Brent played Elaine Connelly in 1999’s “The Green Mile.”
Her last film was “Ticket Out” in 2012.
14. Joanna Barnes, “Tarzan, the Ape Man”
She was actually “Jane Parker,” since this film was allegedly
a remake of the Johnny Weissmuller / Maureen O’Sullivan film of the same title.
Barnes wrote several novels.
15. Bo Derek, “Tarzan the Ape Man (1981)
Bo starred in the films “Ten” and “Bolero.”
She is the only Jane portrayer with a Playboy cover and feature.
16. Andie MacDowell, “Greystoke: The Legend
of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes” (1984)
Greystoke was her first film,
but she is probably best remembered for “Groundhog Day.”
17. Glen Close, voice of Jane, “Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes” (1984)
Close did not appear on screen,
but she dubbed all of MacDowell’s dialogue in the film.
She was the voice of Jane in the film.
18. Jane March, “Tarzan and the Lost City”
(1998) The only actress named Jane to play Jane,
she starred in “The Color of Night,” with Bruce Willis.
19. Minnie Driver, Disney’s animated “Tarzan” (1999)
Driver recorded three albums before becoming an actress.
She was nominated for Academy Awards for
“The Phantom of the Opera” and “Owning Mahowny.”
20. Olivia d’Abo, Disney’s direct to video ‘Tarzan
and 39 episodes the Disney television series, “The Legend of Tarzan” (2001, 2002, 2003)
She starred in the television series, “The Wonder Years,”
and was Princess Jehnna in 1984s “Conan the Destroyer.”
21. Spencer Locke, Constantin Film’s CGI “Tarzan” (2013)
Spencer played “K-Mart” in Resident Evil: Extinction and “Resident Evil: Afterlife.”
22. Rebecca Reaney, Constantin Film’s CGI “Tarzan”
Rebecca is currently a member of the faculty at
the award-winning drama school, “Identity School of Acting,”
with campuses in Los Angeles and London. .
23. Margot Robbie, “The Legend of Tarzan” (2016)
Robbie has enjoyed an extensive career including playing Harley Quinn
in at least three films and important roles in
“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
24. Linda Gary, the animated “Tarzan, Lord
of the Jungle (1979)
Linda also voiced several characters on “Scooby-Doo,” “Ducktales,” and “The Little Mermaid (TV).
She was the voice of Grandma Longneck in three of the “Land Before Time” films.
25. Kim Crosby, “Tarzan in Manhattan” (1989)
Crosby has four film/tv appearances,
“Tarzan in Manhattan,” “Into The Woods” (1987),
The Cosby Mysteries (1995), and “American Playhouse (1991).
Her stage work has been extensive.
26. Lydie Denier, “Tarzán”
She also played Ogla de Coude in “Tarzan: The Epic Adventures (1996-1997)
and appeared in “Conan the Adventurer” (1997).
27. Sarah Wayne Callies, “Tarzan” (2003)
She starred on Fox TV’s “Prison Break,”
USA Network’s Science fiction thriller, “Colony,”
and of course, AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”
28. Rebecca Shiochet, Netflix’s “Tarzan and
Rebecca has dubbed dozens of
Anime films into English, as well as voicing characters in
“Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes,” “Astonishing X-Men,”
“Strawberry Shortcake,” and “My Little Pony.”
29. Joan Burroughs Pierce, “Tarzan of the Apes” (1932)
Daughter of Edgar Rice Burroughs,
Joan was married to her costar, “James Pierce,”
star of “Tarzan and the Golden Lion.”
30. Marcia Nellie Hathaway, Australia’s “Tarzan,
King of the Apes” (1951)
Marcia was the only actress who played Jane to be killed in a shark attack.
31. Pamela Page, Australia’s “Tarzan, King of the Apes” (1953)
She was best known for the Australian TV series,
“Homocide,” which aired in 1969.
32. Joan Landor, Australia’s “Tarzan, King
of the Apes” (1953).
The newspaper clipping is the only photograph of Joan Landor I’ve been able to locate.
She performed on stage in addition to radio.
wo productions were broadcast live in Australia,
“Act of Violence” and “Sunday Costs Five Pesos.”
33. Ethel Dryer, “Tarzan of the Apes” (1921)
Ethel was best known for the silent film,
“Ten Nights in a Bar Room.” Sounds like fun.
34. Jennifer Gambatese, original Broadway cast,
She also toured the USA in “Wicked,” playing Glinda, the good witch.
35. Celina Carvajal (Lena Hall), Broadway cast, “Tarzan” (2006)
AKA Lena Hall, she orginated the role of Nicola in the Broadway musical “Kindy Boots,’
and won a Tony for her part in the 2014 revival of ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”
36. Niki Scalera, Broadway cast, “Tarzan”
Niki has appeared on two daytime soap operas, “All My Children,”
and “Another World,” and the Emmy nominated after school special, “Don’t Touch.”
37. Chantal Janzen, original Schevenlingen, Netherlands cast, “Tarzan” (2007)
She’s also played Belle in “Beauty and the Beast” and Glinda in “Wicked.”
38. Bente van den Brand original Schevenlingen,
Netherlands cast, “Tarzan” (2007)
Van den Brand starred in the musical Tarzan as understudy Jane.
From August 2008 to March 2009, Van den Brand completely took over the role of Jane
from Chantal Janzen , who was on maternity leave.
39. Elisabeth Hubert, original Hamburg cast, “Tarzan” (2008)
Elisabeth Hubert has also appeared in “The Song of Music.”
40. Summer Broyhill, first US regional "Tarzan"
production, Ivins, Utah, (2010)
She appeared in four episodes of the TV series, “Brad Advice,”
one episode of “Down Dog,” and two films, “The Splintered Head,”
and “The Pudding Club.”
41. Rachelle Ann Go, original Manilla. Philippine cast, “Tarzan”
Her on-stage credits include Ariel in “The Little Mermaid,”
Gigi Van Tranh in “Miss Saigon,” and Fantine in “Les Miserables.”
She played Eliza Hamilton in the original West End production of “Hamilton.”
42. Merle Hoch, original Stuttgart cast, “Tarzan”
Her European theatre credits include Anna in “The King and I,”
Rosalind in “Some Like it Hot.”
Titania in “A Midsummer Nights Dream" and Crissy in “Hair.”
43. Kate Rockwell, St. Louis regional US production “Tarzan” (2014)
She is known for her work on Broadway
and for originating the roles of Skylar in Bring It On:
The Musical in 2011 and of Karen Smith in the 2018 musical Mean Girls,
for the latter of which she received Drama Desk Award
and Helen Hayes Award nominations.
44. Tessa Sunniva van Tol, original Oberhausen
cast, “Tarzan” (2016)
She’s played Ariel in “The Little Mermaid’ and Anya in “Anastasia”
and is a frequent performer on Dutch television.
More ERBzine JANE References:
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ERB HEROINES of
HEARTH ~ STAGE ~ SCREEN ~ RADIO
Click for full-size promo collage
JANE: QUEEN OF THE JUNGLE by Robin Maxwell
JANE OF THE JUNGLE by John “Bridge” Martin
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