Monday, September 10, 2012

Rant #801: Tarzan of the Apes

Tarzan of the Apes turns 100 today.

In 1912, the book featuring the character for the first time, "Tarzan of the Apes," by Edgar Rice Burroughs, was released.

The book talked about a young child who was lost in the jungle, and raised by apes.

He wasn't an ape, but he acted like one.

Of course, he was handsome, viral and was as athletic as any person on earth.

The books made their mark, and Hollywood called.

Elmo Lincoln, Johnny Weismuller and a whole slew of other Tarzans filled the role over the years.

And all of the actors fit the part perfectly--young, handsome, and very athletic, especially Weismuller, who was perhaps the best of all the screen Tarzans.

What he possessed that the others didn't was that "rough" look. He really looked like he could have been Tarzan, had the character actually been a real person.

And that yelp--well, no one before or since has duplicated it.

However, the Tarzan that I resonate with the most is Ron Ely.

Yes, there have also been a slew of TV Tarzans, but Ely filled that role in a mid-1960s TV show that was really so far off the mark that it was ridiculous.

Ely played a Tarzan that was socialized, spoke perfect English, and was more a superhero/adventurer than anything else.

Heck, the Supremes (yes, Diana Ross and ... ) actually guest starred on the show as ... nuns!

It was a ridiculous show, but as a young kid, I guess I kind of liked it.

The character has continued on, as strong as ever, in the movies, on TV, in comic books and cartoons and other media, and shows no sign of dying out.

It's that basicness of the character--a human raised by apes--that I think gets people going on this character.

So happy 100th birthday to Burroughs' best creation (sorry, John Carter), and many, many more.

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