For this week's "history" we're heading to the jungle because
The last time I saw a musical in which the chief selling point was a buff male bod it was atrocious. [The musical not the bod, no siree.] This time I'll just look at pictures rather than buying a ticket.
For your viewing pleasure and historical edification, Tarzan throughout the (movie) ages... [click on the photos to enlarge]
The Silent Era
Elmo Lincoln was the first credited Tarzan (in 1918) to swing across the screen. Those vines musta been sturdy. Silent films also gave us the first transsexual Tarz--oh, I kid. That's just James Pierce, Edgar Rice Burrough's son-in-law enjoying some Hollywood nepotism long before Tori Spelling was ever an apple in Aaron's eye. I love the smart print top. 'He Tarzan, you Wilma' --er, I mean, Jane. Jane. Stuntman Frank Merrill was the last silent Tarzan. Only he wasn't. Just as films began to experiment with sound he got to emit the first famous 'Tarzan yell'.
Or "When Tarzan Got Hot" And by hot I mean molten lava temperatures. Technically Johnny Weismuller deserves his own page. He will always be considered "Tarzan" in the way that Sean Connery is still considered "Bond." But Flash Gordon himself, Buster Crabbe, also played Tarzan during the decade... so I had to share the visuals. Jane hadn't a prayer. Talk about jungle fever. There was bound to be a little Tarzan Jr added to the movies before long. There were at least two other Lords of the Apes during this decade, too, which means there's probably lots of fascinating legal copyright issues to consider but I'm too busy staring at Johnny and Buster to do real reportage. Don't judge.
The 1940s and 1950s
"The Post Weismuller Years". After Weismuller vacated his long held jungle post there was never again even a threat to his definitive Tarzan status though it wasn't for lack of trying. Lex Barker was first up. He has the distinction of rapidly rotating "Janes". What? Did he have Clark Gable breath or something? He starred with five of them. The 50s also dropped beefcake pinup Gordon Scott into the mix. I'm not sure what happened to the gene pool but that physique only existed in the 50s. Some of his Tarzan flicks are, incidentally, considered among the best in the series. At the tail end of Tarzan's last busy decade, Denny Miller took over. He carries the distinction of being the first blonde Tarzan. He's still alive so Daniel Craig might want to give him a call if you know what I mean.
Difficult as it may be to believe, this is not a still from the latest release from Raging Stallion or Falcon This is just Mike Henry a former football pro who played Tarzan thrice in the 60s.
Nothing much to report. Tarzan's dark period. The only Ape Men the American public showed any interest in had names like Cornelius and Dr. Zauis
Tarzan took a backseat to a bimbo-fied Jane in the 1981 Bo Derek jiggle fest Tarzan, the Ape Man. In fact Tarzan in the form of Miles O' Keefe didn't speak at all. Not one line of dialogue. It's basically Chippendales Dancer gone savage. But all was not lost for our favorite elephant riding hero in the Me Decade. It only took sixty-six years of the franchise before the movies finally gave Tarzan the prestige treatment with Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. If I'm not mistaken it's the only Tarzan film to receive multiple Oscar nods. French actor and hottie Christopher Lambert starred as the titular character before his days of chopping off heads in the Highlander movies (cool at the time) and sleeping with Diane Lane offscreen (cool forever).
Remember when Casper Van Diem had a career and bragged in magazines about his 27 inch waist? Neither do I. [Blogger also pleads amnesia upon hearing "Casper Van Diem" and proclaimed so by refusing to upload his photo from Tarzan and the Lost City] Moving on... This decade also brought us the first incarnation of Phil Collins Oscar-winning musical version for Disney. You didn't need to see his photo either.
The public hasn't been truly devoted to Tarzan for some time. But Hollywood will keep on trying. There was that failed TV series a few years back and now this new Broadway show ... which brings us up to date. *whew*
Beat your chest like Cheetah if you're swinging from his vine.
* If you're new to this blog, please look around-- there's lots more.
* Also vote on part 2 of the favorite actor poll (non Tarzan related)
If you're interested in more shirtless Ape Man pictures (and I do mean a lot more) check out these expansive fan sites: "Tarzan Movie Guide", "Down Memory Lane with Tarzan", "Edgar Rice Burroughs Tribute Zine" and the scrumdiddlyumptious "Brians Drive In Movie Theater"
Missions: Impossible * Dakota Fanning *Bunny Rabbits * Sharon Stone * Jodie Foster *Gender Bending * Bald Women * Sarah Jessica Parker * Gay Cowboys * Julianne Moore's Screen Kids * Gyllenhaal
tags: Tarzan, Broadway, theater, movies