Mathew Baugh and Listverse present 10 Facts About Tarzan That Will Surprise You. Here are three of my favorites…
Tarzan Was Not Raised By Gorillas
Everybody knows Tarzan was raised by gorillas. It’s part of the established Tarzan lore . . . right? Well, this is a common misconception. In fact, it’s so common that a number of movies have gotten it wrong.
Tarzan was actually raised by a species of ape unknown to science. These creatures resemble gorillas in size and strength, but they differ in other ways. These great apes often walk upright, hunt animals, eat meat, and have a spoken language. They call themselves the “mangani,” and Burroughs describes them as “huge,” “fierce,” and “terrible.” He adds that they’re “a species closely allied to the gorilla, yet more intelligent.” Thanks to their smarts and strength, the mangani are “the most fearsome of these awe-inspiring progenitors of man.”
Edgar Rice Burroughs Killed Jane
The first actress to play Jane Porter was Enid Markey in Tarzan of the Apes. Unfortunately, Ms. Markey was a brunette, which went against Burroughs’s image of Jane. In the novels, Jane is actually a blonde. (She isn’t British, either. She’s actually from Maryland.) It didn’t help that Burroughs hated Markey’s performance. In fact, he supposedly hated it so much that he killed off Jane in his next story.
In the first chapter of Tarzan the Untamed, Tarzan is away from home when World War I breaks out. When he returns, he finds that German soldiers have looted and burned his home, killing many of his servants and friends in the process. And shockingly, they’ve murdered Jane.
Tarzan Auditioned For A Tarzan Movie
Edgar Rice Burroughs had a love/hate relationship with Hollywood. He loved the exposure and extra income, but he hated the way movies changed his character. He particularly disliked Elmo Lincoln, the first movie Tarzan, who was afraid of heights. Lincoln was also a beefy man with a 132-centimeter(52 in) chest in contrast to the lean, athletic Tarzan of the books.
Nor was Burroughs happy with Johnny Weissmuller (pictured above), the most famous movie Tarzan. He wanted Tarzan to be articulate, but Weissmuller’s version could barely speak English.
The author took out his frustration in Tarzan and the Lion Man. In this novel, our hero rescues a movie crew filming in the African jungle. Along the way, Burroughs mocks the actors, directors, and moviemaking in general. But the coup de grace comes in the last chapter. After his adventure, Tarzan visits Hollywood, and he’s taken to meet a casting director:
“The casting director sized Clayton up. ‘You look all right to me; I’ll take you up to Mr. Goldeen; he’s production manager. Had any experience?’
The casting director laughed. ‘I mean in pictures.’
‘Well, you might be all right at that. You don’t have to be a Barrymore to play Tarzan. Come on, we’ll go up to Mr. Goldeen’s office.’
They had to wait a few minutes in the outer office, and then a secretary ushered them in.
‘Hello, Ben!’ the casting director greeted Goldeen. ‘I think I’ve got just the man for you. This is Mr. Clayton, Mr. Goldeen.’
Goldeen’s eyes surveyed Clayton critically for an instant; then the production manager made a gesture with his palm as though waving them away. He shook his head. ‘Not the type,’ he snapped. ‘Not the type, at all.’”