Tuesday, June 4, 2013

"Tarzan" on TV

June 2 was Johnny Weissmuller's birthday. I wanted to do something special for him, but he didn't actually appear as "Tarzan" on television except when his movies were broadcast (I saw them in St. Louis on KPLR-TV channel 11 mostly).

However, "Tarzan" *did* appear on TV. First he was portrayed by Ron Ely on the TV series TARZAN which ran from 1966-1968. His co-star was Manuel Padilla, Jr as "Jai." There was no Jane; in this series Tarzan was basically a lone adventurer and protector of the jungle. I always got the feeling that Jane was about to enter into this world; I think it would have been cool if Jane *had* been introduced into this continuity, although Tarzan was hardly a man of mystery (as he was supposedly at the beginning of the Johnny Weissmuller-Maureen O'Sullivan film series).

The next Tarzan on TV that I know of was the cartoon version, which ran from 1977-1982. First he was co-billed with Batman, then with a group called The Super Seven, then with The Lone Ranger, and finally with Zorro. During all of these versions, there was no actual "teaming-up" involved; cartoons could better fit into 10-15 minute segments if they were under an overall show title umbrella. I have to say I didn't watch a lot of these shows, although I recall them being around.

The next Tarzan on TV ran from 1991-1994. It starred Wolf Larson as Tarzan and Lydie Deneir as Jane Porter. I was in Japan at this time and have never seen this. It looks kind of cheesy.
When Disney made their cartoon TARZAN they also made The Legend of Tarzan as a follow-up. It appeared on the Disney Channel as well as UPN and other cable networks. None of the voice talents from the movie were involved in the TV series.

And lastly, for legions of fans of Carol Burnett the "Tarzan Yell" belongs to her. She was often asked to perform it for her fans during her variety series, which ran from 1967-1978. Here she explains how it started to Larry King.

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