The Creators


E.R. Burroughs

In 1912, ER Burroughs introduced the world to Tarzan.
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His Past
Edgar Rice Burroughs was born in Chicago in 1875.  By the time he was thirty-five he had failed at every profession.  He had tried to be a cowboy,  a gold miner, and a soldier to name a few.  In 1911 he and his little family were so poor that they often had to pawn off family items, like his watch and his wife's jewelry to buy food and coal.  His current profession , a pencil sharpener sales agent, was on the brink of disaster when fate gave him a helping hand.  Everyday while he waited for his sales people to report in, Burroughs started writing fiction to amuse himself.  He was very surprised when his first novel, Under the Moons of Mars, was bought by All-Story Magazine for $400.  In 1912 the world was never the same again.  The magazine then bought the rights to Tarzan of the Apes, (Burroughs third novel) and the legend began.

His Legend
The first draft of Tarzan of the Apes was written on backs of old letters and scraps of paper. Burroughs was often inspired by the adventures of the legendary explorer H.M. Stanley's tome, In Darkest Africa, and let his imagination do the rest.  E.R. Burroughs went on into an adventurous career in writing, and wrote 23 more novels on Tarzan and 70 on a variety of subjects including missions to Mars.  He also became a savvy business man after his triumph with Tarzan in pioneering the area of licensing and authorizing products like bread, bubble gum and bathing suits.  In 1919 he moved his family to California and purchased a 550 acre ranch naming it "Tarzana Ranch".  He then sold a large portion for homesites and in 1930, a post office was established.  The 300 then residents voted to name the new city Tarzana, which is now home to nearly 50,000 people.  This was only a small part of what his dream of Tarzan had become.

His Dream
In 1918 Tarzan made the big leap to the big screen.  In just six years his dream of the legendary ape man reached thousands of fans.  With Tarzan's debut in silent films, it became one of the first movies in Hollywood to gross over $1 million.  Soon to follow were films like MGM's Tarzan the Ape Man (1932), Tarzan and the Mermaids (1949), Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan (1984), and Tarzan and the Lost City (recent).   But his dreams for Tarzan were overshadowed. Burroughs was never satisfied with the screen versions of his beloved character, and he often avoided seeing the movies.  Tarzan, to him, was a supremely intelligent and sensitive man - heroic, handsome, and above all, free.  The movies, however, insisted on portraying him as a monosyllabic Neanderthal.  Burroughs dream of Tarzan reached also into the areas of comic strips (1932), and television series (1966-1968). 

His Legacy
E.R. Burroughs died in 1950, but he left us his greatest legacy - the legend of Tarzan.  According to his grandson Danton Burroughs, who manages the highly successful family enterprise, E.R. Burroughs, Inc., Disney's Tarzan would have pleased his grandfather.  "When I saw the Disney film, it was such a thrill to finally see my grandfather's characters portrayed as he truly wrote and described them in his books," Danton Burroughs commented.  "The animators also captured my grandfather's ability to have Tarzan flying through the jungle's upper terraces.  He [E.R. Burroughs] described these wonderful scenes where Tarzan would just leap and fly, grabbing branches wildly like in a tornado and Glen Keane has captured that movement in his scenes.  I was just so pleased to see it and I think the world is going to be in for a wonderful surprise when they see his novel brought to life in animation through the Disney magic.  My grandfather and my dad would have been thrilled to see this terrific adaptation."

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