THE HISTORY OF TARZAN
5. Tarzan of the Air
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Tarzan the Invicible
Tarzan Triumphant
Tarzan and the City of Gold
Tarzan and the Leopard Men
By the early 1930's radio programs held a place in American culture similar to television shows today. Families would gather nightly around the radio and listen to the continuing adventures of Little Orphan Annie, Chandu the Magician, or ~ Tarzan! Hot on the heels of Weissmuller's "Tarzan the Ape Man" the always-enterprising Joe Neebe broached the idea of a Tarzan radio show to Edgar Rice Burroughs. Burroughs was excited and the show quickly became a family affair: Daughter Joan Burroughs would play Jane and her husband - and former movie Tarzan - Jim Pierce would portray the Lord of the Jungle.

Tarzan made his radio debut on September 10, 1932, and the show was unique in a number of ways. Rather than being broadcast live like other radio programs, the Tarzan show was prerecorded onto phonograph records, which were then shipped off to radio stations. The show boasted state-of-the-art recording technology and elaborate sound effects. Burroughs wrote that "They have injected all the jungle noises, including the roaring of Numa the lion, the screaming of Sheeta the panther, the cries of the bull apes, the laughing of the hyaenas, the rustling of the leaves, the screams and shouts." Radio supplied the sound ~ your imagination provided the pictures!

The Tarzan radio show received a live premiere at the Fox Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. Three thousand people attended the festivities (even Johnny Weissmuller showed up) and listened as the first show was aired, certainly a unique "live" broadcast. The show was sponsored in part by the Signal Oil Company, and at their gas stations you were able to pick up Tarzan puzzles and other promotions, while dad filled the car up with Tarzan gas.

Tarzan was broadcast nightly in fifteen-minute episodes and lasted for two years. Then Burroughs decided to try his hand at producing his own Tarzan radio show. The result was "Tarzan and the Diamond of Asher," an elaborate thirteen week serial broadcast in 1934. A second serial entitled "Tarzan and the Fires of Tohr" was produced, but apparently was never broadcast in this country! Both of these spectacular radio serials have been made available from Adventures in Cassettes, and are unlike anything heard on radio, before or since. Yet another Tarzan radio show debuted in 1951, this time a weekly half hour show, and this lasted until 1953. But by this time Tarzan was starting to get a little tired ..

Tarzan of the Air Radio Show Promo Booklet
ET disc label for the Tarzan 1932 radio series
Joan Burroughs and James Pierce: Tarzan radio stars
ERB dictating a novel into the Ediphone dictating machine
Signal Oil Tarzan Club pinback
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BIBLIO REFERENCES FOR SIDEBAR COVERS:
Tarzan the Invicible ~ Tarzan Triumphant ~ Tarzan and the City of Gold ~ Tarzan and the Leopard Men
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THE HISTORY OF TARZAN
Tarzan 1
Tarzan 2
Tarzan 3
Tarzan 4
Tarzan 5
Tarzan 6
Tarzan 7

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The Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs

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