the offer of A.C. McClurg & Co., a small but distinguished publisher
in Burroughs' home town of Chicago. Tarzan of the Apes finally appeared
as a book in June of 1914. Two dollars would have bought you a copy. Today,
if you can find that first edition, you might have to pay up to sixty thousand
dollars! (We suggest you get a copy of the Del Rey paperback; it's easier
to find and a whole lot cheaper.)
Tarzan of the Apes sold well
and even got good reviews. Naturally Burroughs was quite pleased (although
the critics wouldn't always be so kind). His jungle lord was popular in
magazines, newspapers and books. And all of his other stories were popular
too. He could afford to by his family a home. But Tarzan was about to enter
a new jungle, and his adventures there would change how the world looked
at the ape-man.
Tarzan was going Hollywood!
Movie producers started to
show interest in Tarzan almost immediately after the first book appeared
in 1914, but no one could figure out how to film a Tarzan story. How to
film the lush jungle, the apes, the stampeding elephants, the battles with
wild beasts, Tarzan's swift travel through the trees, all without injuring
your actors or (most important to producers) going broke?
Curiously, the first Edgar
Rice Burroughs story to make it to the big screen was not a Tarzan tale:
The Lad and the Lion debuted in 1917 and starred "the Girl with the Million-Dollar
Smile" Vivian Reed. This story of an orphaned waif adventuring among Arab
nomads had some Tarzan-like elements and didn't cost a whole lot to make.
But an imitation wasn't enough and so it was only a matter of time before
the mighty ape-man conquered the celluloid jungle.
"Tarzan of the Apes" debuted
on January 27th, 1918 at New York's Broadway Theater. In bringing the epic
to the screen the film's producer promised "the largest and finest specimens
of apes to be found ... not two or three lions, but a herd of twenty or
thirty ... hyenas, wild boar, leopards, antelope, and all the other numerous
fauna of Central Africa will appear." To give viewers the sense that they
were in the depths of the African jungle the film makers trekked off to
the wilds of ... Morgan City, Louisiana. And even though the film didn't
include everything the producer promised, "Tarzan of the Apes" was still
a hit, being one of the first films in history to gross over a million