Tarzan Centennial

I grew up in Tarzana, a community in the San Fernando Valley in So. California. The community is planning several celebrations of their famous resident and founder of the neighborhood.

The first story about Tarzan, created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, appeared in the 15-cent “The All Story” magazine of October 1912.  The title was “Tarzan of the Apes: A Romance of the Jungle” and the cover of the magazine depicted a brawny half naked man about to kill an enormous roaring lion.  It was an instant success for Burroughs, who up to that time had struggled to find his true calling.

The young Burroughs, from Chicago, had tried his luck as a cowboy, gold miner, shopkeeper, railroad cop and Sears & Roebuck manager.  He also joined the US Cavalry in Arizona to chase Apaches without success.  At the age of 37 with a wife and a 3rd child on the way he took a job as a sales manager of pencil sharpeners.   During this period, he had copious spare time and began reading many pulp magazines.  In 1929 he recalled thinking that…

…if people were paid for writing rot such as I read in some of those magazines, that I could write stories just as rotten. As a matter of fact, although I had never written a story, I knew absolutely that I could write stories just as entertaining and probably a whole lot more so than any I chanced to read in those magazines.

He sold his first story, “Under the Moon of Mars” in 1911.

Encouraged by that success he created 131 pages of the adventures of a true noble savage, Tarzan.  His hero, born of a marooned British Lord and Lady, but raised by a tribe of apes was an instant success and was the beginning of the Tarzan empire.  Burroughs wrote 26 Tarzan books, 50 Tarzan movies were made as well as appearances on TV, cartoons and comic books.   During his lifetime Burroughs wrote almost 70 books of science fiction and fantasy.

In 1919 Mr. Burroughs bought the Gen. Harrison Grey Otis estate and named it Tarzana Ranch.  In 1927 his estate was renamed the community of Tarzana.

He must have relished adventure because when over 60 years of age he applied for and was accepted as a war correspondent in World War II, the oldest one ever.

He died of a heart attack on March 19, 1950 at the age of 74 and his ashes are buried under a mulberry tree outside his former Ventura Blvd. office.