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Tarzan was the hero of two popular radio programs. The
first began on 12 September 1932 with James H. Pierce in the role of
Tarzan, adapting the novel Tarzan of the Apes in 77 installments,
airing three times each week, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Each
episode, not counting commercials, ran for about ten minutes. This
series was followed by two original stories, written by Rob Thompson,
"Tarzan and the Diamond of Asher", 39 episodes airing every weekday
starting 1 May 1935, and "Tarzan and the Fires of Tohr", 39 episodes,
airing during 1936. Both of these stories Rob Thompson later adapted for
the Tarzan comic strip and again for the Dell Tarzan comic book.
The second Tarzan radio program began 1 November 1951
and ran for 75 half hour episodes, ending on 27 June 1953. Lamont
Johnson played Tarzan.
Information drawn from other sources:
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
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! Yet another Tarzan radio show
debuted in 1951, this time a weekly half hour show, and this lasted
A lot of great information about the Tarzan Radio series!