2 Apr: When Tarzan Went To Hollywood

Johnny Weissmuller made his debut as ‘Tarzan The Ape Man’ on April 2nd, 1932, when MGM released the first talkie to feature the jungle hero – spawning a Tarzanmania craze.

The blockbuster, loosely based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 1912 novel, was commissioned in part because the studio held additional footage from their African-set hit from the previous year, ‘Trader Horn’. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly reveal how Weissmuller’s Olympic swimming career had hinged on a forgery; explain how the filmmakers created Tarzan’s famous yell; and investigate why MGM stepped in to fund their big star’s divorce…

Further Reading:

• ‘Johnny Weissmuller Dies at 79; Movie Tarzan and Olympic Gold Medalist’ (New York Times, 1984): https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0602.html

• ‘The 50 MGM Films that Transformed Hollywood – Triumphs, Blockbusters, and Fiascos, By Steven Bingen’ (Lyons Press, 2022): https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/The_50_MGM_Films_that_Transformed_Hollyw/bYh0EAAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=tarzan+ivor+novello&pg=PA50&printsec=frontcover

• ‘Trailer: Tarzan the Ape Man’ (MGM, 1932): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIoPPD0NKhA

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