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[TV Party] TV's Tarzan
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Ubiquitous
2017-10-11 09:40:23 UTC
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by Cary O'Dell

After considerable success in book form, in the comics, on the big
screen and even, believe it or not, on radio, it makes perfect sense
that the Lord of the Jungle would eventually swing into television.

The TV incarnation of Tarzan was played by Ron Ely, the 15th actor
to take on the role. But Ely’s version of the famous jungle-dweller
was not the first attempt to bring the famous Lord Greystoke to the
small screen. In 1958, Gordon Scott (who had portrayed the Ape-Man
in the movies) was packaged into an unsold pilot by Sol Lesser
Productions. Actress Eve Brent co-starred as Jane and Rickie
Sorenson was featured as “Boy.” Unable to find an advertiser to
sponsor the proposed series, however, this production sat on the
shelf unwatched for a time until it was cut into a theatrical film
and released as “Tarzan and the Trappers.”

Tarzan would make his second attempt at TV a few years later, via
the efforts of producer Sy Weintraub who took over producing the
Tarzan theatrical films from Lesser in1958. Originally, hunky Mike
Henry, who was then starring as Tarzan in the movies, was set to do
the TV series as well.

But, after three theatrical films, shot and location, and enduring
injury, illness and various natural disasters, as well as a nasty
chimp bite to his face, Henry decided he had had enough and hung up
his loincloth.

Unfortunately, cameras were already to roll on the TV production
when Henry exited. Weintraub had to scramble to quickly find a
replacement.

Luckily, long, lean, six-foot-four Ron Ely, has already been signed
to play a Tarzan imposter for an upcoming episode. Ely was quickly
promoted from Tarzan imposter to the real thing and the series got
underway.

TV's Tarzan

Up until that time, Ely--who, ironically, had been auditioned for
the role of Tarzan before Mike Henry was hired—had mainly eked out a
career in TV guest spots and on the short-lived underwater adventure
series “The Aquanauts” (1960-61). “Tarzan,” of course, would become
Ely’s career-defining role and his approach to the character fit in
well with the TV production’s new “take” on the famous jungle-man as
well.

The TV Tarzan would no longer be the mono-syllabic mister of some
earlier media treatments, the one that was later musically
criticized by Crash Test Dummies in their 1991 song “Superman Song”
(“Tarzan was king of the jungle and Lord over all the apes/But he
could hardly string together four words: ‘I Tarzan, You Jane.’”).
Ely’s Tarzan was a learned Lord who had returned to the jungle to
defend and protect the jungle, its people and wildlife.

But as civilized as the character was this time around, shooting for
the program remained difficult. The first five episodes of the new
series were shot in Brazil before the company moved to Mexico, both
standing in for Africa. (Back in Tarzan’s early film days in the
1930s, the films were usually shot on MGM’s back lot in Hollywood.)
Both foreign locations, however, offered their own problems. As
detailed in Gabe Esso’s 1968 “Tarzan of the Movies” book, the actors
and TV crew encountered torrential rains, insect invasions, flash
floods, intense heat and humidity and dysentery. It took five
months to film the series’s first five episodes.

Causing some additional problems was the athletic Ely’s brave
willingness to do many of his own stunts and to act himself opposite
his giant animal co-stars. In doing so, bites and other bodily
injuries became the norm for the actor.

A case in point: not long after the series moved to Mexico, Ely was
performing one of Tarzan’s characteristic vine-swinging moves when
he slipped and fell 20 feet to the ground, landing on his shoulder.
Production had to be halted for a week as Ely underwent surgery.
The injury and subsequent operation left a scar on Ely’s shoulder
which is visible in many head and shoulder shots of the actor. Two
cameras caught Ely’s fall and the footage was later incorporated
into an episode.

By the end of the first season, Ely had suffered 17 significant
injuries to his legs, feet, chest, arms, and face. Among the wounds
were a torn muscle, a dislocated jaw and a broken nose.
In one early stunt, Ely was singed on his limbs when he was
required to run between some burning huts.

Ely’s commitment (though it cost the produces majorly in insurance
for the star) paid off. Many of the stunts and other action
sequences from the series hold up stunningly well when viewed today.


In fact, the entire series, when re-watched, remains an enjoyable
achievement. Though some of the animal footage inserted into some
episodes bear the tell-tale graininess of heavily-recycled stock
footage, other shots and stunts and set pieces remain impressive and
surprisingly cinematic. There are stunning shots of crowd scenes,
expansive vistas and great waterfalls.

Furthermore, during the show’s lifespan, the program welcomed to the
jungle an impressive number of guest stars including: Julie Harris,
The Supremes (who portray a trio of nuns and perform a lovely
rendition of “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore”), Helen Hayes, Suzy
Parker, Ethel Merman, Fernando Lamas, James Whitmore, Sam Jaffe,
Maurice Evans, James Earl Jones, Tammy Grimes, Nichelle Nichols, Gia
Scala, Sally Kellerman, George Kennedy and, once, Jock Mahoney, who
had played Tarzan on the big screen in two features, from 1962 and
1963.

Just before TV’s “Tarzan” began, its producers secured some strong
publicity by gathering together for a photo op some of film’s former
Tarzans including Mahoney, James H. Pierce and Johnny Weissmuller.
(Years later, Ely would return the favor when he guested starred on
the 1991-1994 syndicated reboot of “Tarzan,” this one starring Wolf
Larson in the title role.)

The 1960s incarnation also paid tribute to its predecessors in other
ways as well. The famous “Tarzan” call that opens every episode of
the series was actually a re-use of Weissmuller’s original
recording.

“Tarzan” premiered over NBC on September 8, 1966. Though the show
debuted on a Thursday, it quickly moved to Friday nights where it
would remain for the rest of its original run.

Despite the high-recognizability and longevity of the “Tarzan”
“brand,” this TV version of the Ape-man wasn’t much of a hit when it
debuted. Its first episode ranked #51 in the ratings--good by
today’s standards but poor for the then only-three-network universe
of the 1960s.

But, despite only so-so ratings, greater investigation into the
show’s demographics inspired NBC to stick with the series. It seems
that “Tarzan’s” biggest fans were not action-adventure seeking males
but women ages 18-34. In fact, “Tarzan” was the favorite show for
all women in the age group which might give a new meaning to the
term “jungle fever”!

Surprisingly though, even with that fan devotion and considering how
iconic Ely would become in the role, this TV “Tarzan” series only
aired for two seasons, 1966-67 and 1967-68.

But, as often happens, the program found a second life in
syndication. With no (or few) clothes or cars to make the episodes
look dated, the series retains a timelessness long after it ceased
production. Furthermore, its viewer appeal was able to transcend
various other qualifiers: both kids and adults found the show
enjoyable and, as we’ve seen, it managed to also bridge the gender
gap as well.

“Tarzan,” as a series, was even able to withstand many latter-day
accusations of racism. In his 1992 book, “Blacks in White TV,” J.
Fred MacDonald levels accusations at the program’s general premise
of a white man taking on the role of a protector for all of Africa
and, by extension, all African people.

All in all, though, while such an argument may not be without its
truthfulness, TV’s first “Tarzan” usually shows it lead character as
highly respectful of his fellow African citizens and their customs.

Furthermore, it is hard to argue with the series’s pro-environmental
stance—throughout the series, Tarzan/Ely takes on a variety of
poachers and big-game hunters, not to mention his almost weekly
battle against would-be thieves and looters.

Overseas, the “Tarzan” series proved popular enough and of high-
enough quality to twice see two two-part episodes edited together
and released as theatrical films. One of them (“Tarzan’s Deadly
Silence”) was screened last year in at theater at the Library of
Congress.

After his time in the jungle, Ely would never return to the airwaves
in another series. He kept busy in guest spots and in some
theatrical films, most notably essaying the title role in 1975’s
“Doc Savage.” He has also acted as a TV host on the syndicated TV
game show “Face the Music” (1980-81) and as the host of the “Miss
America” pageant (replacing Bert Parks) in 1980 and 1981. Today,
along with the occasional acting role, he is also a novelist.

Still, even among those achievements, and despite the many other men
who have since enacted the legendary role of the Lord of the Apes
(including the aforementioned Larson and Casper Van Dien, Alexander
Skarsgard, Miles O’Keefe, and Joe Lara), on the big and small
screens, Ely remains, to date, our last truly significant, true
“Tarzan.”
--
Dems & the media want Trump to be more like Obama, but then he'd
have to audit liberals & wire tap reporters' phones.
anim8rfsk
2017-10-11 15:28:19 UTC
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Post by Ubiquitous
by Cary O'Dell
After considerable success in book form, in the comics, on the big
screen and even, believe it or not, on radio, it makes perfect sense
that the Lord of the Jungle would eventually swing into television.
The TV incarnation of Tarzan was played by Ron Ely, the 15th actor
to take on the role. But Ely’s version of the famous jungle-dweller
was not the first attempt to bring the famous Lord Greystoke to the
small screen. In 1958, Gordon Scott (who had portrayed the Ape-Man
in the movies) was packaged into an unsold pilot by Sol Lesser
Productions. Actress Eve Brent co-starred as Jane and Rickie
Sorenson was featured as “Boy.” Unable to find an advertiser to
sponsor the proposed series, however, this production sat on the
shelf unwatched for a time until it was cut into a theatrical film
and released as “Tarzan and the Trappers.”
Tarzan would make his second attempt at TV a few years later, via
the efforts of producer Sy Weintraub who took over producing the
Tarzan theatrical films from Lesser in1958. Originally, hunky Mike
Henry, who was then starring as Tarzan in the movies, was set to do
the TV series as well.
But, after three theatrical films, shot and location, and enduring
injury, illness and various natural disasters, as well as a nasty
chimp bite to his face, Henry decided he had had enough and hung up
his loincloth.
Unfortunately, cameras were already to roll on the TV production
when Henry exited. Weintraub had to scramble to quickly find a
replacement.
Luckily, long, lean, six-foot-four Ron Ely, has already been signed
He's a LOT taller than that. He's the tallest person I've ever met. He
played *down* his height to get roles.
Post by Ubiquitous
to play a Tarzan imposter for an upcoming episode. Ely was quickly
promoted from Tarzan imposter to the real thing and the series got
underway.
TV's Tarzan
Up until that time, Ely--who, ironically, had been auditioned for
the role of Tarzan before Mike Henry was hired—had mainly eked out a
career in TV guest spots and on the short-lived underwater adventure
series “The Aquanauts” (1960-61). “Tarzan,” of course, would become
Ely’s career-defining role and his approach to the character fit in
well with the TV production’s new “take” on the famous jungle-man as
well.
The TV Tarzan would no longer be the mono-syllabic mister of some
earlier media treatments, the one that was later musically
criticized by Crash Test Dummies in their 1991 song “Superman Song”
(“Tarzan was king of the jungle and Lord over all the apes/But he
could hardly string together four words: ‘I Tarzan, You Jane.’”).
Ely’s Tarzan was a learned Lord who had returned to the jungle to
defend and protect the jungle, its people and wildlife.
I don't believe that's canon for the series, unless it's unaired
backstory.
Post by Ubiquitous
But as civilized as the character was this time around, shooting for
the program remained difficult. The first five episodes of the new
series were shot in Brazil before the company moved to Mexico, both
standing in for Africa. (Back in Tarzan’s early film days in the
1930s, the films were usually shot on MGM’s back lot in Hollywood.)
Both foreign locations, however, offered their own problems. As
detailed in Gabe Esso’s 1968 “Tarzan of the Movies” book, the actors
and TV crew encountered torrential rains, insect invasions, flash
floods, intense heat and humidity and dysentery. It took five
months to film the series’s first five episodes.
Causing some additional problems was the athletic Ely’s brave
willingness to do many of his own stunts and to act himself opposite
his giant animal co-stars. In doing so, bites and other bodily
injuries became the norm for the actor.
A case in point: not long after the series moved to Mexico, Ely was
performing one of Tarzan’s characteristic vine-swinging moves when
he slipped and fell 20 feet to the ground, landing on his shoulder.
Production had to be halted for a week as Ely underwent surgery.
The injury and subsequent operation left a scar on Ely’s shoulder
which is visible in many head and shoulder shots of the actor. Two
cameras caught Ely’s fall and the footage was later incorporated
into an episode.
By the end of the first season, Ely had suffered 17 significant
injuries to his legs, feet, chest, arms, and face. Among the wounds
were a torn muscle, a dislocated jaw and a broken nose.
In one early stunt, Ely was singed on his limbs when he was
required to run between some burning huts.
Ely’s commitment (though it cost the produces majorly in insurance
for the star) paid off. Many of the stunts and other action
sequences from the series hold up stunningly well when viewed today.
In fact, the entire series, when re-watched, remains an enjoyable
achievement. Though some of the animal footage inserted into some
episodes bear the tell-tale graininess of heavily-recycled stock
footage, other shots and stunts and set pieces remain impressive and
surprisingly cinematic. There are stunning shots of crowd scenes,
expansive vistas and great waterfalls.
Furthermore, during the show’s lifespan, the program welcomed to the
jungle an impressive number of guest stars including: Julie Harris,
The Supremes (who portray a trio of nuns and perform a lovely
rendition of “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore”), Helen Hayes, Suzy
Parker, Ethel Merman, Fernando Lamas, James Whitmore, Sam Jaffe,
Maurice Evans, James Earl Jones, Tammy Grimes, Nichelle Nichols, Gia
Scala, Sally Kellerman, George Kennedy and, once, Jock Mahoney, who
Once? Jock did FOUR episodes, as three different characters!
Post by Ubiquitous
had played Tarzan on the big screen in two features, from 1962 and
1963.
Just before TV’s “Tarzan” began, its producers secured some strong
publicity by gathering together for a photo op some of film’s former
Tarzans including Mahoney, James H. Pierce and Johnny Weissmuller.
(Years later, Ely would return the favor when he guested starred on
the 1991-1994 syndicated reboot of “Tarzan,” this one starring Wolf
Larson in the title role.)
The 1960s incarnation also paid tribute to its predecessors in other
ways as well. The famous “Tarzan” call that opens every episode of
the series was actually a re-use of Weissmuller’s original
recording.
“Tarzan” premiered over NBC on September 8, 1966. Though the show
debuted on a Thursday, it quickly moved to Friday nights where it
would remain for the rest of its original run.
Despite the high-recognizability and longevity of the “Tarzan”
“brand,” this TV version of the Ape-man wasn’t much of a hit when it
debuted. Its first episode ranked #51 in the ratings--good by
today’s standards but poor for the then only-three-network universe
of the 1960s.
But, despite only so-so ratings, greater investigation into the
show’s demographics inspired NBC to stick with the series. It seems
that “Tarzan’s” biggest fans were not action-adventure seeking males
but women ages 18-34. In fact, “Tarzan” was the favorite show for
all women in the age group which might give a new meaning to the
term “jungle fever”!
Surprisingly though, even with that fan devotion and considering how
iconic Ely would become in the role, this TV “Tarzan” series only
aired for two seasons, 1966-67 and 1967-68.
But, as often happens, the program found a second life in
syndication. With no (or few) clothes or cars to make the episodes
look dated, the series retains a timelessness long after it ceased
production. Furthermore, its viewer appeal was able to transcend
various other qualifiers: both kids and adults found the show
enjoyable and, as we’ve seen, it managed to also bridge the gender
gap as well.
“Tarzan,” as a series, was even able to withstand many latter-day
accusations of racism. In his 1992 book, “Blacks in White TV,” J.
Fred MacDonald levels accusations at the program’s general premise
of a white man taking on the role of a protector for all of Africa
and, by extension, all African people.
All in all, though, while such an argument may not be without its
truthfulness, TV’s first “Tarzan” usually shows it lead character as
highly respectful of his fellow African citizens and their customs.
Furthermore, it is hard to argue with the series’s pro-environmental
stance—throughout the series, Tarzan/Ely takes on a variety of
poachers and big-game hunters, not to mention his almost weekly
battle against would-be thieves and looters.
Overseas, the “Tarzan” series proved popular enough and of high-
enough quality to twice see two two-part episodes edited together
and released as theatrical films. One of them (“Tarzan’s Deadly
Silence”) was screened last year in at theater at the Library of
Congress.
After his time in the jungle, Ely would never return to the airwaves
in another series.
Except for, you know, the lead role as Mike Nelson in the revival of SEA
HUNT.

He kept busy in guest spots and in some
Post by Ubiquitous
theatrical films, most notably essaying the title role in 1975’s
“Doc Savage.” He has also acted as a TV host on the syndicated TV
game show “Face the Music” (1980-81) and as the host of the “Miss
America” pageant (replacing Bert Parks) in 1980 and 1981. Today,
along with the occasional acting role, he is also a novelist.
Still, even among those achievements, and despite the many other men
who have since enacted the legendary role of the Lord of the Apes
(including the aforementioned Larson and Casper Van Dien, Alexander
Skarsgard, Miles O’Keefe, and Joe Lara), on the big and small
screens, Ely remains, to date, our last truly significant, true
“Tarzan.”
--
Join your old RAT friends at
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1688985234647266/
A Friend
2017-10-11 17:43:52 UTC
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Post by anim8rfsk
Post by Ubiquitous
The TV Tarzan would no longer be the mono-syllabic mister of some
earlier media treatments, the one that was later musically
criticized by Crash Test Dummies in their 1991 song ?Superman Song?
(?Tarzan was king of the jungle and Lord over all the apes/But he
could hardly string together four words: ?I Tarzan, You Jane.??).
Ely?s Tarzan was a learned Lord who had returned to the jungle to
defend and protect the jungle, its people and wildlife.
I don't believe that's canon for the series, unless it's unaired
backstory.
I remember reading about this at the time the series was on. It may
have been mentioned in the first episode.
Post by anim8rfsk
Post by Ubiquitous
After his time in the jungle, Ely would never return to the airwaves
in another series.
Except for, you know, the lead role as Mike Nelson in the revival of SEA
HUNT.
Some of us also remember him for being one of the few to have played
Superman on TV. (Okay, okay. "Old Superboy.")
Adam H. Kerman
2017-10-11 22:06:59 UTC
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Post by anim8rfsk
http://www.tvparty.com/fall-tarzan.html
Ubi, stop hiding the URL in your headers. I owe you a "fuck you"; remind me.
Post by anim8rfsk
by Cary O'Dell
. . .
Luckily, long, lean, six-foot-four Ron Ely, has already been signed
He's a LOT taller than that. He's the tallest person I've ever met. He
played *down* his height to get roles.
Huh. I thought he was 6' 6", but IMDb sez 6' 4 1/2". Nothing in IMDb
is a lie, otherwise Ian would correct it.
anim8rfsk
2017-10-12 00:06:48 UTC
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Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by anim8rfsk
http://www.tvparty.com/fall-tarzan.html
Ubi, stop hiding the URL in your headers. I owe you a "fuck you"; remind me.
Post by anim8rfsk
by Cary O'Dell
. . .
Luckily, long, lean, six-foot-four Ron Ely, has already been signed
He's a LOT taller than that. He's the tallest person I've ever met. He
played *down* his height to get roles.
Huh. I thought he was 6' 6", but IMDb sez 6' 4 1/2". Nothing in IMDb
is a lie, otherwise Ian would correct it.
hee hee

IIRC he's 6'6" or 6'7" and his son is 6'9"! Something like that. He
ducked coming in the huge main entry doors to the hotel at the Doc
Savage Convention. He said in his talk that he had to lie about his
height to get work, and he was telling his son that he was so tall it
was going to be a problem to be an actor.
--
Join your old RAT friends at
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1688985234647266/
Ubiquitous
2017-10-16 11:51:36 UTC
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Post by anim8rfsk
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by anim8rfsk
Post by Ubiquitous
Luckily, long, lean, six-foot-four Ron Ely, has already been signed
He's a LOT taller than that. He's the tallest person I've ever met. He
played *down* his height to get roles.
Huh. I thought he was 6' 6", but IMDb sez 6' 4 1/2". Nothing in IMDb
is a lie, otherwise Ian would correct it.
hee hee
IIRC he's 6'6" or 6'7" and his son is 6'9"! Something like that. He
ducked coming in the huge main entry doors to the hotel at the Doc
Savage Convention. He said in his talk that he had to lie about his
height to get work, and he was telling his son that he was so tall it
was going to be a problem to be an actor.
Learn to act in a trench?
--
Dems & the media want Trump to be more like Obama, but then he'd
have to audit liberals & wire tap reporters' phones.
anim8rfsk
2017-10-16 14:45:44 UTC
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Post by Ubiquitous
Post by anim8rfsk
Post by Adam H. Kerman
Post by anim8rfsk
Post by Ubiquitous
Luckily, long, lean, six-foot-four Ron Ely, has already been signed
He's a LOT taller than that. He's the tallest person I've ever met. He
played *down* his height to get roles.
Huh. I thought he was 6' 6", but IMDb sez 6' 4 1/2". Nothing in IMDb
is a lie, otherwise Ian would correct it.
hee hee
IIRC he's 6'6" or 6'7" and his son is 6'9"! Something like that. He
ducked coming in the huge main entry doors to the hotel at the Doc
Savage Convention. He said in his talk that he had to lie about his
height to get work, and he was telling his son that he was so tall it
was going to be a problem to be an actor.
Learn to act in a trench?
hee hee
--
Join your old RAT friends at
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1688985234647266/
j***@gmail.com
2017-10-11 22:28:34 UTC
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Correction, the man who was called Face the Music played Tarzan. He is known by most of us game show fans as the man who hosted The Ron Ely Show in 1980-1981. Can anyone else tell me about the man named Face the Music?
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