11 Things You Didn’t Know About Tarzan

1. Originally, Tarzan’s elephant friend Tantor, was supposed to be an adult, but filmmakers later decided that he should be a kid like Terk and Tarzan

2. The voice actor for Tantor was only four years old and could not read at the time, so he had to have the lines read to him

3. Phil Collins wrote most of his famous song, featured in Tarzan, called “You’ll Be in My Heart”, on the back of wrapping paper, while he was at a Christmas party

4. It took the filmmakers three years, before they could all decide on what opening sequence to use

5. Before attacking Tarzan and his friends, Sabor was hiding camouflaged in the jungle, and can be seen if you watch closely

6. The baboon chase scene, was one of the first scenes in the film to be animated, because it was so complex and required so many animators

7. Terk is an original Disney character, as there is no mention of her in the book Jungle Tales of Tarzan

8. This was the first film about Tarzan to have a one-word title

9. Tarzan’s signature yell is actually voiced by the voice actor of the villain, Clayton

10. Animators used Tony Hawk’s movement on a skateboard as a reference for Tarzan’s movement sliding down logs

11. This was the first Disney animated film to win an Academy Award, since Pocahontas

The Creation of “Tarzan”

Tarzan is one of the most famous and long-lived characters in popular fiction, a jungle adventure hero who has appeared in many novels and movies. Created by American author Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan first appeared in a magazine story in 1912. Its popularity led to the publication of the novel Tarzan of the Apes (1914) and a series of successful sequels reportedly sold over 25 million copies of his worldwide. Burroughs was born in Chicago in 1875 and was raised to join the U.S. 7th Cavalry, but was discharged in 1897 after being diagnosed with heart disease. Burroughs had various jobs, including working on a ranch, prospecting for gold, and selling pencil sharpeners. After he read many articles in pulp magazines, Burroughs felt he could write as well as some of the writers he had discovered. He began writing under Norman Bean’s pseudonym, but Burroughs quickly embraced the venture. 

Burroughs’ novel tells in colorful, flashy prose how Tarzan, the son of an English aristocrat, is abandoned in the jungles of Africa and raised for adoption by a tribe of great apes. Throughout a series of unlikely but exciting adventures, he learns English, meets and falls in love with Jane, the daughter of an American scientist, and regains his title.  In early 1912, he published the first John Carter story, Under the Moons of Mars, in All-Story Magazine. John Carter is a man from Earth who was transported to Mars. More robust and faster in the low gravity of the red planet, Carter becomes a hero, falling in love with the red Martian Princess Dejah Thoris and befriending the four-armed green Martian warrior Tars Tarkas.

 But Burroughs’ real breakthrough character was Tarzan of the Apes. The story began as an all-tale series in the fall of 1912, featuring most known parts of the character’s origins. Tarzan is John Clayton II, heir to the title Earl of Greystoke. An orphan boy who was shipwrecked in Africa and lost his parents was raised by monkeys. Tarzan the Ape was made into a silent film in 1918, starring Elmo Lincoln as the first film’s ape-man with his lantern jaw. Since then, more than a dozen actors have made their way through the trees as Tarzan. The most famous actor is former Olympic swimming champion Johnny Weissmuller. Tarzan was also the hero of popular American comics and the protagonist of numerous radio and television adventures. 

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