Tarzan (1966 TV series)
Manuel Padilla, Jr.
|Country of origin||USA|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||57|
|Executive producer(s)||Sy Weintraub|
|Running time||60 mins.|
|Production company(s)||Banner Productions|
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television|
|Original release||September 8, 1966 – April 5, 1968|
Tarzan is a series that aired on NBC from 1966 – 1968. The series portrayed Tarzan (played by Ron Ely) as a well-educated character, one who, tired of civilization, had returned to the jungle where he had been raised. The show retained many of the trappings of the classic movie series, including Cheeta, while excluding other elements, such as Jane, as part of the "new look" for the fabled apeman that producer Sy Weintraub had introduced in previous motion pictures starring Gordon Scott, Jock Mahoney, and Mike Henry. CBS aired repeat episodes the program during the summer of 1969.
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Mike Henry had just filmed several big-screen adventures as Tarzan in Brazil and was slated to play the lead in the TV series, but backed out due to disagreements with producer Sy Weintraub over the use of wild animals and lack of safety protocols. Ron Ely was originally to have played a Tarzan impostor in a proposed episode of the TV series, but took over the lead role.
Like Jock Mahoney, Ely performed his own stunts when playing Tarzan. Unlike Mahoney, Ely was not a professional stuntman and sustained seventeen different injuries during the first season. These included singeing his arms and legs running through a burning village (Village of Fire); being bitten in the forehead by a "tame" lion (in a later fight with the same lion, Ely was bitten on the lower left thigh); falling down a hill and ripping the skin off the tops of his feet; falling twenty-five feet off a vine and separating his shoulder; and falling off another vine and breaking his other shoulder, fracturing three ribs and spraining both wrists.
In September 1966, former screen Tarzans James Pierce (1927), Johnny Weissmuller (1932–1948), and Jock Mahoney (1962–1963) appeared with Ron Ely as part of the publicity for the upcoming premier of the TV series. Weissmuller was approached to guest star as Tarzan's father, but nothing came of it. Joseph C. Pohler, who as Gene Pollar had portrayed Tarzan in a 1920 film and was in 1966 the "oldest living Tarzan," complained in tongue-in-cheek fashion that he had not been invited to the publicity event because producers had assumed he was dead.
Ely made his directorial debut with the second-season episode Hotel Hurricane, which was a re-working of the 1948 film noir classic Key Largo, with the action transplanted from Florida Keys to the African jungle.
Theatrical Motion Picture Versions
Several two-part episodes were later re-edited into theatrical motion pictures, released through National General Pictures:
- "The Blue Stone of Heaven" was released as Tarzan’s Jungle Rebellion in 1967; "The Blue Stone of Heaven" also served as the pilot for the series and was later aired as a 2-part story in the 2nd Season.
- "The Four O’Clock Army" was released as Tarzan and the Four O’clock War in March 1968
- "The Deadly Silence" was released as Tarzan’s Deadly Silence in July 1970
- "The Perils of Charity Jones" was released as Tarzan and the Perils of Charity Jones in October 1971.
- Tarzan .... Ron Ely (pictured)
- Jai .... Manuel Padilla, Jr.
- Jason Flood .... Alan Caillou
- Rao .... Rockne Tarkington
- Pat Conway appeared as Colonel Stone in the 1968 episode "The Professional". He earlier had been Sheriff Clay Hollister on ABC's Tombstone Territory western series.
- Gregg Palmer, primarily a western actor, appeared three times on Tarzan, as Cookie in "Captain Jai", German in Dream in "The Circus" (both 1967), and as Haines in "Trek to Terror" (1968)
- Chill Wills guest-starred in the 1968 episode "The End of the Challenge". Wills also appeared with Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O'Sullivan, and Johnny Sheffield in the 1942 MGM film Tarzan's New York Adventure.
- Guest stars included current or future Academy Award winners Nancy Malone, George Kennedy, and Helen Hayes who made a rare television appearance when she co-starred with her son James MacArthur in the 1968 episode "The Pride of the Lioness".
- The 1967 episode The Golden Runaway was the third to last screen appearance of Gia Scala prior to her suicide.
- Child actor Victoria Paige Meyerink, who appeared in the 1967 episode "Jungle Dragnet", and veteran character actor Jack Elam, who appeared in the 1967 episode "The Circus", co-starred with Ron Ely in the 1966 western film The Night of the Grizzly.
- John M. Pickard, formerly of the western series Boots and Saddles, appeared as Elson in "Trek to Terror" (1968).
- Don Megowan, who appeared with Ron Ely in the 1966 episode "The Ultimate Duel", also appeared in the 1966 film Tarzan and the Valley of Gold with Mike Henry.
- Carlos Rivas, who appeared in episodes "The Ultimate Duel" and "Pearls of Tanga", played the renegade Mayan shaman Kulkan in the 1975 camp action movie Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze starring Ron Ely.
- Diana Ross and The Supremes play three nuns in the 1968 episode "The Convert" with James Earl Jones as a Tribal Chief.
Renowned Shakespearean actor Maurice Evans would have a recurring guest-starring role as retired Brigadier Sir Basil Bertram, hero of the Battle of the Bulge. American stage actress Julie Harris had a recurring guest-starring role as missionary Charity Jones. Veteran Australian actor Chips Rafferty had a recurring guest-starring role as Dutch Jensen.
The following actors made multiple appearances in different roles: Jock Mahoney, Woody Strode, Rockne Tarkington, William Marshall, George Murdock, Robert J. Wilke, Gene Evans, Michael Whitney, Jill Donohue, Strother Martin, Bernie Hamilton, Michael Pate, Lloyd Haynes, Barbara Bouchet, Harry Lauter, Simon Oakland, John Anderson, James Earl Jones, Robert DoQui, Geoffrey Holder, Gregg Palmer, Jacques Aubuchon
Season 1: 1966–67
Season 2: 1967–68
On March 13, 2012, Warner Bros. released Tarzan: Season 1, Part 1 & Tarzan: Season 1, Part 2 on DVD in region 1 via their Warner Archive Collection. These are manufacture-on-demand (MOD) releases, available exclusively through Warner's online store and only in the US.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tarzan (1966 TV series).|
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