Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) with Maureen O'Sullivan and Johnny Weissmuller
Publication of Tarzan of the Apes (1912)
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"Then I am to take it that Monsieur Tarzan would prefer to go naked into the jungle, armed only with a jackknife, to kill the king of beasts," laughed the other good-naturedly, but with the merest touch of sarcasm in his tone. 'And a piece of rope,' added Tarzan.”
~ Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes, 1912
Tarzan of the Apes, a character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, is known for his strength, speed, stamina, agility, reflexes, senses, flexibility, durability, endurance, and swimming skills, which are extraordinary in comparison to normal men. He has wrestled full grown bulls, apes and gorillas, lions, rhinos, crocodiles, pythons, sharks, tigers, man-size seahorses and even dinosaurs! The 8 bar phrases in this dance might correspond to a relatively slow day in Tarzan's life and are annotated thusly: Monkeys collecting bananas; Weaving snakes; Chasing tigers; Monkeys Swinging in the trees; And Tigers chasing prey! Not forgetting a bow and curtsey ... It's a jungle out there, folks! 🐘🐅🐒🐍
The Jungle Jig
Created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan first appeared in the novel Tarzan of the Apes (published in the pulp magazine All-Story Magazine, in 1912) and subsequently in twenty-five sequels, several authorized books by other authors, and innumerable works in other media.
Tarzan's story starts with his birth as John Clayton, Vicount Greystoke, the son of a British lord and lady who are marooned on the Atlantic coast of Africa by mutineers. While only an infant, his mother dies, and his father is killed by Kerchak, leader of the ape tribe by whom the baby is later adopted. From then onwards, Tarzan becomes a feral child and son to Kala, his ape mother, who gives him his ape name. Later referred to as the Earl of Greystoke in later, by less canonical sources, notably the 1984 movie Greystoke, Tarzan travels to his ancestral seat in Scotland.
Tarzan is known for his strength, speed, stamina, agility, reflexes, senses, flexibility, durability, endurance, and swimming skills, which are extraordinary in comparison to normal men. He has wrestled full grown bulls, apes and gorillas, lions, rhinos, crocodiles, pythons, sharks, tigers, man-size seahorses and even dinosaurs (when he visits Pellucidar, Burroughs' fictional hollow earth).
For more about Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author, who died in 1950 and is buried in Tarzana, California, click Tarzan giving his famous yell below. Note: Tarzana, a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, is on the site of a former ranch owned by Edgar Rice Burroughs and is named after his jungle hero.
Note that in the dance "The Jungle Jig," the phrases correspond to what might be a typical day for Tarzan:
1-8 Monkeys collecting Bananas
9-16 Weaving snakes
17-20 Charging tigers
21-24 Monkeys in the trees
25-32 Tigers chasing prey
A day like that would be enough to make anyone yell like Tarzan, translated to the silver screen by actor Johnny Weissmuller roughly transcribed as “Aah-eeh-ah-eeh-aaaaaah-eeh-ah-eeh-aaaaah!”
The yell was first introduced in the pages of Tarzan of the Apes, the 1912 novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, where he described it as sounding like “the victory cry of the bull ape.”
MGM, the studio that made the first Tarzan movies with Weissmuller, claimed to enhanced a vocal yell in post-production by adding and mixing in the following:
1. A second track of Weismuller’s voice, amplified
2. A track of a hyena howl, played backwards
3. A note sung by a female opera soprano, with the speed varied to produce a fluttery sound
4. The growl of a dog
5. The bleat of a camel
6. The raspy note of a violin’s G-string being bowed
Another bit of movie lore claims that a famous operatic tenor was hired to record the yell, and the tape was then manipulated and run backwards, so that the second half of the yell was the first half in reverse. In any case ...