10 Things You Might Not Know About Tarzan

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Everyone knows Tarzan, but how many people know the real Lord of the Jungle? Last month, the ubiquitous figure turned a whopping 100, and to celebrate his legacy, Edgar Rice Burroughs expert Scott Tracy Griffin has collected an enormous, glossy volume filled with rare art, movie stills, and insights on every corner of the Tarzan universe. With Tarzan The Centennial Celebration hitting shelves this week, Griffin has put together a list of a few things your average moviegoer might not know about Burroughs’ creation, complete with a set of exclusive images from the book. Start swinging from vines (er, branches) like a pro after the jump.

He’s multi-lingual

“Film Tarzans usually grunt a few mono-syllabic commands to convey their intent, but Burroughs’ Tarzan taught himself to read using the children’s books in his dead parents’ cabin, and learned a succession of languages, including French, English, German, and Dutch, in his adventures spanning 24 novels.”

Photo: Tarzan™ & © 2012 ERB, Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

He lived in a cabin, not a treehouse

“Though his favorite naptime perch was curled up in the crotch of a tall tree, Tarzan’s refuge was the small cabin built by his dead parents. He later resided in a ranch house on a sprawling estate that seemed to encompass most of British East Africa, his birthright as Lord Greystoke.”

Photo: Tarzan™ & © 2012 ERB, Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

He married Jane Porter, a blonde Southern belle from Baltimore

“Maureen O’Sullivan’s interpretation of Jane is beloved by fans, but the petite brunette’s common-law cohabitation with Tarzan was not reflected in the books. To satisfy convention, Burroughs had the couple properly married by Jane’s father, an ordained minister, in The Return of Tarzan.”

Photo: Tarzan™ & © 2012 ERB, Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

He claimed his hereditary title

“When Tarzan leaves the jungle in pursuit of Jane, his identity as the heir to the title Lord Greystoke is established. He spends several years in London living a civilized life following his marriage to Jane.”

Photo: Tarzan™ & © 2012 ERB, Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

He had a son named Jack Clayton

“MGM’s Tarzan and Jane had to adopt ‘Boy’ onscreen, since they were never married and censors wouldn’t allow a biological child. The happy couple procreated in the usual fashion in Burroughs’ novels; at age 10, their son Jack ran away to Africa, earning the sobriquet ‘Korak the Killer’ during his own adventures among the apes in The Son of Tarzan.”

Photo: Tarzan™ & © 2012 ERB, Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

He was fabulously rich

“Unlike Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan, who eschewed civilized wealth for fresh fruit, lots of swimming, and the companionship of Cheeta and Jane, Burroughs’ Tarzan was well aware of the power of money, and tapped the gold treasuries of the lost city of Opar whenever he needed a little pocket money.”

Photo: Tarzan™ & © 2012 ERB, Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

Branches, not vines

“Like apes, Tarzan brachiated branch-to-branch, not trusting his bulk to some vine (which was really a conveniently placed rope on those studio lots).”

Photo: Tarzan™ & © 2012 ERB, Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

He didn’t yodel

“Tarzan gave the ‘victory cry of the great bull ape’ whenever he made a kill in the novels, but Burroughs left the precise nature of this terrifying, inhuman sound to the imagination of his readers. Tarzan’s onscreen yell had its genesis in star Weissmuller’s Alpine yodeling skills, which were sweetened by studio sound engineers.”

Photo: Tarzan™ & © 2012 ERB, Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

He wasn’t friends with all the jungle animals

“Burroughs’ Tarzan got along well with elephants, monkeys, and most species of ape, but routinely engaged in mortal hand-to-fang combat with lions, leopards, crocodiles, pythons, and other hungry predators, who wouldn’t always turn tail and slink away at the command to ‘Umgawa!'”

Photo: Tarzan™ & © 2012 ERB, Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

He had native backup

“Tarzan of the books didn’t have to rely on the whims of the local fauna for rescue; he had the well-armed Waziri warriors, a fierce, martial tribe who adopted him as one of their own in The Return of Tarzan.”

Photo: Tarzan™ & © 2012 ERB, Inc.. All Rights Reserved.