Nick Leshi

Nick Leshi
Bronx, New York, United States of America
December 13
Writer, actor, media professional, fan of entertainment, pop culture, and speculative fiction. Contact for more info.


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NOVEMBER 24, 2012 3:56PM

The Many Faces of Tarzan

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Best known for his role as the vampire Eric in True Blood, actor Alexander Skarsgard is rumored to be in the running to play Tarzan in the latest incarnation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Ape Man. He will join a long list of actors who have brought the legendary character to life.

Elmo Lincoln was the first to don the loincloth in a couple of early silent movies, Tarzan the Ape Man and The Romance of Tarzan, both in 1918.  In 1921, he played the role again in the movie serial The Adventures of Tarzan. Yes, the first Tarzan was named Elmo.

Gene Pollar was a firefighter who played the Lord of the Jungle in 1920's The Revenge of Tarzan.

James Pierce was actually married to Burroughs' daughter and starred in 1927's Tarzan and the Golden Lion. He also played the voice of Tarzan on national radio in the early 1930s.

Frank Merrill started out as a Tarzan stunt double and then had the chance to be the star in the 1928 movie serial Tarzan the Mighty. He played Tarzan again in 1929's Tarzan the Tiger.

Johnny Weismuller was an Olympic swimmer who became the most famous Tarzan of all, starring in 1932's Tarzan the Ape Man and eleven sequels (Tarzan and His Mate, Tarzan Escapes, Tarzan Finds a Son, Tarzan's Secret Adventure, Tarzan's New York Adventure, Tarzan Triumphs, Tarzan's Desert Mystery, Tarzan and the Amazons, Tarzan and the Leopard Women, Tarzan and the Huntress, and Tarzan and the Mermaids)!

Buster Crabbe starred in the 1932 movie serial Tarzan the Fearless.

Herman Brix could have been a superstar. He was originally considered for the role of Tarzan, but an injury kept him from doing it, so the role went to none other than Johnny Weissmuller. Brix settled for the low-budget The New Adventures of Tarzan in 1935 from which they re-edited Tarzan and the Green Goddess in 1938.

Glenn Morris may not be a memorable name in show biz, but he did get the chance to play the Ape Man in 1938's Tarzan's Revenge.

Denny Miller was a blonde Tarzan in 1959's Tarzan the Ape Man and spoofed the character on an episode of Gilligan's Island.

Lex Barker starred in 1949's Tarzan's Magic Fountain and followed it up with four sequels -- Tarzan and the Slave Girl, Tarzan's Peril, Tarzan's Savage Fury, and Tarzan and the She-Devil.

Gordon Scott first played Tarzan in 1955's Tarzan's Hidden Jungle and would then go on to play the role in five additional films: Tarzan and the Lost Safari, Tarzan and the Trappers, Tarzan's Fight for Life, Tarzan's Greatest Adventure, and Tarzan the Magnificent.

Jock Mahoney almost was cast as a replacement for Johnny Weismuller in the 1940s but didn't get the part. Years later, however, in 1962's Tarzan Goes to India and the next year's Tarzan's Three Challenges.

Mike Henry starred in 1966's Tarzan and the Valley of Gold and its two sequels -- Tarzan and the Great River and Tarzan and the Jungle Boy.

Ron Ely was another famous Tarzan, playing the role for two years on television from which four two-part episodes were released theatrically -- Tarzan's Jungle Rebellion, Tarzan and the Four O'Clock War, Tarzan's Deadly Silence, and Tarzan and the Perils of Charity Jones.

Robert Ridgely voiced the character in the Saturday morning cartoon series The Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour.

Miles O'Keeffe was pretty forgettable in 1981's Tarzan the Ape Man because Bo Derek got top billing as Jane.

Christopher Lambert performed in the critically acclaimed, gritty version that took the character seriously and tried to add a bit of realism to the story in 1984's Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes.

Joe Lara starred in the CBS television movie Tarzan in Manhattan in 1989 and then in the 1996 syndicated series Tarzan: The Epic Adventures.

Wolf Larson starred in another Tarzan TV series that ran for three years in the 1990s.

Casper Van Dien may seem a bit short to play the Ape Man, but Disney cast him anyway in Tarzan and the Lost City, which flopped.

Travis Fimmel starred in the WB's ridiculous Tarzan reboot.

Tony Goldwyn lent his voice to Disney's animated Tarzan feature.

Michael T. Weiss voiced Disney's TV series cartoon Tarzan and Jane.

Who else will swing from a vine and lead the jungle animals against the forces of civilization?

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Fabulous! Once of the very early ones was filmed in the University of Chicago greenhouse where my ex used to work. I was a huge Buster Crabbe fan when I was a kid, but not for Tarzan. I loved him in Flash Gordon.