12 July 2000 | raysond
Action Packed Jungle Thrills...Commemorating the original Tarzan television series on its 50th anniversary
After the huge success of Tarzan on the big screen, Producer Sy Weintraub took the ape man from the silver screen to television. Tarzan made its debut on the NBC network for the fall schedule of 1966. Producer Sy Weintraub(who took over the "Tarzan" franchise in the mid- 1950's from Sol L. Lesser) wanted Mike Henry(who played Tarzan in the movies),but instead got Ron Ely to portrayed the ape man on television. Ron Ely was 28-years old when he got the part of a life portraying the 14th Tarzan based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' most famous character..this time on television. Ron Ely had a strong resume of work on both films and television to his credit including the films "South Pacific", "The Fiend That Walked The West", "The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker", "The Night of the Grizzly",and his television work for the series "How To Marry A Millionaire"(1957-1959);,and "The Aquanauts"(1960-1961) to name a few. The television version based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' character retained many of the elements and trappings of the classic movie series that included Cheeta The Chimp,and a boy sidekick named Jai (played by Manuel Padilla,Jr. who starred in the Tarzan films with Mike Henry) was Tarzan's companion helping him out in any way possible(only in this one there was NO Jane here),and lets not forget that this was a series that was indeed action packed with non-stop thrills,excitement and high adventure each week. Ron Ely did his own stunts here for this series.
Under the production of Sy Weintraub,who also served as executive producer of this series under his production Banner Productions, the television series "Tarzan" made its debut on September 9,1966 and it was filmed on location in Central America and Mexico with spectacular photography and to what NBC presented as "The Following Program Is Brought To You In Living Color"...A total of 57 episodes were produced in which Season 1 produced 32 episodes in color. The second and final season produced 25 episodes in color. "Tarzan" aired in prime-time on NBC's Friday night schedule where it faced strong competition in its first season opposite "The Green Hornet", "The Time Tunnel" and the hugely popular "The Wild,Wild West". The second and final season on Friday nights faced competition opposite "Off The See The Wizard", "Hondo",and it's rival in the ratings opposite "The Wild,Wild West". A total of 57 episodes aired in prime-time from September 9,1966 until April 5,1968. After NBC canceled the series in the Spring of 1968(due to show's violent content), "Tarzan" enjoy a resurgence in summer repeats for CBS airing from May 22,1969 until August 30,1969(as the summer replacement for "The Jackie Gleason Show").
Interesting note about this show...several episodes of the "Tarzan" television series were two part episodes that were strung together and actually shown in theaters as full length features that were released under Banner Productions and National General Pictures...among them were "Tarzan's Jungle Rebellion"(1966);"Tarzan and the Perils of Charity Jones"(1967);"Tarzan and the Four O'Clock Army"(1968);and "Tarzan's Deadly Silence"(1970). Actors that had recurring appearances in this series were Maurice Evans, Julie Harris, Chips Rafferty, Rockne Tarkington, and Woody Strode appeared in numerous episodes of the series. Check out the guest star roster for this series that consisted of Ethel Merman, James Earl Jones, Diana Ross, Cicely Tyson, Don Marshall, Neville Brand, Carlos Riva, Roscoe Lee Browne, Pat Conway, Ted Cassidy, Simon Oakland, Rafer Johnson, Fernando Lamas, Rosie Grier, Diana Sands, Beah Richards, Ralph Meeker, James Whitmore, Jock Mahoney, to Russ Tamblyn, Yaphet Kotto, George Kennedy, Barbara Luna, James MacArthur, Nichelle Nichols, Don Marshall and many more.
The best episodes from this action-packed series were "The Pearls of Tanga", "Faces of Death", "The Last of the Supermen", "Alex The Great","Tarzan's Jungle Rebellion", "The Deadly Silence", "The Ultimate Duel", "The Four O'Clock Army", "Mountains of the Moon", "The Blue Stone of Heaven", "The Convert", "Hotel Hurricane", "Jungle Dragnet",and "Jungle Ransom" to name a few. When NBC canceled this series in the Spring of 1968 after two seasons and 57 episodes it was immediately replaced on its Friday night schedule by the Western adventure series "The High Chapparal"....Revised on July 15, 2016 to commemorate on the show's 50th anniversary...originally written on July 12, 2000 but this has been revised and edited.