1. Memories of the
Adventures of Tarzan Radio Show -- Early '50s
- Bill Hillman
2. Tarzana Quest - Bill Hillman
3. Chessman of the North 40...and Beyond... - Bill Hillman
4. Music of the Spheres - Bill Hillman
5. A Trip Down ERB Memory Lane - Early '50s - Bill Hillman
6. ERB List in the order I found them - Bill Hillman
“From the heart of
the jungle comes the savage cry of victory.
This is Tarzan - Lord of the Jungle
From the black core of Dark Africa, land of enchantment, mystery and violence comes one of the most colourful figures of all time...transcribed from the immortal pen of Edgar Rice Burroughs..... Tarzan -- the bronze white son of the jungle!
And now in the very words of Mr. Burroughs, the story of Tarzan and [episode name goes here]. Orch. sting..."
Summer 1969 -- Sue-On and I had been married for three years and this was our first trip together into the United States. We had spent all of June and July, and much of August, touring Western Canada performing at Concerts, Fairs and Exhibitions. When the tour wound down, we headed for the American South West, hitting all the Zane Grey western sites, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Death Valley, the Roy Rogers Museum, Hollywood, Disney Land, Tijuana...and all the usual tourist stops in between. But the one place that held the most mystique for me was Tarzana -- a city a little north of Los Angeles which occupies the land that was once called Tarzana Ranch and was home to Edgar Rice Burroughs - Master of Adventure and the Grandfather of Science Fiction. I had been a devoted ERB reader and collector since reading a ragged cast-off copy of The Chessmen of Mars back in 1953. Soon after we were married, my new bride was joining me in my fantastic flights through the dreamworlds created by ERB -- worlds like nothing ever before imagined by a young girl growing up in southern China and later on the Canadian Prairies.
The ERB Inc. Tarzana office was not easy to find. We knew the general location but drove by it a few times before we decided to double check the address at a local phone booth and then to query the natives who were able to offer only minimal assistance. After a few more passes on the busy Ventura Boulevard we zeroed in on a Spanish-style, one storey bungalow which displayed a small sign hidden behind a redwood fence and various trees. This unimposing, stuccoed, ivy-covered building had probably seen few changes since it was built in 1927 by ERB. On one side was a storehouse-type building and I seem to remember a vacant, grassed lot beside that building. As we got up nerve and approached the bungalow, I looked back through the trees onto Ventura and the typical "modern" buildings on all sides, and I couldn't help thinking that I was about to enter an abode that was o-so-typical of ERB...sort of a Land That Time Forgot. At that time I didn't have access to much information about the ERB Inc. organization, and it was before any in-depth biographies had been written on Burroughs, but in our ignorance we stumbled to the front verandah entrance.
We were met by Hulbert Burroughs -- eldest son of Edgar Rice Burroughs! After introducing ourselves as a couple of devoted ERB fans from the "wilds" of Canada, we were invited in. I have travelled back repeatedly, in my mind's eye, to try to remember all the details of what followed -- sadly some sort of a memory cloak seems to have settled over the event. However, a number of things stand out in my memory. Hulbert guided us through a few of the rooms, the most memorable one being the one featuring ERB's desk. The desk was large and ornately carved -- and standing before a backdrop of ERB-filled bookshelves. I remember being given permission to take down and handle a number of first editions. Hulbert pointed out many ERB-related books, mementos, paintings, photographs, and furniture items around the room and shared histories and stories of each. He was gracious enough to invite me to sit at ERB's desk where he said his father had written many of his novels.
Later, as the three of us were seated around the desk, Mr. Burroughs noticed my new Pentax camera. After commenting that he dabbled a bit in photography (later I learned that he had served as a military photographer in WWII), he asked if he could examine it. Feeling quite proud and honoured by his interest, I unhesitatingly passed the camera over to him. Smugly waiting for his approval I watched him flip open the case -- what followed will be forever etched in my mind: Hulbert, his chair, Sue-On, ERB's desk, and all the mementos and documents on the desk, were suddenly engulfed in a cloud of dust and a landslide of sand and gravel. All three of us stared in dumbfounded amazement at the carnage -- and I had no explanation. It was some time later, after much mental backtracking that I remembered lying on a mountain roadside gravel pile the night before, trying to take a picture of the sunset over Pasadena. Since we were in a hurry to get back on the road to find lodging for the night, I quickly snapped the picture and flipped the case back over the camera -- inadvertently scooping up large quantities of gravel as I did so. Hulbert wisely suggested that I might keep the camera a little cleaner to avoid future problems with the mechanism. Making a rapid recovery I awkwardly brushed the larger pebbles into my tennis hat -- stammering all the while in disbelief and embarassment. Staying on the topic of photography Hulbert displayed a large number of his photos -- many of them enlarged and framed -- and the majority were of his favourite subject -- closeups of cactus flowers in full bloom and displaying a myriad of colours. Satisfied that I wasn't hiding any more surprises in my camera, he let me take photos at will -- not surprisingly, few of the day's photos turned out...the sunset was great though.
Later, we eagerly accepted an invitation to tour the "warehouse." This building on the adjacent lot had been built as a store but was later converted to a garage, and then to a storehouse for ERB Inc. product and ERB archival material. Labelled storage boxes were stacked floor to ceiling, and since there had been a fire (spontaneous combustion from old Tarzan nitrate film stock), many of the boxes were charred and in disarray -- cleanup was still in progress. Enough of the labels were discernible, however, to give some idea of the treasures which lay within: A.C. McClurg & Co., Fan and Personal Letters, Motion Pictures, Real Estate, Tarzana, etc. -- but the boxes that excited me most were the ones labeled Tarzan Radio Serials.
One of the radio shows that had triggered an all consuming passion for programs from the Golden Days of Radio was Tarzan back in the early ‘50s. I had purchased a reel-to-reel tape recorder in 1963 and it wasn’t long before my nostalgia packrat instincts had amassed a collection of old radio shows on tape. Coincidentally, my first purchase was 77 episodes of the Tarzan serial from 1931. After reminding Hulbert that the stars of this series were James and Joan Burroughs Pierce, ERB’s son-in-law and daughter, I asked if I could look through the Tarzan Radio Serial crates. He mentioned that they had no way of playing the shows since they were on 16” electrical transcription discs, and that Mr. and Mrs. Pierce hadn’t heard the shows since they had recorded them many years before. At this point I told him that I had many of the shows on tape in my ERB collection (I even had a 16” Gates broadcast turntable set up to play ETs) -- and I would send copies of my tapes to them when I returned home. To my surprise, he seriously suggested that if I could find a way of staying in Tarzana I would have a job cataloging the discs and helping with the other inventory. One of my lifetime regrets was having to decline as both Sue-On and I had to return to Canada to finish University and to carry on with our performing and teaching careers.
When it came time to leave, we were invited to return the next morning as James and Joan would be coming to the office for a meeting and he felt sure they would like to talk with us about ERB, movies, our collection, and the old Tarzan radio shows. As we were leaving, Hulbert autographed a Tarzana Chamber of Commerce/Bank booklet with a Crandall/Williamson cover and a short ERB bio & bib inside.
Next morning we returned with a carefully cleaned and polished Pentax, looking forward to meeting another of the Burroughs family and her “first-talkie-movie Tarzan” husband. They proved to be just as gracious as brother Hulbert and we had a wonderful chat about the old days of Hollywood before we moved on to the work they did on the radio series. Both were extremely interested in my taped shows and I promised to send them copies as soon as I could. Our visit closed with Sue-On offering to take my picture with the Pierces -- under the large tree in the front yard, close to the spot where ERB’s ashes had been buried back in 1950.
We returned to home to Manitoba and Brandon University -- and I kept my promise. Some weeks later, a large box arrived from Tarzana, California. Carefully packed in the box were 13 ERB Inc. first editions by Edgar Rice Burroughs...and a stack of unfolded dustjackets from different editions! Each contained a sticker which read:
[This ragged and worn castoff Grosset & Dunlap that I retrieved from the school discard bin is one of the most beautiful books in my collection. I immediately fell under the spell of its old look, feel, smell, pictures...and words. I was totally captivated and a little scared and grossed out by the pictures and descriptions of headless beings, walking head creatures with “feelers,” catacombs, tunnels, dungeons, superhuman swordsmen, beautiful princesses, battles on Jetan fields, and an endless string of adventures like none I had ever dreamed before. The Chessmen of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs is still one of my all-time favourites.]
Aha! Rules for Jetan in the loose and tattered pages at the back of the book! Martian Chess...the closest I had ever come to chess was the short-lived excitement of learning checkers from my grandfather. Undaunted, I studied ERB’s description of the Jetan board and drew 100 black and orange coloured squares onto a large sheet of heavy paper which I then glued to a piece of plywood. Obviously influenced by my checkers experience, I obtained round milk bottle caps on which I carefully drew and coloured feathers, propellers and jewels. After mastering the rules I pestered everyone in the family to play my new game. Unfortunately, few could see or feel the excitement I experienced as I slid the makeshift disc-warriors across the board to do battle. I went so far as to move my game, solo this time, out to the cow pasture north of our 1920-built brick farmhouse. Here I superimposed my new obsession onto an earlier passion -- my football grid iron where I practiced kicking, broken field running and play strategies against invisible opponents. A simple matter to convert the scratched-in-the turf parallel yardlines into Jetan squares -- and to transform the imaginary shoulder pads, helmets and tacklers in football jerseys to battle harness, headdresses, and sword-swinging tharks. The game was made even more exciting when herds of bovine thoats moved in to do battle with this solitary, two-legged invader of their grassy kingdom.
Long before Virtual Reality, computerized
Battle Chess and Ultima, and in my case, even before television, ERB’s
words and J. Allen St. John’s illustrations filled my inner cranial theatre
with visions of Chess battles by living warriors. Eighteen combatants on
each side, loyally battling to the death in defence of their beloved Princess
and Chieftain across a huge arena surface of 100 black and orange squares.
These Warriors, Padwars, Dwars, Fliers, Thoats and Panthans all came alive
and stirred and seeded my fallow imagination with images and emotions which
would grow, excite, and sustain creativity for rest of my life. Many of
my reactions to the adversities and pressures, boredom and loneliness,
successes and triumphs -- and personal relationships -- in the real world,
would be determined by the lessons I learned from these romantic and fantastic
adventures on distant Barsoom.
---Bill Hillman -
The music I have come to associate with ERB is a very eclectic mix which melds into a mosaic montage which, I feel, is the essence of ERB. Burroughs never visited Africa because the jungles and lost worlds he wrote about were really products of his imagination and had little in common with any locale on earth. Similarly, there is little chance of finding one type of music which would embrace all the images and moods conjured up by ERB. With this in mind, here are ten of the musical gems I would pack for this week's trip to Barsoom:
1. The soundtrack from one of my favourite films -- Somewhere In Time. The film has Christopher Reeve wishing/willing himself to another time and place to join lost love Jane Seymour in a Victorian/Edwardian setting. The romantic music by John Barry - much of it incorporating themes from Rachmaninoff -- is hauntingly bittersweet.
2. The Local Hero soundtrack by Mark Knopfler. This was one of Burt Lancaster’s last films. I always thought his, and contemporary Kirk Douglas’ bigger-than-life screen presences would have been perfect for ERB character portrayals. This gem of a movie has a soundtrack which enhances and augments the weaving of visual images of starry skies, northern lights, sea shores, and mystical moors and highlands to emphasize a kinship with nature. It reawakens an appreciation of my Scottish heritage and warrior ancestors -- and creates a spell which unites me with many of the ERBdoms. I take special pleasure in watching the country dance sequence -- partly because it is a community dance not unlike many I attended in Canada in my early formative years, but also because the piano player is Alan Clark from Dire Straits who played keyboards on 18 songs in our England recording sessions. The whole experience reminds me of the veddy British and very ERB-like values and traditions I grew up with before we were swamped by a barrage modern American influences with their related Gung Ho arrogance, gum chewing, and gun totin’ mentalities.
3. The spirit of many of ERB’s stories is best reflected in the captivating, celtic-flavoured music of Loreena McKennitt, who was raised not far from our home in Manitoba. Her songs and haunting voice weave marvelous tales of ancient warriors, knights and maidens, all painted over a backdrop of harps, exotic percussion, and droning synthesizers and traditional instruments.
4. Early Elvis - especially his Sun Sessions - because of the raw excitement he brought to my awakening teenage world. My discovery and appreciation of Elvis and ERB ran juxtaposed paths in the mid ‘50s. The southern-gentleman-from-humble-roots persona which introduced the world to an exciting new music form, as well as far-out clothes, revolutionary stage presence, guitar worship, and karate moves, all linked with, and paralleled Clayton and Carter in my mind.
5. The cowboy story songs and love ballads of Ian Tyson and Marty Robbins provide a fine background for the reading of ERB’s Western novels.
6. I have to include much of our own original music here because I can’t deny that much of it has been permeated with ERB’s influence. The song Harvest, although ostensibly about a desire to re-experience autumn on the prairies, could just as easily be interpreted as an ode to far-off, lost worlds such as Barsoom. I believe such influences are everywhere in our music but especially in the songs which have more exotic themes: China Song, In Sadness, China Lady, etc.
7. Tchaikowsky’s Piano Concerto in B Flat Minor takes on special significance when one recognizes it as the theme from the Orson Welles Mercury Theatre radio program which terrified much of America by reporting the Invasion from Mars back in 1938.
8. The John Williams soundtracks from the Star Wars and Indiana Jones trilogies provide magnificently in-sync accompaniments to the Lucas and Spielberg tributes to Pulpdom.
9. Our music collection contains a large assortment of Science Fiction-related themes and soundtracks which are constantly begging for inclusion in my Barsoom travel pack. This week’s random choices are the themes from: Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series and Space Odyssey 2001
10. My selections could go on interminably
but the last choice for this trip will include instrumentals from guitar
bands such as the Shadows and Ventures... now
commonly labelled with the misnomer Surf Music. This genre, which I have
performed for decades, transports me to the southern California that ERB
loved so well.
---Bill Hillman -
And [sigh]... a little SISTER... but she proved to be a good character actor and game companion for the Ape Man (numa, mangani, bad guys, gimla and Jane were only a few of the roles she had to tackle).
Sadly, there were NO ERB NOVELS... and I loved to read. My mother, realizing my obsession for "jungle stuff", started me on a series of TOM STETSON books on Whitman (anyone remember these?). Christmas 1951 yielded "The Giant Jungle Ants", '52 "The Blue Devil" and '53 "On the Trail of the Lost Tribe". A little later I discovered the BOMBA series on G&D ...but still no Tarzan.
Finally, in 1954, on a trip to the big city of Brandon, I discovered a book shop that stocked the G&D Tarzans. After months of subtle Jean Shepard Xmas-Story-Red-Ryder-BB-Gun-type hints to my parents and 'old softie' grandfather, they presented me with the RETURN OF TARZAN on my twelfth birthday - the book was a revelation.
I still have this now-jacketless G&D
treasure with its loose pages...
and the tear on page 296 -- actually a rip from the claw of my pet cat.
I had just started Chapter XXV - "Through the Forest Primeval" when word came that my Grandfather had been taken to the hospital and was dying. I had jumped up, dropping the book and my startled reading partner lap cat to the floor.
Now, many decades later, my sister has parlayed her sense of adventure into a career in Saudi Arabia. My Tarzan eventually took on the added persona of John Carter and we married Dejah Thoris. Together, my Princess and I have preserved and added to all the early ERB treasures...
...but I'm still ticked off about that mutilated
and I'm still looking for my missing Return of Tarzan dust jacket...
--- Bill Hillman
Chessmen of Mars - old ragged G&D
Return of Tarzan - new '50s G&D January 11, 1955
Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar - new '50s G&D June 7, 1955
Tarzan and the Ant Men - new '50s G&D June 7, 1955
Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle - new '50s G&D June 7, 1955
Tarzan and the Forbidden City (Whitman) June 7, 1955
Jungle Tales of Tarzan - new '50s G&D 1955
Tarzan and the Golden Lion - new '50s G&D 1955
Tarzan the Untamed - new '50s G&D 1955
Tarzan the Terrible- new '50s G&D 1955
Tarzan and the City of Gold (Whitman) 1955
Beasts of Tarzan - Burt January 1956
Pellucidar - old G&D - Pinnacle Pb 1957
Gods of Mars - G&D July 24, 1957
Warlord of Mars - McClurg July 24, 1957
Thuvia, Maid of Mars - old G&D in DJ July 24, 1957
Tarzana and the Lost Empire - old G&D July 24, 1957
Tarzan of the Apes - old G&D July 24, 1957
Son of Tarzan - Burt August 24, 1957
Tarzan and the Lion Man - ERB Inc. August 24, 1957
Tarzan and the Lost Safari - Whitman Movie Adapt. September 4, 1957
Mastermind of Mars - G&D November 8, 1957
Monster Men - old G&D in DJ January 11, 1958
Tarzan the Invincible - G&D February 15, 1958
Tarzan and the Leopard Men - ERB Library Binding February 15, 1958
Tarzan's Quest - ERB Library Binding February 15, 1958
At the Earth's Core - McClurg April 1958
Bandit of Hell's Bend - Early G&D in DJ April 1958
Tarzan at the Earth's Core - Metropolitan 1959
Tarzan of the Apes - Br. Methuen 1959
War Chief - G&D 1960
Tarzan and the Foreign Legion - ERB Inc. 1960
A Princess of Mars - G&D - Methuen May 1961
Outlaw of Torn - PB Pinnacle May 1961
John Carter and the Giant of Mars (Pulp) - Amazing Re-issue April 1961
Tarzan the Magnificent - Methuen June 1961
Cave Girl - G&D - Dell PB June 19, 1961 & September 1961
Beyond Thirty and the Man Eater - SFFP June 1961
Lost on Venus - G&D September 1961
Swordsman of Mars (OAK) Ace September 1961
The Mucker - G&D April 1962
Eternal Lover - G&D April 1962
Thuvia/Chessmen/Mastermind (Dover) April 1962
Outlaws of Mars (OAK) Ace April 1962
Moon Maid - Canaveral July 7, 1962
Fighting Man of Mars - Canaveral July 7, 1962
Jungle Girl July 21, 1962
Synthetic Men of Mars (in Argosy pulps) July 21, 1962
Man Without a World (JCB/HB in Thrilling Wonder pulp) July 21, 1962
Llana of Gathol - Burroughs August 1962
Land that Time Forgot - Canaveral December 27, 1962
Tanar of Pellucidar - Canaveral December 27, 1962
Port of Peril (OAK) (Avalon) January 23, 1963 & Aug.31, 1964
Girl from Hollywood - Macaulay February 14, 1963
Swords of Mars - ERB February 14, 1963
Land That Time Forgot/Moon Maid - Dover November 21, 1963
Tales of Three Planets (Canaveral) 1964
Tarzan and the Madman (Canaveral) 1964
Skeleton Men of Jupiter (Pulp) Amazing January 1964
Mad King - G&D January 28, 1964
Apache Devil - Burroughs January 28, 1964
Tarzan Twins (Canaveral) January 31, 1964
Land of Terror (Canaveral) January 31, 1964
Escape on Venus (Canaveral) January 31, 1964
Savage Pellucidar (Canaveral) January 31, 1964
Lad and the Lion (Canaveral) 1964
John Carter of Mars (Canaveral) 1964
Planet of Peril (OAK) Ace February 4, 1964
Prince of Peril (OAK) Ace February 14, 1964
Carson of Venus (Canaveral) 1965
The Girl from Farris's - Greystoke 1965
Tarzan and the Castaways (Canaveral) January 14, 1965
Efficiency Expert - Greystoke 1966
Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (Leiber) 1966
I am a Barbarian - ERB 1st 1967
Treasure of the Black Falcon (JCB) Ballantine 1967
Terrible Tenderfoot - ERBdom reprint 1973
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