Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September 01: The Burroughs-Disney Connection

On this day in 1875, writer Edgar Rice Burroughs was born in Chicago, Illinois. He is best known for the 24 novels he wrote about his fictional character Tarzan - who was raised in the African jungle by apes.
Tarzan first appeared in the novel Tarzan of the Apes in 1914. Four years later Tarzan was made into a live-action film (the first of over 80 through the year 2008). Burroughs wrote another 23 sequels making Tarzan one of the best-known literary characters in the world. But he always wanted his jungle creation to star in an animated feature. Burroughs went as far as writing Walt Disney about it after the success of Snow White.
Forty-nine years after the death of Burroughs, Walt Disney Feature Animation released Tarzan, the only animated version of the character ever made. Featuring music from Phil Collins, the film was such a huge hit that it was made into a live stage musical. Although a Broadway production of Tarzan of the Apes had been staged back in 1921, Disney's musical version opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in 2006. In attendance at the grand debut on May 10, 2006 was Danton Burroughs - grandson of Edgar Rice Burroughs!
Tarzan also appeared in the Tarzan Rocks! show which played at the Theatre in the Wild at Disney's Animal Kingdom during the popularity of the animated film.
Tarzan of the Apes was also originally adapted into a newspaper strip in early 1929. His popularity led to appearances in many comic books over the years. In June 1977 Marvel Comics even published the first of what would be 28 issues about Tarzan.
But Tarzan isn't the only connection that Edgar Rice Burroughs has to Disney. Burroughs was also a pioneer of modern science fiction. He wrote about the world of Barsoom - a fictional representation of the planet Mars. Burroughs penned over 95 swashbuckling action adventures in various genres. The first novel A Princess of Mars in 1917 led to countless sequels over the next 3 decades. Burroughs frequently made up words for the language spoken by the characters in these science fiction stories. (The word "Barsoom" is the native Martian word for Mars.) He even compiled a glossary of these terms ... which leads us to Walt Disney. In 1957, Disney created an animated version of Burroughs' Martian Dictionary for the "Mars and Beyond" television episode!

Click HERE for more September 01 Disney History.

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