Remembering television's first proper Tarzan
"When tall actor Ron Ely played Tarzan from 1966 to 1968, he wasn't the first television Tarzan. He'd been pipped at the post by one of the previous cinema Tarzans, Gordon Scott, who starred in three half-hour pilot shows in the mid fifties that were subsequently edited together to make the theatrical feature, Tarzan and the Trappers.
But Ron Ely is probably the first TV Tarzan that most can remember and his hour-long adventures were originally filmed in Brazil, but were later moved to Mexico due to production delays, some of which were caused by Ely insisting on doing his own stunts and incurring several injuries. Sy Weintraub produced the series for Banner Productions, which sported a lively, colourful, opening sequence. A two part episode called 'The Blue Stone of Heaven' served as the show's pilot, and five two part episodes were edited for cinema release.
As well as muscular Ron Ely, other regulars in the cast included Manuel Padilla Jr. as the boy Jai, Alan Caillou as Jason Flood, and Rockne Tarkington as Tao; but no sign whatsoever of Tarzan's Jane. Some other famous stars who appeared throughout the programme's two year run included Chill Wills, Gia Scala, Jack Elam, Maurice Evans, Julie Harris, Chips Rafferty, and Woody Strode.
The show made its ATV debut in the autumn of 1967, with the first season having two re-runs. However the second season, which included less violence in the story lines, proved less popular. But Tarzan made a come back in the mid '70s on Saturday mornings, and in a mid-week tea time slot."
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