Film poster for the first Tarzan movie in 1918, starring Elmo Lincoln

Tarzan, a fictional character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, first appeared in the 1912 novel Tarzan of the Apes, and then in twenty-four sequels by Burroughs and numerous more by other authors. The character proved immensely popular and quickly made the jump to other media, first and most notably to comics and film.


The lobby card from the silent 1918 incarnation of Tarzan of the Apes

The earlier Tarzan films were silent pictures adapted from the original Tarzan novels which appeared within a few years of the character's creation. With the advent of talking pictures, a popular Tarzan movie franchise was developed, which was anchored by actor Johnny Weissmüller in the title role, which lasted from 1932 to 1948. Tarzan films under Weissmüller often featured the character's chimpanzee companion, Cheeta. Later Tarzan films after Weissmüller have been occasional and somewhat idiosyncratic.

Silent film

Frank Merrill as Tarzan in Tarzan the Tiger (1929)

The earlier Tarzan films were eight silent features and serials released between 1918 and 1929, most based on novels in the original series. Elmo Lincoln starred in the first Tarzan feature, Tarzan of the Apes (1918), a faithful cinematic rendering of Burroughs' first Tarzan novel. The first portion of the film featured Gordon Griffith as the young Tarzan, so Griffith could technically be considered the first screen Tarzan. (Early in the film, Tarzan is also shown as a baby played by at least two different uncredited children.) Elmo Lincoln returned for two sequels. Additional silents were produced in the 1920s with other actors (three of these films – The Romance of Tarzan (1918, Elmo Lincoln), The Revenge of Tarzan (1920, Gene Pollar), and Tarzan the Mighty (1928, Frank Merrill) – have been lost). One of the silents, Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1927), featured the then-unknown Boris Karloff as a villainous native chieftain. Other actors who portrayed the character in 1920s films were P. Dempsey Tabler and James Pierce (who married the daughter of Edgar Rice Burroughs). The first Tarzan sound film was Tarzan the Tiger (1929), featuring Frank Merrill as the Ape Man, shot as a silent but partially dubbed for release. It was Merrill’s second Tarzan movie, and it cost him the role, as his voice was deemed unsuitable for the part.[1]

The Weissmüller era

Me Tarzan, You Jane

The “Me Tarzan, You Jane” cliché probably originates from telescoping the dialogue of Tarzan and Jane’s first meeting in Tarzan the Ape Man (1932). The film's dialogue was written by the British actor/composer Ivor Novello.:

Jane Parker: Thank you for protecting me.

Tarzan: Me?

Jane Parker: I said, thank you for protecting me.

Tarzan: [points at Jane] Me?

Jane Parker: No. I'm only "Me" for me.

Tarzan: [points at Jane] Me.

Jane Parker: No. To you, I'm "You."

Tarzan: [points at himself] You.

Jane Parker: No... [Thinks for a second]

Jane Parker: I'm Jane Parker. Understand? Jane, Jane.

Tarzan: [points at Jane] Jane, Jane.

Jane Parker: Yes, Jane. And you? [Tarzan stares]

Jane Parker: [points at herself] Jane.

Tarzan: Jane.

Jane Parker: [points at Tarzan] And you?

Tarzan: Tarzan. Tarzan.

Jane Parker: Tarzan...

Another dialogue moment that comes close is in Tarzan’s New York Adventure (1943). Tarzan emphasizes the couple’s mutual affection by pointing and saying “Tarzan…Jane…Jane…Tarzan.”

The most popular series of Tarzan films began with Tarzan the Ape Man (1932), starring Johnny Weissmüller and Maureen O'Sullivan. Weissmüller, the son of ethnic-German immigrants from the Hungarian part of Austria-Hungary, was already well known as a five-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming. He became the most famous and longest-lasting screen Tarzan, starring as the Ape Man in a total of twelve films, through 1948, the first six produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and the final six from RKO. The beauteous and scantily clad O'Sullivan was a major factor in the early popularity of the series. The role of Jane in the films was reduced after O'Sullivan departed in 1942 following the sixth film in the series (and the last for MGM), Tarzan's New York Adventure. Two Jane-less films followed before Brenda Joyce took over the role for the last four Weissmüller Tarzan films.

Starting afresh with an extremely free adaptation of Tarzan of the Apes which threw out everything that had gone before, the Weissmüller series was a boon to the franchise if not to the character. In contrast to the articulate nobleman of Burroughs's novels, Weissmuller's Tarzan was a natural hero with a limited vocabulary. The ersatz pidgin of his dialogue has often been mocked as "Me Tarzan, you Jane," although that particular line was never spoken in any of the films (see insert).

Tarzan and Jane were clearly married in the novels, but their legal status was left ambiguous in the Weissmuller films, even though they shared a jungle treehouse and (particularly in the second film of the series, Tarzan and His Mate) a strong sexual chemistry. In keeping with Motion Picture Production Code requirements, their son "Boy" was found and adopted rather than born to Jane. The "Boy" character, played by Johnny Sheffield, appeared in eight consecutive films in the series, starting with Tarzan Finds a Son (1939). Weissmüller's yodel-like "Tarzan yell" became so associated with the character that it was sometimes dubbed into later films featuring different actors. Cheeta the chimpanzee provided comic relief through the series.

Competing films of the 1930s

Due to complex licensing issues relating to Tarzan, a number of competing films starring other actors were made during the Weissmüller period. The first of these was Tarzan the Fearless (1933), released as both a 12-chapter serial and as an edited feature film under the same title. It starred another Olympic swimmer, 1932 gold medalist Buster Crabbe, and was the first Tarzan film produced by Sol Lesser, later to become producer of the franchise when it moved to RKO. Crabbe went on to a career in B-films and television, including portrayals of space opera heroes Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers.

The New Adventures of Tarzan (1935), hearkening back to the original concept of the character as an intelligent Englishman, was a serial featuring Herman Brix that was reedited into two feature films, the first released in the same year and with the same title as the serial, and the second, Tarzan and the Green Goddess released in 1938. Edgar Rice Burroughs had a financial interest in the production. Brix, another Olympian (shotput) changed his name in 1939 and, as Bruce Bennett, enjoyed a long career in film and television.

Tarzan's Revenge, released in 1938, starred Glenn Morris, gold medal winner in the Olympic decathlon in 1936, a feat documented in part two of Leni Riefenstahl's film Olympia. Morris was thus the fourth Olympian to play Tarzan. His co-star was Olympic swimmer Eleanor Holm who won a gold medal in 1932 and was expelled from the 1936 Olympics under controversial circumstances. She played a Jane-like character named Eleanor. This film was also produced by Sol Lesser. It was poorly reviewed, causing Morris to abandon any thoughts of a further film career.

With the exception of The New Adventures of Tarzan, which was partially filmed in Guatemala, the Tarzan movies of this period were mostly filmed on Hollywood sound stages and backlots, with stock jungle and wildlife footage edited into the final product.

The franchise after Weissmüller

After Tarzan and the Mermaids in 1948, Weissmuller retired from the series, believing that he was now too old to play the loincloth-clad character. He went on, however, to appear in a long series of similar adventures wearing a safari suit as Jungle Jim.

After Weissmüller's departure, producer Sol Lesser led a nationwide search for a replacement, auditioning over 200 actors. The winner was Lex Barker, a tall and strikingly handsome 29-year-old who had grown up in wealth and privilege in New York City. Barker portrayed Tarzan in five films (1949–1953), each with a different actress portraying Jane (the first one being Brenda Joyce, a carry-over from the Weissmüller series). These were mostly low budget affairs similar to Weissmuller's RKO films, although the third one, Tarzan's Peril (1951), was an attempt to upgrade the series by filming on actual African locations and using local Africans in the cast. Despite Barker's aristocratic bearing and good acting credentials, Lesser insisted that he emulate Weissmüller's "Me Tarzan, you Jane" characterization.

Next came six films starring Gordon Scott (1955–1960), a bodybuilder who was discovered while lifeguarding at a hotel in Las Vegas. His first three Tarzan films, produced by Sol Lesser, continued in the Weissmüller formula. Lesser also produced several episodes of a Tarzan television pilot starring Scott that was edited into a feature film called Tarzan and the Trappers.

Then the series was taken over by producer Sy Weintraub, who wanted to move the character closer to Burroughs's original conception. The result starred Scott in two of the best-received entries in the entire franchise, Tarzan's Greatest Adventure (1959) and Tarzan the Magnificent (1960). MGM released a remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man in 1959, a poorly received film starring Denny Miller. The Weintraub series continued in two films featuring veteran stuntman Jock Mahoney (1962–1963), three with former pro-football player Mike Henry (1966–1968), and two (feature versions of television episodes) with Ron Ely (1970). The Mike Henry films were filmed before the Ron Ely TV series, but were released to theatres after the TV series debuted. Weintraub had intended Henry to star in the TV series, but Henry declined because of the injuries and illnesses he had suffered during back to back location filming.

The Weintraub productions, including the Ron Ely television series (see below), dropped the character of Jane and portrayed Tarzan as an intelligent but apparently rootless adventurer. The Mike Henry entries, starting with Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966), were produced at the height of the James Bond craze, and had a well-tailored Tarzan jetting around the world to take on dangerous missions. In contrast to most earlier Tarzan films, the Weintraub productions were in color and were shot in exotic locations such as Kenya, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Mexico, and Brazil.

By 1965, films starring Tarzan had collectively grossed over $750,000,000 (equivalent to $7,250,000,000 in 2023) worldwide, making him the highest-grossing film character up until then. Tarzan's total gross greatly exceeded John Wayne, who was the highest-grossing actor at the time.[2]

Later films

After 1970, the movie Tarzan went on hiatus until 1981, when MGM released its third version of Tarzan, the Ape Man with Miles O'Keeffe in the title role and Bo Derek as Jane. The film was financially successful, but critically panned.

The better-received Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes followed in 1984, starring Christopher Lambert. Returning to the source material, it updated Burroughs’ original novel in the light of 1980s sensibilities and science, utilizing a number of corrective ideas first put forth by science fiction author Philip José Farmer in his 1972 mock-biography Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography of Lord Greystoke. While restoring Tarzan’s identity as an intelligent human being, Greystoke portrayed his adaptation to civilization as a failure, and his return to the wild as a matter of necessity rather than choice.

The next live-action Tarzan movie was Tarzan and the Lost City (1998) which starred Casper Van Dien. Essentially a follow-on to Greystoke, this film was set in the 1920s and attempted to capture the flavor of some of the later novels in the Tarzan series, in which the ape-man encountered increasingly fantastic civilizations hidden in the deep jungles.

The latest live-action Tarzan film The Legend of Tarzan (2016), produced by Warner Brothers and Jerry Weintraub & directed by David Yates, was released on July 1, 2016. It stars Alexander Skarsgård and Margot Robbie as Tarzan and Jane, along with Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz and Djimon Hounsou. The new approach blended the characters and the setting from the Burroughs novels with the events of the Belgian Congo in the late 1880s and historical figures with a significant role at the time, such as Leon Rom as portrayed by Waltz.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13]

On September 30, 2022, The Hollywood Reporter has announced that Sony Pictures has picked up the screen rights to Tarzan and is looking to deliver a "total reinvention" of the character.[14]

Animated films

Disney's animated Tarzan (1999) marked a new beginning for the ape man, taking its inspiration equally from Burroughs and Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. Its major innovations were recasting the original fictitious ape species that adopted Tarzan as gorillas and turning William Cecil Clayton, his paternal cousin and rival for the affections of Jane in the early novels, into a brawny out-and-out villain known only as "Clayton." Tarzan was voiced by actor Tony Goldwyn with a Tarzan yell vocalized by Brian Blessed and Jane by Minnie Driver.

Two direct-to-video sequels followed, Tarzan & Jane (2002), and Tarzan II (2005), a re-exploration of the ape man’s childhood. In Tarzan & Jane, Goldwyn and Driver were replaced by Michael T. Weiss and Olivia d'Abo.

Also in 1999, a direct-to-video animated version of Tarzan of the Apes aimed at younger children was released by Sony Wonder.

In 2013, Germany's Constantin Film released a Tarzan 3D animated feature in CGI with motion capture. Reinhard Klooss directed.[15][16][17] Kellan Lutz and Spencer Locke voiced Tarzan and Jane Porter, respectively.[18] The film opened in a number of countries in late 2013 and early 2014, but received mostly negative reviews and as a result no theatrical release was planned for the U.S. Instead, the film was released directly to DVD and Blu-ray in the U.S. in August 2014.


The film Tarzan corpus also includes a number of documentaries, most of them either made for television or to accompany video sets of Tarzan movies, a number of derivative foreign-language productions from China, India, and Turkey, and various spoofs and parodies. Among the latter is Starzan, a Philippine Cinema comedy film loosely based on the original Tarzan franchise satirizing western entertainment. It stars Filipino comedic actor Joey De Leon as Starzan, Rene Requiestas as "Chitae", and Zsa Zsa Padilla as Jane.

Steve Sipek also known as Steve Hawkes[19] played Tarzan in two films produced by a Spanish company and intended for world markets. The first was variously titled Tarzán en la gruta del oro/King of the Jungle/Tarzan in the Golden Grotto (1969) and portions were filmed in Suriname, Florida, Africa, Spain and Italy, with interruptions when the producers ran out of money. Sipek claimed the film company could not pay the huge licensing fees from Edgar Rice Burroughs' estate and settled for the name "Zan" or "Karzan"[20] for the character.[21]

A 1972 sequel, Tarzan and the Brown Prince (1972), had portions filmed in Rainbow Springs, Florida.[22] where Sipek was burned in a fire that got out of control.


A 1921 Broadway production of Tarzan of The Apes starred Ronald Adair as Tarzan and Ethel Dwyer as Jane Porter.

In 1976, Richard O'Brien wrote a musical entitled T. Zee, loosely based on the idea of Tarzan but restyled in a rock idiom.

Tarzan, a musical stage adaptation of the 1999 animated feature, opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway on May 10, 2006. The show, a Disney Theatrical production, was directed and designed by Bob Crowley. The show played its final performance July 8, 2007. Tarzan was played by Josh Strickland. Jane was played by Jenn Gambatese. Terk, Tarzan's best friend, was played by Chester Gregory. Kerchak, Tarzan's ape father was played by Shuler Hensley and Robert Evan. Kala, Tarzan's ape mother was played by Merle Dandridge. Professor Porter (Jane's father) was played by Tim Jerome. Mr. Clayton (Jane's "love interest") was played by Donnie Keshawarz. And Young Tarzan was played by Daniel Manche, Dylan Riley Snyder, J. Bradley Bowers, and Alex Rutherford.

The same version of Tarzan that was played at the Richard Rodgers Theatre played throughout Europe and was a success in the Netherlands.

Tarzan also appeared in the Tarzan Rocks! show at the Theatre in the Wild at Walt Disney World Resort's Disney's Animal Kingdom. The show closed in 2006. The Tarzan Encounter currently plays in Disneyland Park (Paris), similar to the show at Disney's Animal Kingdom.


See main article, Tarzan (radio program).

James H. Pierce and Joan Burroughs Pierce starred in the 1932–34 Tarzan radio series

Tarzan was the hero of two popular radio programs. The first began on 12 September 1932 with James H. Pierce in the role of Tarzan, adapting the novel Tarzan of the Apes in 77 installments, airing three times each week, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Each episode, not counting commercials, ran for about ten minutes. This series was followed by two original stories, written by Rob Thompson, "Tarzan and the Diamond of Ashair", 39 episodes airing every weekday starting 1 May 1935, and "Tarzan and the Fires of Tohr", 39 episodes, airing during 1936. Both of these stories Rob Thompson later adapted for the Tarzan comic strip and again for the Dell Tarzan comic book.

The second Tarzan radio program began 1 November 1951 and ran for 75 half-hour episodes, ending on 27 June 1953. Lamont Johnson played Tarzan.[23]


Meanwhile, television had emerged as a primary vehicle bringing the character to the public, as the corpus of Tarzan films, especially those of Johnny Weissmuller and Lex Barker, became staples on Saturday morning TV. In 1958, in the middle of his six-film reign as Tarzan, Gordon Scott filmed three episodes for a prospective television series. The program did not sell, and in 1966 the three pilots were edited into a 90-minute television feature entitled Tarzan and the Trappers.

A live action Tarzan series starring Ron Ely ran on NBC 1966–1968 (57 hour-long episodes). The executive producer was Sy Weintraub, and the series was basically a follow-on to Weintraub's series of Tarzan films that began with Tarzan's Greatest Adventure in 1959. Weintraub had dispensed with Jane and portrayed his ape man as well-spoken and sophisticated. Though Ely's Tarzan did not have Jane, he was accompanied by Cheeta the chimpanzee from the movies and a child sidekick, the orphan boy Jai (Manuel Padilla, Jr.), who also played the similar roles of Ramel and Pepe in Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966) and Tarzan and the Great River (1967). The character Jai first appeared in the 1962 film Tarzan Goes to India, played by a young actor of the same name.

An animated series from Filmation, Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, aired from 1976–1977, with new and repeat episodes in the anthology programs Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour (1977–1978), Tarzan and the Super 7 (1978–1980), The Tarzan/Lone Ranger Adventure Hour (1980–1981), and The Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour) (1981–1982). In that show, Tarzan is voiced by Robert Ridgely and Danton Burroughs.[24]

Following this Joe Lara starred in the title role in Tarzan in Manhattan (1989), an offbeat TV movie, and would later return in a completely different interpretation in Tarzan: The Epic Adventures (1996), a new live-action series. In between the two productions with Lara, Tarzán, a half-hour syndicated series, ran from 1991 through 1994. In this version of the show, Tarzan was portrayed by Wolf Larson as a blond environmentalist, with Jane turned into a French ecologist.

Disney’s animated series The Legend of Tarzan (2001–2003) was a spin-off from its animated film with Michael T. Weiss as the voice of Tarzan (see Tarzan and Jane in "Animated Films" above).

The latest television series was the live-action Tarzan (2003), which starred male model Travis Fimmel and updated the setting to contemporary New York City with Jane as a police detective. The series failed to meet studio expectations and was cancelled after only eight episodes.

Netflix aired an animated series titled Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan and Jane set in modern-day where 16-year-old Tarzan (voiced by Giles Panton) returns from the African jungle to a London boarding school where he meets Jane (voiced by Rebecca Shoichet), who helps him solve environmental injustice, crimes and mysteries.[25]

Television sketches/spoofs

A 1981 television special, The Muppets Go to the Movies, features a short sketch entitled "Tarzan and Jane". Lily Tomlin plays Jane opposite The Great Gonzo as Tarzan. In addition, the Muppets have made reference to Tarzan on half a dozen occasions since the 1960s.

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on August 14, 1981 featured a Tarzan sketch in which Johnny Carson and Betty White portray Tarzan and Jane as a bickering married couple.

In an episode of The Fairly OddParents, a spoof of Tarzan appears as "Lord of the Drapes", and "Lord of the Shapes", instead of Lord of the Apes.

Series one, episode two of The Two Ronnies includes a "Tarzan in Suburbia" sketch with Ronnie Barker as Tarzan.

The British ITV Schools series Writers' Workshop has a 1976 episode called "Our Hero", discussing the character of Tarzan and featuring Arne Gordon as Tarzan in an extended sketch.

Saturday Night Live featured recurring sketches with the speech-impaired trio of "Tonto, Tarzan, and Frankenstein's Monster". In these sketches, Tarzan is portrayed by Kevin Nealon.

Animated series

The Japanese Jungle no Ouja Ta-chan (King of the Jungle Ta-chan) series, originally a manga by Tokuhiro Masaya, was based loosely on Tarzan. It featured the characters of Tarzan and his wife Jane, who had become obese after settling down with Tarzan. The series begins as a comical parody of Tarzan, but later expands to other settings, such as a martial arts tournament in China, professional wrestling in America, and even a fight with vampires.

In another anime, One Piece, Roronoa Zoro is seen doing a Tarzan call imitation during the Skypiea arc.

Video games

Taito's 1982 arcade game Jungle King featured a character who resembled Tarzan. Copyright issues required Taito to rename the game, producing Jungle Hunt. The company retained the original character, albeit dressed in safari clothing complete with pith helmet. Gameplay remained unchanged; the player still fought crocodiles and swung from trees, but by ropes instead of vines. Jungle Hunt was subsequently adapted for play on numerous video game consoles and personal computers.

Tarzan Goes Ape was released in the 1980s for the Commodore 64.

Martech Games Ltd released Tarzan in 1986 for the ZX Spectrum, among other computing platforms.

In 1999, games based on Disney's animated film Tarzan were released for the PlayStation, Windows, and Game Boy Color. The PlayStation and Windows version was later ported to the Nintendo 64 in 2000.

Other games focusing on Disney's version of Tarzan include Tarzan Untamed (2001) for the PlayStation 2 and GameCube and Disney's Tarzan: Return to the Jungle (2002) for the Game Boy Advance. Characters from the animated film have also appeared in Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure and Kingdom Hearts.

In the first Rayman, a Tarzanesque version of Rayman named Tarayzan appears in the Dream Forest.


There have been several Tarzan View-Master reels and packets, plus numerous Tarzan coloring books, children's books, follow-the-dots and activity books.

In the film Histoire de Pen there is a character named after Tarzan and another named after The Phantom.

Superman's Song by the Canadian rock band the Crash Test Dummies compares Tarzan unfavourably to Superman.

One Leg Too Few is a comedy sketch by Peter Cook concerning a one-legged man attempting to audition for the role of Tarzan.

There is a song by Danish pop group Toy-Box called "Tarzan & Jane", first released as a single in Germany in 1998, and then released worldwide in 1999 to coincide with the release of the Disney film Tarzan (see "Film").

Authorized filmography

Silents Era

Feature Films:

Studio Film title Starring Produced by Directed by Theatrical release DVD release Notes
National Film Corporation of America Tarzan of the Apes Elmo Lincoln William Parsons Scott Sidney 1918 The Film Detective: The Tarzan Vault Collection based on the first part of the novel Tarzan of the Apes
National Film Corporation of America The Romance of Tarzan Elmo Lincoln William Parsons
Isadore Bernstein
Wilfred Lucas 1918 (considered lost) based on the second part of the novel Tarzan of the Apes
Goldwyn Pictures The Revenge of Tarzan Gene Pollar Samuel Goldwyn
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Harry Revier
George M. Merrick
1920 (considered lost) Based on the first part of the novel The Return of Tarzan
Film Booking Offices of America Tarzan and the Golden Lion James Pierce Edwin C. King J. P. McGowan 1927 Alpha Home Entertainment DVD based on the novel Tarzan and the Golden Lion. Cast includes Boris Karloff.

Silent Serials

Studio Film title Starring Produced by Directed by Theatrical release DVD release Notes
National Film Corporation of America The Son of Tarzan P. Dempsey Tabler David P. Howells Arthur J. Flaven
Harry Revier
1920 Alpha Home Entertainment DVD Based on the novel The Son of Tarzan
Numa Pictures Corporation The Adventures of Tarzan Elmo Lincoln Louis Weiss Robert F. Hill
Scott Sidney
1921 The Film Detective: The Tarzan Vault Collection Based on the second part of the novel The Return of Tarzan
Universal Pictures Tarzan the Mighty Frank Merrill Unknown Jack Nelson
Ray Taylor
1928 (considered lost) Though nominally based on Jungle Tales of Tarzan, it is mostly an original story and includes only a few scenes and themes from that collection of short stories.[26]
Universal Pictures Tarzan the Tiger Frank Merrill Unknown Henry MacRae 1929 Alpha Home Entertainment DVD Based on the novel Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar
Filmed as a silent but partially dubbed to become the first Tarzan sound film; Last silent serial

Sound Era

Franchise films:

Studio Film title Starring Produced by Directed by Theatrical release DVD release Notes
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Tarzan the Ape Man Johnny Weissmuller Irving Thalberg W. S. Van Dyke 1932 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Johnny Weissmuller First MGM film
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Tarzan and His Mate Johnny Weissmuller Bernard H. Hyman Cedric Gibbons 1934 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Johnny Weissmuller
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Tarzan Escapes Johnny Weissmuller Bernard H. Hyman
Philip Goldstone
Jack Cummings
Richard Thorpe 1936 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Johnny Weissmuller
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Tarzan Finds a Son! Johnny Weissmuller Sam Zimbalist Richard Thorpe 1939 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Johnny Weissmuller Johnny Sheffield debuts as "Boy"
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Tarzan's Secret Treasure Johnny Weissmuller B.P. Fineman Richard Thorpe 1941 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Johnny Weissmuller
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Tarzan's New York Adventure Johnny Weissmuller Frederick Stephani Richard Thorpe 1942 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Johnny Weissmuller sixth and final appearance of Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane
Last MGM film
RKO Pictures Tarzan Triumphs Johnny Weissmuller Sol Lesser Wilhelm Thiele 1943 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Johnny Weissmuller: Volume Two franchise moves from MGM to RKO under producer Sol Lesser. Jane does not appear in this or the next film.
RKO Pictures Tarzan’s Desert Mystery Johnny Weissmuller Sol Lesser Wilhelm Thiele 1943 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Johnny Weissmuller: Volume Two
RKO Pictures Tarzan and the Amazons Johnny Weissmuller Sol Lesser Kurt Neumann 1945 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Johnny Weissmuller: Volume Two Jane returns to the series, now played by Brenda Joyce.
RKO Pictures Tarzan and the Leopard Woman Johnny Weissmuller Sol Lesser Kurt Neumann 1946 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Johnny Weissmuller: Volume Two
RKO Pictures Tarzan and the Huntress Johnny Weissmuller Sol Lesser Kurt Neumann 1947 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Johnny Weissmuller: Volume Two eighth and last appearance of Johnny Sheffield as "Boy"
RKO Pictures Tarzan and the Mermaids Johnny Weissmuller Sol Lesser Robert Florey 1948 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Johnny Weissmuller: Volume Two Last film to star Weissmuller
partially filmed in Mexico
RKO Pictures Tarzan's Magic Fountain Lex Barker Sol Lesser Lee Sholem 1949 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Lex Barker first film to star Lex Barker. Fifth and final appearance of Brenda Joyce as Jane.
RKO Pictures Tarzan and the Slave Girl Lex Barker Sol Lesser Lee Sholem 1950 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Lex Barker
RKO Pictures Tarzan's Peril Lex Barker Sol Lesser Byron Haskin 1951 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Lex Barker partially filmed in Kenya
RKO Pictures Tarzan's Savage Fury Lex Barker Sol Lesser Cy Endfield 1952 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Lex Barker
RKO Pictures Tarzan and the She-Devil Lex Barker Sol Lesser Kurt Neumann 1953 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Lex Barker Final film to star Lex Barker
RKO Pictures Tarzan's Hidden Jungle Gordon Scott Sol Lesser Harold D. Schuster 1955 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Gordon Scott First film to star Gordon Scott
Final RKO Picture produced film.
Final Black-and-white film originally produced for theaters.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Tarzan and the Lost Safari Gordon Scott Sol Lesser
John Croydon
H. Bruce Humberstone 1957 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Gordon Scott first Tarzan film in color
TV film Tarzan and the Trappers Gordon Scott Sol Lesser Charles F. Haas
Sandy Howard
1958 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Gordon Scott A black and white pilot film, re-edited from three unaired TV episodes and issued to theaters. The re-edited version was finally aired on TV in 1966.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Tarzan's Fight for Life Gordon Scott Sol Lesser H. Bruce Humberstone 1958 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Gordon Scott in color, as would be all subsequent Tarzan films;
last Tarzan film produced by Sol Lesser
the last in the franchise to follow the Weissmuller formula of a pidgin-speaking Tarzan living in a treehouse with Jane. Final appearance of the Jane character in the mainstream Tarzan film franchise until 1981.
Paramount Pictures Tarzan's Greatest Adventure Gordon Scott Sy Weintraub
Harvey Hayutin
John Guillermin 1959 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Gordon Scott first of the Sy Weintraub productions, revamping the character as an educated lone adventurer
Paramount Pictures Tarzan the Magnificent Gordon Scott Sy Weintraub
Harvey Hayutin
Robert Day 1960 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Gordon Scott Not based on the Burroughs novel of the same name
Last film to star Gordon Scott
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Tarzan Goes to India Jock Mahoney Sy Weintraub John Guillermin 1962 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Jock Mahoney & Mike Henry First film to star Jock Mahoney
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Tarzan's Three Challenges Jock Mahoney Sy Weintraub Robert Day 1963 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Jock Mahoney & Mike Henry Last film to star Jock Mahoney
American International Pictures Tarzan and the Valley of Gold Mike Henry Sy Weintraub Robert Day 1966 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Jock Mahoney & Mike Henry First film to star Mike Henry
Paramount Pictures Tarzan and the Great River Mike Henry Sy Weintraub
Steve Shagan
Robert Day 1967 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Jock Mahoney & Mike Henry
Paramount Pictures Tarzan and the Jungle Boy Mike Henry Sy Weintraub
Robert Day
Robert Gordon 1968 WB: The Tarzan Collection Starring Jock Mahoney & Mike Henry Last film to place Tarzan in the present day
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Tarzan the Ape Man Miles O'Keeffe Bo Derek John Derek 1981 First and only film to star Miles O'Keeffe
First appearance of Jane since Tarzan's Fight for Life in 1958 and last time her surname is "Parker" instead of "Porter"
Last appearance of Cheeta
First film to treat Tarzan as a 1910s period piece, which becomes the norm afterwards
Warner Bros Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes Christopher Lambert Hugh Hudson
Stanley S. Canter
Hugh Hudson 1984 First and only film to star Christopher Lambert
Warner Bros Tarzan and the Lost City Casper Van Dien Stanley S. Canter
Dieter Geissler
Michael Lake
Carl Schenkel 1998 First and only film to star Casper Van Dien
Warner Bros The Legend of Tarzan Alexander Skarsgård Jerry Weintraub
David Barron
Alan Riche
Tony Ludwig
David Yates 2016 First and only film to star Alexander Skarsgård

Serials and remakes

Studio Film title Starring Produced by Directed by Theatrical release DVD release Notes
Principal Distributing Corporation Tarzan the Fearless Buster Crabbe Sol Lesser Robert F. Hill 1933 Also released as edited feature film of same name.
Burroughs-Tarzan Enterprises Inc. The New Adventures of Tarzan Herman Brix Edgar Rice Burroughs
Ashton Dearholt
George W. Stout
Edward Kull
Wilbur F. McGaugh
1935 The Film Detective: The Tarzan Vault Collection Also released as edited two feature films, first The New Adventures of Tarzan (1935) of same name and second feature film version titled Tarzan and the Green Goddess (1938)
Twentieth Century Fox Tarzan’s Revenge Glenn Morris Sol Lesser D. Ross Lederman 1938 Produced by Sol Lesser, after he argued that he still had binding contract to produce at least five Tarzan films, Lesser would later move on to take over the Weissmuller series.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Tarzan, the Ape Man Denny Miller Al Zimbalist Joseph M. Newman 1959 Remake of the 1932 film of same name, starring Johnny Weissmuller

Animated films

Studio Film title Voiced by Produced by Directed by Theatrical release DVD release Notes
Sony Wonder Tarzan of the Apes Unknown Diane Eskenazi
Darcy Wright
Unknown 1999 Direct to video animated feature
Walt Disney Feature Animation Tarzan Tony Goldwyn Bonnie Arnold Kevin Lima
Chris Buck
1999 Theatrical Animated Feature Film.
Walt Disney Television Animation Tarzan & Jane Michael T. Weiss Steve Loter Victor Cook
Steve Loter
2002 Direct to video animated feature, edited from three episodes of the Disney's animated TV series The Legend of Tarzan
Disneytoon Studios Tarzan II Harrison Chad Carolyn Bates
Jim Kammerud
Leslie Hough<
Brian Smith 2005 Direct to video animated feature.
Summit Entertainment Tarzan Kellan Lutz Reinhard Klooss
Robert Kulzer
Reinhard Klooss 2013 CGI/Motion Capture German film.


Tarzan originated in a series of novels, from which a large number of serial films were derived. Television later emerged as a primary vehicle bringing the character to the public. From the mid-1950s, all the extant sound Tarzan films became staples of Saturday morning television aimed at young and teenaged viewers. In 1958, movie Tarzan Gordon Scott filmed three episodes for a prospective television series. The program did not sell, but a number of later series were produced.

Title Aired Episodes Broadcaster Type Tarzan actor Jane actress Notes
Tarzan 1966–68 57 NBC TV series Ron Ely None. Produced by Sy Weintraub.
Tarzan's Jungle Rebellion (1967) (two-part season 2 episode "The Blue Stone of Heaven" from the NBC TV series, also released to theaters)
Tarzan's Deadly Silence (1970) (two-part season 1 TV series episode "The Deadly Silence," also released to theaters)
Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle 1976–80 36 CBS Animated TV series Robert Ridgely Linda Gary (guest only, in episode 30) Produced by Filmation; episodes later incorporated into the Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour (1977–78), Tarzan and the Super 7 (1978–80), The Tarzan/Lone Ranger Adventure Hour (1980–81), and The Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour) (1981–82).
Tarzan in Manhattan 1989-04-15 1 CBS TV movie Joe Lara Kim Crosby
Io Jane, tu Tarzan [it] 1989 4 RAI TV miniseries Sebastiano Somma Carmen Russo
Tarzán 1991–94 75 TF1, syndication (U.S.) TV series Wolf Larson Lydie Denier In this version, Tarzan is a blond environmentalist, and Jane is a French ecologist.
Tarzan: The Epic Adventures 1996–97 22 Syndication (U.S.) TV series Joe Lara None Tarzan's Return – two part TV pilot.
The Legend of Tarzan 2001–02 39 UPN Animated TV series Michael T. Weiss Olivia d'Abo Produced by Disney as a spin-off from its animated film.
Tarzan 2003 8 The WB TV series Travis Fimmel Sarah Wayne Callies This version is set in contemporary New York City, with Jane as a police detective. Cancelled after eight episodes.
Tarzan and Jane 2017 13 Netflix TV series Giles Panton Rebecca Shoichet


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Unauthorized films

Actors who have portrayed Tarzan

On film (adult)

On film (youth)

On stage

On radio

On television

In video games


  1. ^ Tarzan of the Movies, Gabe Essoe, 1968
  2. ^ "Leads John Wayne by $725 Million: Tarzan May Be 1st Film Star to Gross $1 Billion at Boxoffice". The Journal Times. 30 May 1965. p. 15. Retrieved 19 April 2022 – via Producer Sy Weintraub, who owns the Tarzan gold mine, discloses that Tarzan movies have grossed more than $750 million. Closest competitor is Wayne with $25 million.
  3. ^ Mike Fleming (2 June 2011). "Craig Brewer Makes 'Tarzan' Deal, Writing Ape Man Saga As Trilogy". Deadline.
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  9. ^ "Exclusive: Alexander Skarsgård Isn't Sure About Tarzan - CraveOnline". 4 April 2013.
  10. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (10 April 2013). "'Tarzan' Dying On The Vine At Warner Bros?".
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  12. ^ Kroll, Justin (11 December 2013). "Samuel L. Jackson in Talks for 'Tarzan' at Warner Bros. (EXCLUSIVE)".
  13. ^ "'Tarzan' to Swing Into Theaters July 1, 2016". Variety. 2014-02-11. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
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  15. ^ McNary, Dave (9 August 2010). "'Tarzan' returns in 3D".
  16. ^ "Promo Images for Pompeii , Tarzan 3D and Step Up 4 -". 2 November 2011.
  17. ^ "Promo Posters and Synopses for TARZAN 3D and THE IMPOSSIBLE; First Synopsis for THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES". Collider. 4 November 2011.
  18. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (4 May 2012). "'Twilight Saga's Kellan Lutz To Play Tarzan In Constantin Movie".
  19. ^ "Steve Sipek aka Steven Hawkes - The Wild Eye". 10 January 2008.
  20. ^ KINGOFTHEJUNGLEWORLD (30 September 2007). "KARZAN MASTER OF THE JUNGLE". Archived from the original on 2021-12-12 – via YouTube.
  21. ^ "BUNKUM - Interview with Steve Hawkes".
  22. ^ p.85 Hollis, Tim Glass Bottom Boats & Mermaid Tails: Florida's Tourist Springs Stackpole Books
  23. ^ Robert R. Barrett, Tarzan on Radio, Radio Spirits, 1999.
  24. ^ "The Animated Tarzan". Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  25. ^ Spangler, Todd (June 3, 2015). "Netflix Orders 4 Animated Kids' Shows, Including 'Tarzan and Jane' Series". Variety. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
  26. ^ "ERBzine 0592: Tarzan the Mighty".