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Tuesday, Dec 6, 2022
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Tales of Tarzan and the Legacy of Tarzana

If the legend of Tarzan and the community of Tarzana have become inseparable in many people’s minds, it’s all because of one very famous resident: Edgar Rice Burroughs. The connections between Burroughs and the evolution of Tarzana from the late author’s personal estate informs an exhibit currently at the Museum of the San Fernando Valley at 18860 Nordhoff St. in Northridge. Burroughs, author of 1914’s “Tarzan of the Apes” and some two dozen sequel novels, is credited for having seeded the Tarzana community 100 years ago after he relocated his family from Oak Park, Ill., to the 500 acres of prime Valley real estate, which he dubbed Tarzana Ranch in homage to his iconic king of the apes character. Los Angeles Times founder Harrison Gray Otis sold Burroughs the property. On April 27, Scott Tracy Griffin, director of special projects at Tarzana-based Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. — which handles licensing and archives of Burroughs’ creations, including John Carter of Mars — delivered his talk, “Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Los Angeles Legacy” at San Fernando Arts & Cultural Center in Tarzana before about 40 people, including Dr. Suzanne Scheld, California State University – Northridge anthropology department chair, and several of her students. Griffin, who curated the Museum of the Valley exhibition, shared with the Business Journal how the show came about. “David Lustig, a member of the Museum’s board, initially contacted me about assisting in the preparation of an exhibit commemorating the centennial of the founding of Tarzana Ranch,” said Griffin, explaining that the exhibition consists of two series of photos, 10 of them featuring the life of Burroughs and founding of Tarzana, and 10 photos illustrating the history of Tarzan on film, radio and television. Griffin said that putting together the tribute was no easy feat. “It was a challenge to distill Tarzan’s significant media legacy to 10 photos from 52 authorized films, seven television series, and two radio series,” Griffin said. “Additional exhibit materials include film posters, books, memorabilia and a facsimile of the October 1912 pulp magazine The All-Story, which featured the first appearance of the ape man. We plan to enhance the display through future donations of Burroughs and Tarzan archival materials.” Griffin credits Valley Museum President Michel Stevens and his staff for doing a vine-swinging good job.  “The museum has a bright future under Michel’s leadership, and the contributions of its dedicated board of directors, interns and volunteers,” Griffin said. The current Tarzana exhibit runs through late November, at which point it will change to illustrate a new facet on Burroughs.

Michael Aushenker
Michael Aushenker
A graduate of Cornell University, Michael covers commercial real estate for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Prior to the Business Journal, Michael covered the community and entertainment beats as a staff writer for various newspapers, including the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, The Palisadian-Post, The Argonaut and Acorn Newspapers. He has also freelanced for the Santa Barbara Independent, VC Reporter, Malibu Times and Los Feliz Ledger.
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