Tarzan Yell!

It’s Johnny Weissmuller’s birthday today, way back in 1904. He was an Olympic champion in swimming with five gold medals, and a record contender in matrimony as well, marrying five times. Some things just come to certain people in handfuls.

And he played Tarzan, the original male bimbo.

I love these quotes in the New York Times obituary from 1984. In the first one he’s marveling at his good fortune to land the perfect job for a good looking, phenomenal swimmer who wasn’t very chatty to begin with.

‘It was like stealing,” he said. ”There was swimming in it, and I didn’t have much to say. How can a guy climb trees, say ‘Me Tarzan, you Jane,’ and make a million?”

And this, regarding his dance with fame:

”The public forgives my acting because they know I was an athlete,” he said on another occasion. ”They know I wasn’t make-believe.”

I’m guessing Weissmuller would be a reality TV star today. He was well built, amorous and carefree. And he got along OK with animals, which will always make you popular with the American public. In fact, people would approach him in public and request that he perform his character’s victory cry – the Tarzan Yell. Imagine being out to dinner and having to deal with an endless string of strangers asking to hear this:

Really, it’s no wonder he was divorced by four of his wives.

Tarzan was raised by apes. If you could choose to join a family of animals ….? (Please, NOT baboons!)

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90 thoughts on “Tarzan Yell!”

  1. I adore Johnny Weismuller. When I was in high school (back when there were four channels on tv), one channel was on 24/7 and in the middle of the night showed “Bijou Theatre”. Often BT would clump movies together in one night, either several by one actor or a series, like the Tarzan films. One week, they did three Tarzan films a night, beginning at 1 p.m. and I set my alarm to get up at 1 for four nights running. One of the things that I was startled to learn was that they used some of the same footage in several of the films. The fearful natives at the bottom of the escarpment showed up quite a few times and Weismuller killed the same lion and alligator more than once. Fascinating. I did always like that Weismuller didn’t take himself as an actor seriously and didn’t put on airs.

    I like polar bears a lot, but they aren’t very pack oriented – so being raised as one probably wouldn’t be that interesting. The lemurs at the zoo seem to have an interesting social life – maybe that might be better.

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    1. Late night classic movies-one of the best things about babysitting! I also loved the Friday night Creature Feature-back to back horror/monster flicks!

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    2. Comedy and classics on Friday nights and piper film club kept me off the streets in the 70s. I loved checking out the flix. Required a bit more effort then and you got to see more variation than in the Internet bubble as discussed yesterday.

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      1. 1:00 PM on KTCA used to have ‘Matinee at the Bijou’ and Dad and I would watch old movies while having lunch some days… still love finding old movies on TV at night.

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  2. I don’t know about joining in a family, but it has been becoming more and more obvious that my cat has a good gig. Whenever she meows at the door, a human lets her out (or in) as the case may be. Food appears regularly in the kitchen bowl and on the friendly neighbors back step. Neighbor also provides a well-stocked birdfeeder for entertainment purposes (and to keep one’s paw in, because who wants to get fat and lazy).

    Boy human dutifully disposes of all leftover undesirable bits of spoils of the hunt and chases away invading Other Cats. A chair with a cushion and blanket has been provided on the porch for napping and relaxation purposes. Catnip grows rampantly in the yard.

    Yup, I think I’m going to see if she wants to swap places for the day-I’ll even save any mouseheads I score for her. Sure, she can’t reach the gas pedal on the car, but she could always take the bus!

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    1. Bonobos are possibly more intelligent than chimps. They are social, The gals rule, I understand, which might be one reason they don’t have a military. And bonobos are the only animal that has a functional “free love” thing going for them. So if I were a bonobo and I saw a hot lady bonobo in the grapefruit section of my grocery store, we could resolve all social tensions right there. Think how much fun that would make shopping. :)

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      1. I heard about them on a radio discussion and only now had a chance to google the video. A form of conflict resolution worth pursuing

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      2. Bonobos are certainly more intelligent than my congresswoman and many conservative commentators. I still see the flying squirrel thing as a big turn-off!

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      3. NO cartoon character is ever dead for good. If you find his remains flattened on some road to the thickness of a sheet of paper, just peel him off the tarmac and give him a quick puff on his lips. He’ll pop back to three dimensions and fly away.

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      4. No matter how much you all torture me, flatten me, or run me thru with a buzz saw I will NOT eat flying squirrel!

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  3. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    I’m pretty happy as a human and with the family I now have, so I will leave this one alone. However, Lou and I are now officially taking applications for 1 or 2 small dogs who want to be members of our family. Working with the shelters is a puzzling venture–sometimes you hear back, sometimes you don’t. And sometimes, in the midst of a dog fantasy romance, you get dumped.

    The topic of the Tarzan Yell, though, is a fascinating favorite.

    I think I’ve mentioned before that Carol Burnett is one of my heros (I own the Collectors Edition of her show). She does/did a killer Tarzan Yell that will clean your sinuses. As kids it was very fun to imitate the Tarzan Yell, then imitate Carol Burnett imitating Tarzan.

    It is one of the great pleasures of life!

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    1. Carol Burnett is fabulous. Can I be her when I grow up? (Btw – if you have any interest in a basset or basset mix, the rescue I worked through to get my hound is a good organization. They sometimes have smaller basset mixes, too.)

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    2. Jacque-Chuck and Don’s (the pet supply store) also hosts adoption events for many rescue organizations as well (and we just like to go to the Highland store to visit Lola, the chinchilla). You can find dates for which breeds are where on their website.

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  4. Otters
    Talk about growing up in a positive environment… They play and laugh and frolic then roll over and do it some more with the otter on the other side
    If there is a power struggle or pecking order they mask it so well by interacting so well that the issue becomes secondary to the real focus which is to celebrate the moment again and again

    Johnny weismueller was a fave. His bad acting went unnoticed by me, I thought that was just the way Tarzan was. Bo Derek did make a good addition in the 1990 version but I’m not sure who had the better breasts
    I remember when I was about 7 or 8 the Minneapolis paper did a fun little ditty in the bottom right corner of the front page where the showed a close up of this beautiful pair of breasts and asked their reading public to offer some feedback as to whether they thought this was ok and the response was huge… Immoral. Scandalous. Pornographic. The next day they showed the full photo of the breasts and they were Johnny weismuellers. Oh we all had a great laugh and the minneapolis public breathed a sigh of relief that the 7 year old city wide had not been morally corrupted by the media.

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    1. This totally cracked me up. Even my 18yr old thought it was funny… this will keep me going all day long. Thanks tim.

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  5. The life of a blackhoof goat sounds rather pampered, except for that barn in the winter. (Where is the pamperer, by the way?)
    But really any kind of bird that floats and drifts lightly high in the air currents. So I suppose the Andean condor. I would still have an ugly face but that’s all right.
    Thanks for the nice comments yesterday. My grandson did not find Dr. Kyle’s words helpful but he does want to glow green like that.
    A story from the imdb: When Weissmuller was introduced to the first Cheetah in his Tarzan films in 1931 (he worked with 8 chimpanzees altogether), the chimp’s trainer told him to show no fear or the animal would attack him. As Weissmuller, dressed in his Tarzan loincloth and hunting knife, walked up to the animal, it bared its teeth, growled at him and lunged as if to attack him. Weissmuller took the knife out of the sheath and held it in front of the chimp’s nose, to make sure he saw and smelled it. He then slammed the animal on the side of the head with the knife handle. He put the knife back in its sheath and held out his hand to the chimp. It glared at him, bared his teeth again, then changed its mind, grinned at Weissmuller and jumped up and hugged him. Weissmuller never had any further problems with the chimp–although other cast and crew members did–and it followed him around like a puppy dog during all the pictures they worked together.

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    1. Maureen O’ Sullivan had a different memory of the chimp. She worked a lot with Cheetah, and I guess he is still alive, relaxing at some chimp retirement facility where his favorite pastime is watching Tarzan movies in which he appears. Maureen has a famous quote on the internet to the effect that Cheetah was gay and hung up on Tarzan, so it was vicious to her.

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      1. There’s a lot of anthropomorphism in those views of Cheetah. I have read a chimp’s “smile” is a simple fear response, and that trainers who have to make a chimp smile for a film role do so by threatening them with physical harm.

        Weissmuller probably succeeding in “taming” the chimp by instilling enough fear in him that he became submissive; Maureen Sullivan got a different reaction because she didn’t try to bully or frighten the chimp, and he regarded her as someone he could dominate.

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    2. Agree with you about those Blackhoofy goats, Clyde-although Niblet is sometimes described as “long-suffering”, which makes sense if you think of it. Imagine having to spend your days listening to T, blevinsing away-uff da.

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      1. Got it, Krista – saving it (and several others of late) for adding to the G.O.A.T.

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  6. If I were a dog I could sleep in a pile with my litter mates, get belly rubs, spend my days trying to get peanut butter out of a kong and wouldn’t need an excuse to lie on my back in the grass on a sunny day. I promise I would do my best to be a dog who was not afraid of thunderstorms and I would only do my “business” outside. I might, however, fall down on the job (much like my hound) if you wanted me to play fetch…that would smack of work.

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  7. Good morning to all:

    How about gorillas? I guess they are the closest to humans as judged by comparing our DNA with that of other animals. I would learn how to live off the land and roam the jungles. I think I might decide to stay in the jungle with the gorillas. It might be better than living with humans.

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  8. I might like to join a pod of dolphins. We could hang around tourist towns looking for distressed human swimmers to rescue. Or humpback whales – they spend a lot of time singing, which would be fun.

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      1. Super-conservatives are more frightening than sharks – they torture you slowly.

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      2. I saw something somewhere that said that sharks weren’t all that fond of dolphins and often shied away. Not sure if it’s true, but it sticks in my memory.

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      3. From what I’ve read, most dolphins are actually too big to be considered attractive prey for sharks, unless they are not fully grown. If you make it to adulthood you’re relatively safe.

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      4. I also think dolphins are known to do a good job of organizing a defense to protect the pod.

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      5. Like most bullies, sharks are easily deflected and intimidated by prey that stands up to them and gives ‘em a good bop on the nose. I would rather not test this thesis, but it must be true; I read it on the internet.

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  9. Morning–

    I think being a dog would be good– if I was like our little indoor dog. As a stray we’re not sure about her early days but she sure did get lucky to come to us.
    Sleeps on our bed, gets to ride in the car, gets lots of loving. Also gets to run around outside with the other dogs and dig in the dirt and bark at cars… I think it would be nice.
    Or maybe a barn swallow? To fly like that….

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  10. Now all we have to do is plug in the benefits of the critter of choice and then figure out how to make the world a better place. Critters do seem to have a right or wrong notion but as for aspirations where would we be without the dream

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  11. I think my handle says it all! Crows and ravens are highly intelligent (Caledonian crows have made tools to solve problems in laboratory tests), playful, adaptable and have a definite sense of humor. Plus, they never have to worry about their blacks fading in the wash.

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    1. I was wondering about where you have been these last few days, CG. Good to hear from you. And totally agree about blacks fading in the wash. Would be fab to be black and shiny no matter how often you get soaked.

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    2. Have you seen the PBS show about crows? Amazing, amazing stuff. They learn faces and somehow teach them to other birds, they mourn dead crows it seems. Lots of things like that.

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    3. Most visitors to the North Shore do not notice the ravens that live along the lake, play in the winds, keep the shore clean, enliven the winter. Wonderful birds; more interesting than the gulls.

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      1. If I ever inherit a resort along Lake Superior, which is looking unlikely now, I have the name picked: Whispering Gulls Lodge. And then I’d sit back and smile and see if any of my guests mentioned the fact that gulls do a great deal of vocalizing but they never, by God, whisper!

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  12. It might be fun to live in a colony of parrots or macaws. You could eat the ripest fruit and exotic nuts and never lack for conversation.

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    1. A friend just met with the owners of a small zoo. There was a fire a few weeks ago, and the woman who ran the zoo (Bridget) was killed because she ran back into the fire to save her mother (who was already out). This meeting this week was to find ways to raise money to keep the zoo healthy now that it has lost its head. And as the folks planned, a parrot in the back of the room kept saying, “Bridget would be proud of you! Bridget would be SO proud of you!”

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      1. Our vet has a macaw who says “Oh Oh” when he is removed from the waiting room for being too noisy.

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      2. Parrots can be a hoot. We have one, Gizmo, and every time the phone rings he says: ” Well, hello” before I can even answer it. It’s impossible to have phone conversation in the same room with him because he chatters along, imitating my voice patterns even though his words are gibberish, He’ll also say “What’s the matter….huh?” and when he wants a treat “I love you.” After he learned to say “I love you,” we couldn’t teach him anything else because he kept saying “I love you,” and we just couldn’t resist. He also has a great laugh and seems to intuit funny situations.

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  13. I now have to go spend the day watching a bunch of old men bowl. Is that not the definition of boring.
    I bet the social structure of wolves or elephants or ravens, or baboons for that matter would require the pack members to do something like that.

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  14. It’s got to be joining up with my Golden Retriever. Absolutely everything that happens to him is the best thing that ever happened to anyone. I would like to approach life that way.

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    1. John – I agree. When I come home, the dogs think it’s the most amazing thing. “Where have you been, we missed you, we love you!!”

      Unlike the cat who says “Where have you been, I’m hungry, where’s my dinner?”

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      1. see, much better to be the cat (or at least my cat)-you never have to yearn for someone to return and as for the food-if the primary house humans are not available, the next door grandma can be counted on for a bit of tuna, chicken, or kitty treats if the meow is plaintive-sounding.

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      2. Just ordered a copy of Kline’s book from Amazon.com. Foud a used hardbound copy for 12 cents.n

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  15. Hm…I think I’d like to join the family of planets. As long as it’s not this one that we seemed determined to wreck. But wouldn’t it be cool to hang out with your siblings, bobbing and spinning along? Maybe you’re one with a little bit of a ‘bling ring’ or a brood of moons.

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    1. Just make sure you’re not out on the fringe and made up of ice – or you may get booted out of the family, like poor Pluto.

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  16. OT, but today’s quotation on A.Word.A.Day spoke to me so loudly that I had to share: “The excesses of our youth are drafts upon our old age, payable with interest, about thirty years after date.” -Charles Caleb Colton, author and clergyman (1780-1832)

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  17. I’d like to be a little baby northern saw-whet owl, living in a big old pine tree with my family. It would be lovely to be in an old white pine forest, flying out in the wind at night, with keen eyesight to help guide me in my first hunt for little white-footed mice. I’d like to know that when I’m old enough, I will be independent and live a wild, free, solitary life until it’s time for a new family of northern saw-whet owls. I’d like to know that there will always be enough old pine trees and mice for me and all of the other owls that I might meet along the way.

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  18. I’d like to be an egret or heron like the ones that fly over our yard enroute from one lake to another. They are so graceful, their wings are so large they can glide on the breezes, it looks like dancing to me. I’ve watched them hunt while wading in the waters – I could do that, I think. Don’t know much about their family life, but I’ve heard the rookeries are really smelly, though – would have to do something about that.

    Sort of OT – An entire rookery – 180 herons on an island along the Mississipi – got wiped out in the recent N. Mpls tornado:
    http://kstp.com/news/stories/S2126827.shtml?cat=1
    I want to soar like that, way above the trees

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    1. Last summer one soared over me and pooped on my head. They poop largely. Just sayin’.

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  19. Barb in Blackhoof, where are you? Just busy I hope, or in lurkitude? Check in so we know you’re all right, then you can go back to being busy.

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