Edgar Rice Burroughs introduced audiences to his character Tarzan in a 1912 pulp magazine followed two years later by the novel Tarzan of the Apes. Tarzan became so popular that Burroughs followed up with sequels into the 1940s — a good two dozen.
Tarzan was a natural for the movies as well — a beefy do-gooder wearing a loincloth — ready when you are C.B. — and film-goers only had to wait until 1918 to leer at their skimpily attired hero, his similarly clothed mate, and a chimpanzee who was totally naked. Elmo Lincoln was born on February 6, 1889, and as onlookers gathered around him cooing and admiring the little tyke in his little diaper, they little realized that they were looking at the future mighty man of the jungle, already in his loincloth and ready to swing. (Well, maybe not entirely ready: Elmo was afraid of heights and required a stand-in to do his swinging for him. Chances are pretty good he was afraid of lions as well.)
Elmo may have been born to play Tarzan, but he got to the role by a circuitous route through a dozen other films, some notable (Birth of a Nation, Intolerance) but not for his appearance. Tarzan of the Apes took theaters by storm. It was the most faithful to its source of all the film adaptations: Lord and Lady Greystoke are bound for Africa, when their ship is taken over by mutineers. The sailor Binns saves them from being murdered, but they are marooned on the tropical coast, where they die. Their infant son is adopted (unofficially) by Kala, an ape, who raises him as her own. Little Tarzan grows up never noticing that he is not as hairy as his siblings. Hairy or not, he becomes king of the apes. Binns returns to Africa, discovers the ape man and reports this to his family in England. An expedition under the leadership of a Professor Porter sets out to find Tarzan. In the meantime, Kala has been killed by a native, and is avenged by Tarzan — now an adult and played by Elmo Lincoln. This naturally sets off a feud with the natives who kidnap Porter’s daughter Jane. Tarzan rescues Jane, nature steps in, and there go the loincloths.
Tarzan of the Apes covered only the first part of the novel. The remainder became The Romance of Tarzan, released that same year. Lincoln starred in that film and in a 1921 serial The Adventures of Tarzan. Elmo starred in nine other movies before leaving Hollywood at the end of the silent movie era. Tarzan the Ape Man was remade in 1932 starring Johnny Weissmuller, who went on to star in eleven other Tarzan films.
In the late 1930s, Elmo returned to Hollywood,where he frequently found work as an extra.. He appeared, uncredited, in two Tarzan films, playing a circus roustabout in Tarzan’s New York Adventure in 1942 and a fisherman in Tarzan’s Magic Fountain in 1949. He died in 1952.
Zsa Zsa Gabor was born in 1917. Famous for being a celebrity, she was known more for her nine marriages than her career. “I am a marvelous housekeeper: Every time I leave a man I keep his house.”