With the return to the jungle at a fever pitch across the country, we thought it'd be a good time to look back through the Warner Bros. Film and Television Library and take a peek at some of the other actors who have donned the loin cloth over the past 80+ years. Enjoy this glimpse through history as you get ready to swing into theaters this Friday for The Legend of Tarzan.

Johnny Weissmuller (1932-48)

johnny weissmuller lets out the now-iconic Tarzan yell in Tarzan and His Mate.
Johnny Weissmuller lets out his now-iconic Tarzan yell in 1934's Tarzan and His Mate.

A five-time gold medal winner swimmer in the Olympics, Johnny Weissmuller would become the most famous cinematic Tarzan starring in a dozen films between 1932 and 1948. His "Tarzan yell" was so iconic that it would be dubbed into future Tarzan presentations starring other actors. Maureen O'Sullivan starred as Jane Parker in the first six Tarzan films with Weissmuller, who portrayed the title character as an uneducated man who barely spoke English, which was at odds with the original character created by Tarzan creator/writer Edgar Rice Burroughs.

maureen o' sullivan as jane parker and johnny weissmuller as tarzan have fun on the set of Tarzan Escapes with cheetah the chimp
Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane Parker and Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan team up with Cheeta the chimp to play a game of Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil and See No Evil on the set of 1936's Tarzan Escapes.

Lex Barker (1949-53)

Lex Barker stars as Tarzan in 1950's Tarzan and the Slave Girl
Lex Barker as Tarzan in the 1950 film, Tarzan and the Slave Girl.

Replacing Johnny Weissmuller was this former major in the army. The 6'4" Lex Barker moved to Los Angeles following World War II in search of an acting career which resulted in his five-film tenure as Tarzan between 1949 and 1953. 

joyce mackenzie starred as jane opposite lex barker in 1953's Tarzan and the She-Devil
Joyce MacKenzie was the fifth different actress to play Jane in the five Lex Barker films, appearing in the final Barker entry, 1953's Tarzan and the She-Devil

Gordon Scott (1955-60)

gordon scott as tarzan with young extras on the set of 1957's "tarzan and the lost safari"
Gordon Scott spends time with some young extras on the set of 1957's Tarzan and the Lost Safari in Narobi, Africa. Despite this B&W pic, this was actually the very first Tarzan film to be shot in color.

Born Gordon Werschkul in Portland, Oregon, he would change his name to Gordon Scott when Tarzan film producer Sol Lesser felt his last name was too similar to Johnny Weissmuller's. Between 1955 and 1960, Scott would wear the loin cloth for six films (including 1958's Tarzan and the Trappers, which was originally shot as three pilot episodes for a television series but when the TV project was abandoned the three episodes were edited together and released in theaters). In his final two Tarzan films—1959's Tarzan's Greatest Adventure and 1960's Tarzan the Magnificent—Scott's characterization changed forever the screen version of Tarzan as he became a literate character who could speak eloquently as Edgar Rice Burroughs originally created. Tarzan's Greatest Adventure is still considered by the hard-core fans as one of the best Tarzan films. 

gordon scott as tarzan and future tarzan jock mahoney in 1960's tarzan the magnificent
Gordon Scott in his final appearance as Tarzan in 1960's Tarzan the Magnificent. Ironically, future Tarzan Jock Mahoney (far right) played the villain Coy Banton this time around.

Denny Miller (1959)

denny miller the first blond lord of the jungle starred in the 1959 remake of Tarzan the Ape Man
Denny Miller made one sole appearance as the King of the Jungle in the 1959 remake of Tarzan the Ape Man.

A basketball player at UCLA when he was discovered on the Sunset Strip by a Hollywood agent, Denny Miller became the first blond Tarzan in the 1959 low-budget remake of 1932's Tarzan the Ape Man. So low was the budget that footage from Weissmuller's Tarzan films were used to defray costs. This was Miller's only outing on the vines, although some may remember him for his later guest starring role as Tongo the Ape Man on the classic comedy series Gilligan's Island (he also appeared on the comic isle in another episode as Duke, a lost surfer). 

denny miller and joanna barnes share a moment in the water in 1959's tarzan the ape man
Denny Miller and Joanna Barnes (as Jane Parker) share a swim and a laugh in 1959's Tarzan the Ape Man.

Jock Mahoney (1962-63)

jock mahoney as tarzan and ricky der as kashi in 1963's Tarzan's Three Challenges
Jock Mahoney as Tarzan and Ricky Der as Kashi in 1963's Tarzan's Three Challenges.

Jock Mahoney's long and winding road to the Tarzan role was a bizarre one indeed. Initially he lost out to Lex Barker in 1949—as the replacement for Johnny Weissmuller. Then he played the villain opposite Barker's replacement Gordon Scott in 1960's Tarzan the Magnificent. Yet two years later, Mahoney finally got his chance to wear the loin cloth: first in 1962's Tarzan Goes to India with his final outing the following year in Tarzan's Three Challenges. Mahoney was at the ripe age of 44 when he starred in Tarzan's Three Challenges making him the oldest actor to ever play the role. 

jock mahoney and the beautiful simi garewal in 1962's Tarzan goes to india
Jock Mahoney in his first outing as Tarzan and the stunningly beautiful Simi Garewal in 1962's Tarzan Goes to India.

Mike Henry (1966-68)

mike henry as tarzan in 1966's Tarzan and the Valley of Gold
Mike Henry in 1966's Tarzan and the Valley of Gold, the first of his three outings in the jungle.

Following a six-year career in the NFL as a linebacker with both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Rams, Mike Henry turned to acting and scored the role of the new Tarzan following Jock Mahoney. All three of his Tarzan films were shot in 1965 and then released over the next three years. Henry reportedly turned down the Tarzan television series, which ultimately went to Ron Ely.

mike henry and nancy kovack in tarzan and the valley of gold
There was a bit of a James Bond element brought to the fore in 1966's Tarzan and the Valley of Gold. Complete with a Bond-type-girl in Nancy Kovack pictured here with Henry. 

Ron Ely (1966-67)

Ron Ely starred as the King of the Jungle on both seasons of the NBC series, Tarzan.
Ron Ely starred as the King of the Jungle on both seasons of the NBC series, Tarzan, in 1966-67.

At 6'4" with teen idol looks, Ron Ely made a formidable presence on the small screen during the first Tarzan television series which ran for two season on NBC from 1966-67. Throughout the 56 episodes, Ely continued the more recent (and more authentic) interpretation of Lord Greystoke as a sophisticated, articulate jungle adventurer as seen in the films of Gordon Scott, Jock Mahoney and Mike Henry. The guest stars during the two season run was a formidable roster indeed, including the likes of James Whitmore, George Kennedy, Helen Hayes and James MacArthur (playing mother and son), James Earl Jones, Robert Loggia, Sally Kellerman, Fernando Lamas, Jack Elam and former big-screen Tarzan Jock Mahoney. Not to mention the recurring appearance of screen legend Julie Harris as missionary Charity Jones.

Ron Ely and young Manuel Padilla, Jr. starred in both seasons of the NBC adventure series, Tarzan, in 1966-67
Ron Ely and young Manuel Padilla, Jr., who also appeared in the films Tarzan and the Valley of Gold and Tarzan and the Great River, starred in both seasons of the NBC adventure series, Tarzan, in 1966-67

Miles O'Keeffe (1981)

miles o'keeffe as tarzan and bo derek as jane in 1981's tarzan the ape man
Miles O'Keeffe starred as Tarzan and Bo Derek was Jane in 1981's remake of Tarzan the Ape Man.

In the third cinematic version of Tarzan the Ape Man, director John Derek turned the story inside out by making it all from the point of view of Jane (portrayed by his wife, Bo Derek). In fact, the Tarzan character (played by Miles O'Keeffe in his film debut) doesn't appear until the mid-way point of the film. While the film got savaged by the critics, it was still a big box office success. Interestingly enough, the film's stunt coordinator was former Tarzan Jock Mahoney.

miles o'keeffe as tarzan in 1981's tarzan the ape man
Originally actor Lee Canalito was cast as Tarzan opposite star/producer Bo Derek, who told the New York Times at the time of the movie's release: "Lee had a beautiful quality with a Michelangelo face but he wasn't the proud lord of the jungle. We wanted him to look like a sculpture." And judging by this pic of the last minute replacement, Miles O'Keeffe, she got what she wanted. 

Christopher Lambert (1984)

christopher lambert stars as tarzan in the 1984 film, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan.
Christopher Lambert as Tarzan in the 1984 film, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes.

With 1984's Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the ApesChristopher Lambert starred in the first Tarzan film to receive an Academy Award nomination—in fact, Greystoke received three noms: "Best Support Actor" (Sir Ralph Richardson, who died shortly after filming), "Best Adapted Screenplay" and "Best Makeup."

Future three-time Golden Globe nominee Andie MacDowell made her big screen debut as Jane Porter but due to her southern accent, her dialogue was later dubbed by Glenn Close.
Future three-time Golden Globe nominee Andie MacDowell made her big screen debut as Jane Porter, but due to her southern accent, her dialogue was later dubbed by Glenn Close.

That's it for our journey through the jungle of Tarzan titles in the illustrious Warner Bros. Film and Television Library and, like you, we eagerly await this Friday which marks a new birth of this iconic character with the release of The Legend of Tarzan

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