Tarzan — “Lake of Blood”

Note: This post was imported from an old content-management system, so please excuse any inconsistencies in formatting.

Tarzan (1951-53) aired “Lake of Blood” on May 10, 1951. From 1932-36 Tarzan on radio consisted of three long-running serials: Tarzan of the Apes, Tarzan and the Diamond of Asher, and The Fires of Toth. Tarzan was played by silent film actor James H. Pierce and Jane was played by Burroughs’s daughter Joan. Pierce had attended a party held by Burroughs where he met Joan. ERB asked Pierce if would appear as Tarzan in ERB’s next silent Tarzan picture. Pierce replied that he was to appear in another film titled Wings. ERB nevertheless convinced Pierce to become Tarzan and he gave up his role in Wings. Pierce’s role in Wings was then filled by a relative newcomer named Gary Cooper, and Wings would walk away with the first Oscar for what is now known as Best Picture in 1929. Such blow the fickle winds of Fate. On the up side, James Pierce would wed Joan Burroughs in 1928 and they would remain together until their deaths (Joan in 1972 and James in 1983).

It is impractical to run lengthy serials here, though we have run a few consecutive episodes with specific self-contained adventures. Each of the 1930s Tarzan serials ran to approximately 40 episodes, give or take, and timed out from 8-12 minutes each. There would be a new Tarzan episode in the much longer story arc every two or three days throughout the week. After the trio of initial serials in the 1930s, the Golden Age of radio would produce no further Tarzan adventures until 1951, at which time his new exploits would run until 1953, when many radio shows were gradually being phased out in favor of television. Lamont Johnson now played the Lord of the Jungle, and in contrast to the earlier 1930s serials (and the famous Johnny Weismuller Tarzan pictures), Tarzan would speak intelligent English rather than the “Me Tarzan, you Jane” dialogue many have come to think of when the subject comes up.

“Lake of Blood” begins with Tarzan being summoned to help find a lost native boy who has disappeared while tracking the migration of a species of Crane, the fear being that after having gone missing for several days he has become prey to wild beasts. The extensive search leads to the so-called Lake of Blood, a place taboo to the nearby tribes because no fish can live in it, birds and other flying creatures fall dead if they cross it, and land beasts who wander too close also die. It is a place where none have returned. One thing leads to another as details and secrets unfold. Not only must Tarzan uncover what has happened to the lost boy but the deadly mystery behind the legend of the “Lake of Blood.”

Play Time: 25:55

{May of 1951 saw the neighborhood gang more than eager for June and summer vacation. Like many youngsters, they opted to read comics or their favorite SF magazines rather than their geography or history lessons, and a trip to the corner newsstand or drugstore to acquire more was the perfect excuse to delay their studies. Astounding SF (1930 to present, now Analog), was a bedrock monthly choice. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (1949-present) was one of the relative new kids on the block and in 1951 was still running a mix of original and worthwhile reprint material. It debuted in the Fall of 1949. 1950 saw it as a quarterly, 1951 as a bi-monthly, 1952 it increased to eight issues, and in 1953 it ramped up and became a monthly and would remain so for decades. It became a bi-monthly in 2010 with six double-sized issues. Galaxy was the other relatively new kid on the block, seeing its first issue in October of 1950. The final issue (and only issue that year) came in July of 1980. The cover story to the issue below is as by one Cyril Judd, which was a pseudonym for Cyril M. Kornbluth and Judith Merril.}

[Left: Astounding, May 1951 – Center: F&SF, April 1951 – Right: Galaxy, May 1951]


To view the entire list of weekly Old Time Radio episodes at Tangent Online, click here.