Tarzan — “The Siren of Omdurmara”

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Tarzan (1951-53) aired “The Siren of Omdurmara” on February 1, 1951. For newcomers, we repeat the introduction to our previous Tarzan episode from February of 2017:  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).

(Above left: The All-Story, October 1912 – Above Right: Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1875-1950)

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.

We have run 7 consecutively numbered episodes from the 1932-36 era, and this is the 9th from the modern 1951-53 era.

“The Siren of Omdurmara” is the story of a beautiful, seductive woman who manipulates powerful or otherwise important men vying for her affections. In this episode she convinces one of her smitten suitors to steal a rare gem from an idol deep in the heart of Africa. As you might imagine, the suitor runs into all sorts of trouble (I believe the possibility of cannibals and dangerous animals are mentioned), not least of which is Tarzan. But the storyline isn’t as straightforward as it seems, for Tarzan is able to discover the secret of just why this beautiful woman holds a certain attitude toward men, which then leads us to learn the truth about “The Siren of Omdurmara.”

Play Time: 26:20

{February of 1951 saw the neigborhood gang housebound with colds, so a kindly older brother visited the corner newsstand in their stead to pick up reading material to help pass the time while they were laid up. fantastic Adventures (1939-53) was two years from the end of its long run, but its covers still held the promise of mystery and adventure. From September of 1947 until its last 1953 issue, fantastic Adventures was a monthly. Older brother’s tastes a little different than that of his younger brother and his friends, Galaxy and F&SF were also picked up this month, both of which were in the first two full years of their run. Galaxy (1950-80) was a monthly, and this issue sported as its cover story Ray Bradbury’s novella “The Fireman,” which would form the nucleus for the expanded 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (1949 to present) saw its first issue in the Fall of 1949. In 1950 it continued as a quarterly and in 1951 with the February issue shown below–its sixth–it went bi-monthly. Continuing its meteoric rise, it soon became a solid monthly with its August 1952 issue, a publishing schedule it would keep through 1990. From 1991 through 2008 it would publish 11 issues a year, combining the October and November issues into a single Oct./Nov. double issue. With its April/May 2009 issue it cut back to a bi-monthly schedule, each issue the size of two monthly issues, and is the schedule it has maintained for the past 8 years.}

[Left: fantastic Adventures, Feb. 1951 – Center: Galaxy, Feb. 1951 – Right: F&SF, Feb. 1951]


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