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A Freeway Memorial for Tarzana's Favorite Son

May 24, 1986

The state Senate Transportation Committee's approval of a resolution calling for seven murals depicting the life of Tarzan on freeway underpass walls in Tarzana (Times, May 7) is a long overdue tribute to one of America's most widely read and influential writers.

Edgar Rice Burroughs' creation, Tarzan, is arguably the most famous fictional character of the 20th Century. Next year marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of the first Tarzan book, "Tarzan of the Apes," making the timing of these murals very apt indeed.

Burroughs has long been a victim of neglect by the literary establishment, most of whom judge him by the 50 or so films and countless comic adaptations based on his works without ever having actually read any of his books.

Hopefully, these murals will help lead to a re-examination of Burroughs and his works so that he may obtain the credit he is due and take a place beside other American literary greats like Jack London and Mark Twain.

The murals will also do much to correct the neglect that Tarzana itself has heretofore shown. Several years ago I drove to that town to see if there were any monuments or museums dedicated to Edgar Rice Burroughs and was disappointed to find nothing of the sort.

Finally, an interesting footnote in respect to this newspaper itself; the original Tarzana ranch was purchased by Burroughs from Gen. Harrison Gray Otis, founder of the Los Angeles Times.


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