After 57 years of sharing its identity with a vine-hopping jungle hero, Tarzana is swinging into action with its first Tarzan Movie Festival.
The festival on Saturday will include a loin-cloth costume contest for children, Tarzan T-shirts and posters and, of course, films featuring the fictional character.
And the festival will have an international flavor. Free comic books with the "Me Tarzan, you Jane" dialogue printed in such languages as Swedish, Finnish and Portuguese will be given away.
'For the Heritage'
"It's for kids, and for the heritage of Tarzana," said Don Whittemore, vice president of the local chamber of commerce and organizer of the festival.
Whittemore said his business group has long used a sketch of Tarzan as its logo. But he said the town's 32,000 residents have never truly acknowledged the adventure hero created in 1914 by author Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Burroughs moved to the San Fernando Valley in 1919, using profits from his first novel, "Tarzan of the Apes," to buy a 550-acre goat farm he named the Tarzana Ranch.
The name spread to the entire community in 1928, when its 400 residents voted for Tarzana over "Runnymede," which was the name of a local subdivision.
The Post Office officially recognized the Tarzana name in 1930. The Runnymede Poultry and Berry Assn. was renamed the Tarzana Chamber of Commerce in 1931.
Leah Graver, manager of the 250-member chamber, said Wednesday that the Tarzan Film Festival will become an annual event if Saturday's effort is a success.
Screenings of "Tarzan's Deadly Silence" and "Tarzan's Jungle Rebellion," both released in 1970, will begin at 9 a.m. at the Mann's Valley West theaters, she said.
The theater is situated between an Edgar Rice Burroughs museum in a corner of a Tarzana savings and loan office and the Edgar Rice Burroughs Corp. headquarters. The ashes of Burroughs, who died in 1950 at age 74, are buried beneath a walnut tree in front of the unmarked headquarters building.
His grandson, Danton Burroughs, said Wednesday that the family-run corporation owns the Tarzan trademark and controls the rights to the name and the character.
Burroughs said the company is donating the foreign-language comic books to be given away at Saturday's festival. Ditto the use of Tarzan.
"We license people all over the world. But this one is a courtesy to Tarzana," Burroughs said.