Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

He Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

He Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle

Article excerpt

Crocodiles. Yes, it was definitely the crocodiles that scared him the most, says Herman Brix, one of the few "Tarzans" approved by the legend's creator, Edgar Rice Burroughs. "There was only a single sharpshooter up in the trees to keep the croc away from me," the actor remembers with chilling clarity even after all these years.

Mr. Brix, who also worked under the name Bruce Bennett, was a silver medalist in the shot put at the 1928 Olympic Games. When he was tapped in 1935 to play Tarzan, the nobleman raised in the jungle, it was for a particular reason, he says.

"Burroughs was very concerned that Hollywood only wanted the jungle man," he says. Brix says the author had bigger issues on his mind with the character. He wanted to make a movie that would show the whole Tarzan. "This was a man who had mastered both the jungle and civilization. It was a very compelling idea for its time," he says thoughtfully as he enjoys a large Cobb salad sandwich during an interview last week. "And it still is today." According to the Edgar Rice Burroughs Bibliograph Society, the part of Tarzan requires a complete performer who has the physique of someone raised in the wild and the nobility of Lord Greystoke, Tarzan's alter ego. The society says Brix was that complete man, the "most fearless, educated, and best actor who ever portrayed Tarzan." Today, Brix. who has already watched his grandchildren go to college, says that the world in which he thrived as an athlete and worked as an actor is nearly gone. "The Olympics of my day were 100 percent amateur, nobody ever made any money at all," he says. While he doesn't blame the individual athletes who seek funding to continue training, he says "today, especially with pros competing, {the Olympics are} nothing more than an extension of professional sports, with everybody looking for a way to make money." The multifaceted actor who often helped dress sets and hang lights in his early movies says that group success was paramount to the athletes of his day. "We all watched each other's events and cheered each other on," he says. He recalls the day he lost the gold to a teammate from the Midwest. …

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