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Ken Maynard and his "Wonder Horse, Tarzan"


Maynard acquired Tarzan around 1925 and the animal was half Arabian and half American Saddle horse.  The horse was often listed on posters, title lobby cards, pressbook ads, et al just below Maynard's name as "his Wonder Horse Tarzan".  The palomino was a frequent helper in the films and as such, the horse got a lot of screen time. The original Tarzan died in 1940, and the story goes that Maynard buried him somewhere in the Hollywood Hills. There's more photos, movie ad/artwork and information on Tarzan in the Old Corral section on Ken Maynard.

How to identify the real Tarzan: If you are standing behind Tarzan, look for a dark spot/birthmark about the size of silver dollar, located high on the right haunch close to the tail.  A good example is STRAWBERRY ROAN (Universal, 1933) and you can see the spot on the real Tarzan in the early reels.  Later, in the chase scene with Maynard ropin' the roan, he's riding one of the Tarzan impersonators, and as the animal turns, you can see that he's 'spotless'.

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website mentions that Tarzan was buried in a defunct stable in the Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles County, California and the grave has been lost to development: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=11572372



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above - Ken is training the original Tarzan ... and one of the Tarzan doubles is seen in the background of this lobby card from SENOR DAREDEVIL (First National, 1926).



(From Old Corral image collection)

Ken Maynard and Tarzan versus the 'Rattler' in the twelve chapter cliffhanger, MYSTERY MOUNTAIN (Mascot, 1934).  Above is the title lobby card for Chapter Two. Note the "Wonder Horse, Tarzan" billing which was commonplace in Maynard's films.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above is Ken Maynard in the early 1930s with Tarzan and Tarzan look-a-likes.  He would use the Tarzan impersonators for stunts as well as 'chase doubles' in hard ridin' scenes rather than risk injury to the real Tarzan.



(From Old Corral image collection)




(From Old Corral image collection)

The story goes that Tarzan was originally trained by Ken to respond to voice commands (during their silent films) rather than hand signals.  In their sound films, Ken was constantly chit-chattin' with Tarzan.  Above are the original Tarzan and Ken in a scene from WHEELS OF DESTINY (Universal, 1933) --- while I didn't check the videotape of this scene, Ken's probably saying somethin' like: "c'mon ol' man ... untie the rope ... that's it old man ... pull the rope loose!"



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above, Ken Maynard on the original Tarzan with the Cole Bros. Circus in Texas, November, 1940.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above, the Monogram Trail Blazers, circa 1943-44.  From L-to-R are Ken Maynard (now riding the white Tarzan II), Bob Steele, and Hoot Gibson. Gibson is riding Rusty, the Wonder Horse which had been earlier used by Jack Randall and Tom Keene in their series at Monogram. When Maynard exited the Trail Blazers, Chief Thunder Cloud came in as the replacement --- Thunder Cloud rode Rusty and Gibson rode a different mount. The original Tarzan died about 1940.



(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above from L-to-R are Hoot Gibson riding Rusty, the Wonder Horse, Betty Miles atop her steed Sonny, and Ken Maynard on Tarzan II from one of the early entries in Monogram's Trail Blazers series (prior to Bob Steele joining the group). The story goes that Betty acquired Sonny from Bill Elliott.  Betty's horse was easy to spot --- had two long white socks on the rightside, two short white socks on the left, and a small white spot on the forehead.  Betty had this horse in the early 1940s, and rode it in Tom Keene's LONE STAR LAW MAN (Monogram, 1941).  However, I've yet to spot Elliott riding this particular Sonny variation.  You can see images of several of the hosses named Sonny that Bill Elliott used by clicking HERE.



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