[Steve Hawkes - then and now]

Are you a Tarzan movie fan?
Yes, I am a Tarzan movie fan. I saw every movie that was put on the screen. My friend Johnny Weissmuller gave me a library of all of his movies. I'm the only one that possesses all of his movies.

I have gone on many personal appearances as Tarzan along with my friend Johnny Weissmuller, who once called me the best looking Tarzan of all!! I was proud to hear that from the man I admired so very much.

How did Weissmuller and his movies influence you? Do you remember the first Tarzan film you saw?
Johnny Weissmuller was the greatest Tarzan that ever lived! I first saw his movie, "Tarzan Finds A Son" in 1950. Being only 8 years old, it was hard to comprehend the greatness of such a man above all other men. A dream was born in my heart. As a young boy I loved all the animals God had made. The desire to be like Johnny Weissmuller was strong. I pursued it all my life.

In 1959 I escaped a communist country, came to Canada and learned the English language. I became a long distance swimmer. I swam Lake Ontario in 1964-1965 and won 1st place in a contest as Mr. Canada.

Tarzan en la gruta del oro (1969, aka King of the Jungle) was your first film; very little is known about this movie - where was it filmed? Was it filmed it English? It was unauthorized and when shown in the U.S. you were referred to as Zan rather than Tarzan, was this legal issue made clear to you before production started?
"King of the Jungle" was filmed in Suriname, South America, Florida, Africa, Spain and Italy. It was filmed in English. It was later dubbed in Spanish and Italian. The American producers, in the middle of the film, ran out of the money due to the flood in South America. They lost all the equipment and almost all the footage. It took approximately 4 months for the shoot. The shooting was then shuttled from South America to Africa, Spain, Italy, and Florida. The company was unable to pay the Edgar Rice Burroughs fees and they negotiated a lesser amount by changing it from Tarzan to Zan.

And Tarzan y el arco iris (1972)?
The second movie, "Tarzan and the Brown Prince," the rights were paid in full. I was present when the contracts were signed. I'm not sure whether the Italian's paid their dues or not. Since they changed the name Tarzan to Zan, it was no longer necessary to get Edgar Rice Burroughs' permission.

So "Tarzan and the Brown Prince" was fully licensed and authorized. I don't know how you could have gotten the information that my movies were unauthorized when I know different. My movies have been playing in the USA and Canada for the past 30 years.

Have you seen the recent Disney film?
I did see the Disney film as well, and I thought it was okay. Too bad he wasn't a better looking Tarzan.

You run an animal sanctuary (www.jungleworld.org); how did this come about? What animals live there? And is it open to the public?
On October 31st, 1970, during the filming of "Tarzan and the Brown Prince," I was burned over 90% of my body. And guess who saved my life? A Lion named Samson. He dragged me out of the burning fire and ripped off the ropes I was staked down with. Then, I realized what the animals were all about. The love that I have for them can not be measured by anything that life offers. God did not put animals on this earth to be killed, nor man to hunt them down and enjoy their agonies as they die. That's why if there ever was such a man as Tarzan, I'm probably the closest one to him.

I run a private Sanctuary for the animals that are mistreated by cruel people. I have 4 tigers, 2 lions, 2 cougars, and a black leopard. It's not open to the public. Financial situations may force me to open up to the public. The cost over the past 30 years and over 50 cats, has cost me 5 million dollars. And now I'm out of money. But I will work my fingers to the bones to provide food for them.

And finally, I've got to ask about Blood Freak (1971); it's a very strange film and one that should be in any cult film fan's collection! You co-wrote, co-directed and starred in it. Please tell how this movie came about.
"Blood Freak" was a sad chapter in my life, an enormous amount of money had been spent to repair my crippled body and it forced me to take any role that was offered to make extra money. "Blood Freak" was one of them. In the middle of the filming the producers went bankrupt. I was forced to take the movie, rewrite the scenes, re-shoot, all just to collect $140,000.

Fortunately after that, I made a movie called "Stevie, Samson and Delilah," using my real life son who was 7 yrs. old at the time. It was a true life story about a boy, a lion and tiger lost in the Everglades.

Thank you very much for your time and for your portrayal of Tarzan - my copies sit proudly on my shelf with all the others, authorized or not.

2000 Matt Winans & Steve Hawkes
Originally Posted 27 March 2000
Last Modified 22 January 2011
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