The cover of Joe Franklin's Nostalgia, May 1990, featured a Vargas girl along with a promise of a story on Jane's Jungle Gent. The actual story, headlined "Hollywood and Vines," featured a photo of Mike as well as photos of several items from Mike's collection.
MIKE SHAW... AND JOE FRANKLIN'S NOSTALGIA
John "Bridge" Martin
Copyright © 2020
The excited, boyish grin of Mike Shaw shone out from page 75 of the second issue of "Joe Franklin's Nostalgia" magazine, which lasted for several issues in the early 1990s. And what ERB fan would not smile like that when holding a coffee-size can of Tarzan Groundnuts, made in Singapore?
Michael (Mike) Shaw, who passed away the morning of Oct. 30, was a happy-go-lucky ERB fan who was passionate about acquiring, trading and selling ERB items, as well as antiques.
Mike Shaw displays a can of Tarzan Groundnuts from Singapore for Joe Franklin's Nostalgia magazine, Vol. 1, No. 2, May 1990, page 75. There was no caption with Mike's name, but fans and friends know that smiling face well.
In preparation for the May 1990 edition of "Nostalgia," (Vol. 1, No. 2), author Joel H. Cohen visited Shaw's home to get photographs of many of Mike's ERB items, including the one of him holding the nut can. Several of the photos were used in the nine-page spread, including one of a vintage Tarzan dart gun target made by Slesinger, a Tarzan of the Apes Jig-Saw puzzle box which contained three different puzzles, and several Big Little Books.
It must have been a thrill for Mike to see his photo in a national magazine but, at the same time, a bit of a disappointment, for none of the photos were identified as coming from his collection and his name was not even used in the article or as a caption to his picture.
In fact, the author's purpose in writing the article appeared to be merely to entertain readers and not necessarily to celebrate Tarzan or Edgar Rice Burroughs other than to use them as a vehicle to help sell the magazine.
The cover itself may have been sufficient to sell a lot of copies as it featured a fetching "Vargas girl." But also on the cover was, at least, a listing of contents which promised an article titled "Jane and Her Jungle Gent—Ape Over Tarzan." But that was an untruth: The actual article had a different title: "Hollywood and Vines."
It is one of many untruths and half-truths that are sprinkled through the text like pepper on a hard-boiled egg, typical of what happens almost every time someone not really familiar with ERB and his creations attempts to become an instant expert and write about the subject.
For instance, Denny Miller is mentioned twice, both times as Dennis Miller. True, Denny was born Dennis but he used Denny all his life and in the credits lines for movie and TV appearances, except for his time on "Wagon Train," when the producer insisted on labeling him as "Scott Miller," thinking it sounded more like the name of a cowboy actor. Apparently, the Nostalgia author failed to look at the use of Denny's name on the posters he must have seen for 1959's "Tarzan the Ape Man."
Much of the article was devoted to an interview with Danton Burroughs, ERB's grandson, who offered some good lines, such as:
—"Tarzan is constantly being seen somewhere, by somebody."
—"There are two things everybody, everywhere, knows. Tarzan and Coca-Cola."
Cohen mentions having visited a Dum Dum to meet fans, but he didn't bother to name any of those to whom he talked, writing,
"When I dropped Danton's name to assorted Tarzaniacs—a retired Louisville grandmother who makes miniature scale replicas of Edgar Rice Burroughs's ranch, a middle-aged couple who haunt European backways, thudding their chests to communicate with storekeepers who don't speak English, and a pair of California schoolteachers who lug around binoculars for after-hours bookshop-window sleuthing for rare editions—the response was confusing, at best. 'Danton is different,' somebody said. Different, pray, from what?"
The grandmother, fans know, must be Bobbie Rucker, great friend of George T. McWhorter, founder and curator of the ERB library at the University of Louisville. The man with the binoculars may have been Mike Shaw himself as his fellow fan Ralph Brown remembered that Mike did carry binoculars for that very purpose. The only ERB fan who actually got his name mentioned in the article was Bill Ross, who was credited with having 25,000 Tarzan doodads in his basement.
Mike Shaw waves to me as I took his photo at the 1993 ECOF in Willows, California. Also at restaurant breakfast table, from left, were Jerry Spannraft, Mike Conran and Laurence Dunn.
Mike and Ralph teamed up in 1989 to stage the marvelous ECOF '89, an ERB fan gathering, at the Holiday Inn in Tarzana. That ECOF included visits to the ERB Inc. office and Danton's home; a tour of the ERB ranchhouse and dinner at the Braemer Country Club on the ranch grounds; stars Gordon Scott, Eve Brent and Denny (not Dennis) Miller from the Tarzan movies; classic Sunday Tarzan comic illustrator Burne Hogarth; an official from Warner Bros. who promised another Tarzan movie; McWhorter, and a surprise visit by "Famous Monsters of Filmland" publisher Forrest J. Ackerman and an extracurricular tour of his treasure-laden Ackermansion. And who knew who would show up unheralded, such as Walter Koenig of "Star Trek," prowling the huckster room in search of comics for his personal collection.
In the photo in "Nostalgia," Mike is wearing the "7th annual ECOF" shirt that was included in the registration packets for the event.
Mike was a regular at other ERB conventions and—as a member of the L.A. SubERBs, helped organize many others. He stuck mostly to those on the West Coast although he did venture eastward at times.
A recent photo of Mike from his personal Michael Shaw facebook page
I had my own interactions with Mike, as we bought and traded with each other. One year the TJ Maxx stores were selling Tarzan teapots. Most fans didn't know about them until after they were no longer available. I wanted one. Mike wanted one. I had a friend who subscribed to the Antique Trader and he kept his eyes open and eventually found an ad by someone who had one for sale, so I ordered it. But, to my surprise, a few months later my sister found another one at a garage sale just about 20 miles from where I live, and she bought that one for me, too. It had a small chip on the removable head, which I took to a pottery shop and they painted over the chip so it looked like new.
When Mike found out I had an extra Tarzan teapot, he offered a Slesinger Tarzan dart board in trade, so we completed the deal at the 1995 ECOF near Portland, Oregon. I ended up keeping the one with the repaired head mainly because the overall color tones of that head were a better blend with the colors of Tarzan's body, which formed the pot. But Mike was happy with the one I traded to him, which did have a head with colors that weren't quite as bright as the body of that one.
At that same Portland ECOF, a bunch of us went into an antique district of the city itself to explore several stores. I don't think anyone found any good ERB stuff that day but Mike fell in love with an old, antique trunk and was negotiating with the antique mall owners over a purchase price. I can't remember if he was able to make the deal that day.
Mike had a vacation home in Idaho and one year he and his family's route was through Centralia, Washington, where I live, and he stopped to visit and look at my collection. I had a genuine Ford gumball machine I had picked up at a garage sale for $10. Mike was tickled to give me the ten bucks I told him I'd sell it for.
That's Mike Shaw in the left foreground holding the surfboard for a photo shoot for the poster of the popular documentary, "Endless Summer." Mike had the stylized poster on display in his classroom.
Mike eventually sold his Tarzan Groundnuts can to Ralph Brown, also an avid collector of ERB memorabilia. Ralph told me it was always easy to tell if Mike was at the same swap meet, because you could hear the sound of his voice asking dealers if they had any Tarzan. It wasn't that Mike was yelling, but he did have a distinctive voice that carried well.
Ralph pointed out that Mike got his picture on a movie poster for the classic surfing documentary, "Endless Summer." Mike had his back to the camera and he's holding a surf board, looking at the water. Ralph said Mike had one of the posters in his classroom at Alta Loma, California, where he taught history.
One can easily see why Mike would have been picked for such a poster. He was tall, well-built and had a good head of blond hair, and the balding spot on the front wouldn't have shown up with his back turned on the stylized poster.
When Mike was a teacher, there is no doubt that with his stature, and his voice, the students in his classes gave him their complete attention.
And it was the same at fan gatherings. When Mike showed up, there was no doubt that he was in the room.
- - - - -
Mike's last facebook post, Aug. 22:
This week I have received a number of inquiries from my past students if I am still in the Alta Loma area and what I have been up to; well lets see, I am now 75 and was diagnosed with Leukemia February the 12th. I'm getting stronger each day and am happy to stay in the house for the time-being. I'm able to get outside when it is not to hot...I am a member of the Ontario-Host lions club for the past 8 years and have been able to serve my community with several special projects. We run an Honor Student program so I am still involved with students. I'm blessed with good friends a wonderful family and a positive out look for my future... My Wife and daughter have done so much for me during the toughest times and I am unable to tell the just how much they mean to me...Thank you to all my friends and loved ones that have prayed for me over these pasted few months. I've been so blessed with so much...My best to all of you Michael Shaw
The "Hall of Memory" honors Mike Here.
To add your memories, email tangor at erblist.com
By the way, who is "Joe Franklin" of "Joe Franklin's Nostalgia"? I had never heard of him either but, when he passed away, Joshua Rothman wrote of him in "The New Yorker" of Jan. 27, 2015:
"...Franklin, the television host and talk-show pioneer, died this past weekend, at the age of eighty-eight. Franklin began hosting "The Joe Franklin Show" in 1951 and continued hosting it for more than forty years, until 1993. He estimated that, during that time, he interviewed more than three hundred thousand guests. (If you were born too late to watch Franklin's show, you may recognize him from the they-got-famous montage in "Ghostbusters": he's the talk-show host who asks Dan Akroyd's Ray Stantz, "How is Elvis, and have you seen him lately?")