Why was Mike Henry the iconic 1960s Tarzan?
2. He got out of Africa. Fighting the Waziri headhunters and elephant poachers was hackneyed. Mike Henry's Tarzan explored the jungles of Mexico, South America and Southeast Asia.
3. He was well-educated and sophisticated, more James Bond than Noble Savage. Edgar Rice Burroughs' literary Tarzan was fluent in English and French -- it was Johnny Weissmuller who invented the "Me Tarzan" lingo. Mike Henry returned to sophisticated Tarzan of the novels, taking his clothes off only when the plot required it (during 9/10ths of the movie).
4. He rescued and bonded with kid sidekicks: Ramel in Valley of Gold and Pepe in The Great River (both played by Manuel Padilla Jr.), and of course the Jungle Boy (played by Steve Bond). They were too young to be his romantic interests, but gay boys who were about that age themselves certainly fantasized about fading into the sunset with Mike Henry's muscular arm around their shoulders.
Incidentally, Steve Bond, who played the Jungle Boy in 1968, grew up to be a popular Playgirl centerfold: