Our Favorite Extraterrestrial Turns 30

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, one of the most beloved films of all time, turns 30 today. This warm tale of friendship between a lonely boy and a lost extraterrestrial instantly became a universally appealing story line after its release on June 11, 1982, grossing $200 million during its first 66 days alone.

With his four famous syllables—”E.T. phone home”—the wrinkly, Reese’s Piece-loving alien captured our hearts. His wide-eyed innocence and quest to return home made E.T. the perfect hero. The shenanigans that ensue as he and Elliot outrun the authorities to safely return E.T. to his mother ship have made this movie an American classic.

Directed by Steven Spielberg, E.T. won four Academy Awards and held the record as the top-grossing film for 15 years. We can certainly understand why. Just look at that face!

When was the last time you saw “E.T. phone home”?

“E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” is a trademark and copyright of Universal City Studios, Inc. Licensed by Universal Studios Licensing, Inc. All rights reserved.

Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Sci-Fi Adventures Jump from the Page

[From guest contributor Jeff]

A century ago, Tarzan—the most famous creation of Edgar Rice Burroughs—leaped from the pages of magazines and books and into movies, the funny pages, and radio shows. Rediscovered and reinvented by later generations, Burroughs’ famous hero has since appeared in television series and video games, and the original Tarzan tales fill more than two dozen books. We can’t be blamed, then, if we sometimes forget that Burroughs’ mind often wasn’t on the jungle, but out among the stars.

Today, Hollywood reminds us that Burroughs was, at heart, a science fiction writer—a prolific and influential one, too, credited with popularizing what scholars now dub “planetary romance.” A mash-up of futuristic technology with anachronisms like sword-fighting and feudal pageantry, these swashbuckling tales flourished in pulp magazines from the 1920s until World War II, giving adventure-hungry readers their ultimate hero:

Burroughs’ first published story was, in fact, his first John Carter story. “Under the Moons of Mars” which graced the pages of All-Story magazine in 1912, introduced a Confederate Civil War vet mysteriously transported to Mars. In all, Burroughs wrote eleven John Carter books, thrilling the next generation of young science fiction writers and setting the interplanetary stage for the phenomenon that would be Star Wars.

With more than a century of science fiction to explore, why do readers return to Burroughs for high adventure? Maybe because he knew how to “call out to the human psyche at a largely unconscious level,” writes science fiction and mystery writer Richard A. Lupoff, who argues that the Mars books “call up the suppressed urges of the primitive man to take sword in hand and confront once and for all the vexatious world around him.”

Burroughs himself was famously restless, serving with the U.S. Cavalry and holding a dizzying array of unsatisfying jobs until he found a route to greatness through his own imagination. He never stopped thinking big: “If there is a hereafter,” he said shortly before he died in 1950, “I want to travel through space to visit other planets.”

Did Burroughs get his wish or not? We can’t say—but few writers can boast a feature film and a stamp celebrating the staying power of a century, as fine a claim to literary immortality as any. John Carter may yet outlive us all; check back in 2112.

Tarzan™ Owned by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. and Used by Permission.