Author Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of iconic fantasy heroes Tarzan and John Carter (namesake of the mega-budget flick that opens today), almost took a different career path.
Until, that is, he got a rejection letter postmarked from San Antonio.
In 1898, Burroughs —— recently discharged from the U.S. Cavalry and living in Idaho —— heard that Theodore Roosevelt was assembling his famed Rough Riders in the Alamo City to fight in the newly declared war between Spain and the United States.
Burroughs sent a letter asking to join up, but Roosevelt turned down the request. In a terse, one-sentence reply, the future president wrote that the “chances of our being over-enlisted forbid my bringing a man from such a distance.”
Military career over, Burroughs wandered for more than a dozen years, working a variety of jobs. In 1912, he wrote his first successful story, “Tarzan of the Apes,” and many more followed —— including “John Carter and a Princess of Mars.”