March 04, 2023



(NBC, September 9-December 2, 1978)
Hanna-Barbera Productions



B.J. Ward – Jana
Ted Cassidy – Montaro
Michael Bell – Dr. Ben Cooper


Created by Doug Wildey, Jana of the Jungle was a pastiche of Tarzan with a healthy dose of Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. In fact, it began life as a Sheena show with the assumption that the character was in the public domain. However, shortly after Hanna-Barbera Productions had sold the concept to NBC, Sheena’s rights holders came forward with a hefty price tag. Wildey quicky reworked his concept into the series that would make it to air.

Model sheet of Jana in action.

Jana (B.J. Ward) was shipwrecked in South America while out boating with her father. He was lost, but she was found and raised by the descendant of a lost warrior tribe named Montaro (Ted Cassidy). Montaro possessed the magical Staff of Power that could cause localized earthquakes, among other things. Her other human friend was a wildlife biologist named Dr. Ben Cooper (Michael Bell), who took charge of the wildlife preserve started by her father.

Promotional material featuring Jana, Tico, Ben Cooper, Montaro and Ghost.

Growing up in the jungle, Jana learned how to maneuver them well by traveling along on swinging vines and befriended the native animals, learning their various calls to summon their aid. In particular, she was often accompanied by a skeel white jaguar named Ghost and a pesky coatimundi named Tico. Additionally, the necklace she wore, given to her by her father, doubled as a throwing weapon that could bore through stone as easily as it cut through rope. Jana was constantly searching for her father while protecting her adoptive home from poachers, thieves and disasters of both the natural and man-made variety.

Montaro model sheet with his Staff of Power.

Jana of the Jungle debuted on NBC on September 9, 1978. However, it didn’t do so as its own show. It was instead paired with Hanna-Barbera’s Godzilla as part of The Godzilla Power Hour programming block. Starting in November and continuing on in reruns through September of 1979, the block was expanded an additional half-hour with the inclusion of Wildey’s other Hanna-Barbera program, Jonny Quest, and was renamed The Godzilla Super 90. The series was written by Herb Armstrong, Bob Johnson, Duane Poole, Sam Roeca, Dick Robbins, George Shea, Bob Stitzel, Tom Swale and Bill Wray, with music by Hoyt Curtin and Dennis Dreith. Wildey handled the initial character designs, with additional ones done by Fred Irvin and George Wheeler. The most notable aspect of the show was the use of rotoscoping for several of Jana’s movements. Dancer and actress Michele Hart served as the model for Jana. Interestingly enough, her husband at the time was writer and artist Don Rico who had worked on several jungle-themed comics and heroines during his career.

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Jana was one of the few Hanna-Barbera programs not to get a second life in reruns, airing for the final time in its entirety in 1985 as part of USA’s Cartoon Express programming block. It has also never seen an official home video or streaming release; however, “The Cordillera Volcano” was briefly available on Warner Bros.’ Hanna-Barbera online stream. Jana would make an appearance in “The Pongo Tongo Classic” episode of Yogi’s Space Race, and would often get confused with Rima the Jungle Girl who was appearing at the same time in Hanna-Barbera’s Super Friends. A completely unrelated and more scantily-clad Jana would appear in 2007 as part of Dynamite Entertainment’s Jungle Girl trilogy of comics spearheaded by Frank Cho. 


“The Golden Idol of the Gorgas” (9/9/78) – A couple comes to Jana for help to find their missing son, but they have other plans.
“Katuchi Danger” (9/16/78) – A plane full of medical supplies crashes in a valley said to be inhabited by a dangerous tribe of ape-men.
“The Cordillera Volcano” (9/23/78) – Jana must rescue a group of miners from a volcano’s eruption.
“The Animal Snatchers” (9/30/78) – A group of poachers pose as filmmakers wanting to do a story about Jana and her friends so that they can capture Ghost.
“The Renegade” (10/7/78) – Jana must prove Ghost isn’t behind a rash of white jaguar attacks around the jungle.
“Rogue Elephant” (10/14/78) – When an elephant escapes a zoo train wreck Jana must stop it before it destroys a local village or gets hurt.
“The Prisoner” (10/21/78) – Jana may have discovered her missing father held captive in a village.
“The Invaders” (10/28/78) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILBLE.
“Dangerous Cargo” (11/4/78) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILBLE.
“The Sting of the Tarantula” (11/11/78) – A tarantula sting makes Montaro delirious enough to believe Jana and Ben are his enemies.
“Countdown” (11/18/78) – Jana must retrieve an active bomb found by an isolated tribe in a military plane crash.
“Suspicion” (11/25/78) – Jana must clear Ben’s name when he’s accused of stealing a black pearl from a tribe.
“Race for Life” (12/2/78) – A tribe of giant female warriors takes Ben captive after he helps the medicine man that failed to cure their queen’s daughter.

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