Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Jim Thompson.
Now that I’ve visited his museum in Bangkok, I’m wondering why Tom Hanks hasn’t played him. The mystery surrounding his life and death is that good.
Thompson was a World War II veteran and intelligence officer who was highly trained in jungle survival. He left the United States after the war in 1947 to seek his fortune in Thailand and built a successful company as an international trader of Thai silk. He is credited today with bringing its quality to the attention of the world at large.
An architect by trade, Thompson fashioned an authentic Thai home in the center of Bangkok by gathering several structures over the years and moving them to his compound. He became quite the social figure as his silk company grew throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1967, Thompson traveled with friends to the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. On Easter Sunday, he walked into the jungle and was never seen again. Numerous conspiracy stories have existed ever since: He was an intelligence operative who was assassinated; he walked away from his business and started a new life; he was killed and eaten by wild tigers. Nothing in the 50 years since his disappearance has ever been proved or disproved.
His home, museum and clothing store are worth a visit if you are in Bangkok. The 50th anniversary of his disappearance is coming up in March. Maybe someone will send Hanks a script.
Email me anytime with your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.