Posts Tagged ‘Burt Lancaster’

New Jim Thorpe Biography

July 10, 2010

Yet another biography of Jim Thorpe is to be released soon. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. has announced that Native American Son: The Life and Sporting Legend of Jim Thorpe by Kate Buford will be released in October. Ms. Buford is the author of Burt Lancaster: An American Life. Buford’s reputation and history suggest that her book will be better than the other recent attempts at chronicling the great athlete’s life. Was she able to gain access to Jim Thorpe’s scrapbooks? It is believed that Robert W. Wheeler was the last Thorpe biographer to have them available for his research. They are now in the hands of a well-known collector of sports artifacts who doesn’t generally allow researchers to see them.

One thing that is sure is that the Kate Buford didn’t have access to the vast majority of the people Wheeler interviewed due to their demise during the intervening years. However, Wheeler taped his interviews on a bulky tape recorder that he lugged as he hitchhiked across the country to interview anyone he could find who had a relationship with Thorpe. He has made the recording of his interview with former West Point cadet Dwight David Eisenhower available to others, but even that hasn’t stopped other authors from writing inaccuracies about the 1912 Carlisle-Army game.

I am curious to learn more about Big Jim’s eye disease. Recently, I learned that he had eye surgery while at Carlisle. About all I have uncovered so far is that he was hospitalized for three days. Nothing was stated about the reason for the surgery. The medical records from his student file are long gone. Perhaps the person who took them or his descendants will return them or at least make their contents public. There are still things to learn about Jim Thorpe. This fall, we will see if this new biography shares any of them.

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Premier at Carlisle Theatre

December 8, 2008

On Friday Antonio Banderas conducted the U.S. premier of his film, El Camino de los Ingleses (The English Road), titled Summer Rain in the U.S., at Carlisle Theatre. This was not the first movie to be premiered at this 1939 Art Deco picture palace. In August of 1951, Jim Thorpe returned to Carlisle to premier his film biography, Jim Thorpe: All American, in which he was portrayed by a young actor by the name of Burt Lancaster. Unfortunately, that film is now dated and needs to be remade, or better yet, an entirely new film needs to be made. Perhaps that will happen.

It seems that a filmmaker interested in shooting a film about Jim Thorpe, Pop Warner or the Carlisle Indian School breezes through town every couple of months gathering information for his or her next production. The most notable, perhaps, of those in recent years was announced in 2004 John Sayles was writing the script for Carlisle School for Walden Media. Nothing further has been seen about that film and that may be for the better. The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Carlisle School, “follows a ragtag group of young Native Americans who achieve prolific victories on the football field that lead them to national prominence. The players, among them future sports legend Thorpe, attended the boarding school in Pennsylvania that, from 1879-1918, housed Native Americans from childhood through college.”

Anyone who knows anything at all about Carlisle Indian School is well aware that its teams were anything but ragtag. To the contrary, Carlisle was frequently criticized for being just the opposite. The recent books about Thorpe and Carlisle have not been the most accurate either. But better things may be in the offing. Kate Buford’s biography of Jim Thorpe is to be released in 2008 and there aren’t many days left in the year. Bob Wheeler is finishing up his audiobook on Jim Thorpe. This is something to look forward to. Thorpe’s Boswell is not just reading his landmark book on Thorpe, he is also including clips from the interviews he made decades ago of people, many of whom are now long dead. It will be great to hear Ike talk about playing against Thorpe in his own voice. I can’t wait.