10 Real-Life Inspirations For Indiana Jones

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9. F.A. Mitchell-Hedges


Most Indiana Jones fans will agree that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was disappointing. However, the story of the Mayan crystal skulls, which conspiracy theorists and dime-store Forteans believe supposedly foretell the end of the world, starts with a man worthy of Indiana Jones.

Frederick Albert Mitchell-Hedges was an English traveler and writer who decided to seek a life of adventure instead of attending university or any other institution that would give him a reputable name. Beginning at a very early age, Mitchell-Hedges began exploring the Canadian wilderness, war-torn Mexico, and Central American coast in search of the lost city of Atlantis. Mitchell-Hedges wrote about his travels, and along with his wife Lilian-Dolly and his adopted daughter Anne Marie Le Guillon, Mitchell-Hedges became a celebrity during the height of adventure journalism.

Mitchell-Hedges’s greatest find, the crystal “Skull of Doom,” is a point of controversy. For his part, Mitchell-Hedges claimed that he found the eerie skull in the 1930s. Anna refuted this and claimed that she was the one who had found the skull underneath a Mayan temple in British Honduras (modern-day Belize). Going even further, Anna claimed that a Mayan priest had previously used the skull to kill his enemies, while in the hands of nonbelievers, it brought bad luck. Whatever the true story, Mitchell-Hedges believed that the skull was evil, and its finding has become the source of many legends and silly predictions.

8. E. Hoffmann Price

E. Hofmann Price

Photo credit: Will Hart

Whereas Andrews has been mentioned as a real-life inspiration behind the creation of Indiana Jones on numerous occasions, E. Hoffmann Price has not. Oddly enough, Price not only lived a life worthy of Indiana Jones, but he also wrote the type of stories that inspired George Lucas and Steven Spielberg to create the character in the first place. Described by science fiction writer Jack Williamson as a “genuine solider of fortune,” Price was a California-born graduate of West Point, a veteran of three combat tours (the Pancho Villa Expedition, the Philippines, and World War I), and a well-traveled fencer and boxer who happened to be interested in archaeology, Arabic, and what was then called “Oriental studies.”

At some point, Price settled down into a steady job in New Orleans, but he maintained his adventuresome spirit through his fiction. From the 1920s until his death in 1988, Price composed thousands of short stories that spanned several genres, from action-adventure to strange horror stories that were frequently printed by the seminal pulp magazine Weird Tales. Price also has the distinction of being the only person to ever meet writers Robert E. Howard (the creator of Conan the Barbarian), Clark Ashton Smith, and H.P. Lovecraft face-to-face. In particular, Lovecraft and Price maintained a close friendship until Lovecraft’s untimely death in 1937. The pair even collaborated on a short story called “Through the Gates of the Silver Key.”

Some of the characters that Price created which may have influenced the creation of Indiana Jones include the Singaporean detective Pawang Ali, Jim Kane (an American guerrilla fighter in the Philippines), and the French swordsman Pierre D’Artois, who often fought evil cult groups like the one Indy faces in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

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