Monday, 16 May 2011

a little about Jim Thompson

James (Jim) Harrison Wilson Thompson (born March 21, 1906) was an American businessman who helped revitalize the Thai silk industry in the 1950s and 1960s. A former U.S. military intelligence officer, Thompson mysteriously disappeared from Malaysia's Cameron Highlands while going for a walk on Easter Sunday, March 26, 1967. Many hypotheses have been advanced to explain his disappearance. Theories range from his committing suicide to his being carried away by aborigines.

Whatever it is, his vanishing has not only generated a degree of curiosity; equally interesting, it has also become a subject which many a theorist have found hard to put aside.
Jim Thompson was the youngest of five children of Henry and Mary Thompson. His father was a textile manufacturer; his mother was a daughter of James Harrison Wilson, a noted Union general in the American Civil War.

Thompson spent his early years of education at St. Paul's boarding school. From 1931 to 1940, he practiced in New York City with Holden, McLaughlin & Associates, designing homes for the East Coast rich and a band shell in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

During the 1930s, he led an active social life and sat on the board of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Before the decade came to a close, he not only became politically active; his liberal politics also alienated him from his family.

In 1941, he left his job and enlisted with the Delaware National Guard regiment. He did well in training and became a commissioned officer after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Thompson left the army in 1946. After his divorce, he devoted himself to revitalizing a cottage industry of hand-woven silk. In 1948, he partnered George Barrie to found the Thai Silk Company. The establishment achieved a coup in 1951 when designer Irene Sharaff made use of Thai silk fabrics for the Rogers and Hammerstein musical, The King and I. From then on, the company prospered.
... and then, his disappearance:

Thompson came to the Cameron Highlands with Mrs. Constance (Connie) Mangskau on Friday, March 24, 1967. They stayed at "Moonlight" bungalow with Dr. Ling Tien Gi, a Singaporean-Chinese chemist and Mrs. Helen Ling, his white American-born wife. On Easter Sunday, March 26, they attended the morning services at All Souls' Church. Later that day, he went for a walk but failed to return.

There is much written about his disappearance and probably most of it can be found HERE on Wikipedia.

For anyone visiting Bangkok, a visit to The Jim Thompson Home Museum is certainly a must on the itinerary.

Last week when in Bangkok we visited the Jim Thompson Home Museum, the Factory Outlet and the Jim Thompson Stores. The fabrics and other items for sale are exquisite, it would be difficult to walk out of any of the stores without purchasing 'something'!

Not a single clue has turned up in the ensuing years as to what might have happened to him. His famous Thai house, however, remains as a lasting reminder of his creative ability and his deep love of Thailand. In 1976, the Thai Court appointed administrator for the property of Jim Thompson received permission from government ministries of the Kingdom of Thailand to legally establish the James H W Thompson Foundation. 

By virtue of its presence and the dictates of its charter the Foundation is committed to the preservation of Thailand's rich artistic and cultural heritage. The foundation supports a wide variety of research, publication and seminar projects in furtherance of this aim. All these activities require funds, and the James H W Thompson Foundation welcomes any contributions. 

Open everyday from 9 AM
Last tour begins at 4:30 PM
Jim Thompson
Thai House Museum
opposite The National Stadium
6 Soi Kaseman 2
Rama I Road, Bangkok
Tel: 216-7368

various website links 
can be found in the above 
blog post where the words are underlined.

next blog post will be of our visit to 
the Jim Thompson Home Museum



Sun Sea & Vista's said...

Hm, quite the fascinating mystery!
Never heard of this Museum or of Jim Thompson. Most interesting...

Leone Fabre said...


if ever you are over this way you must visit Bangkok AND the museum.... not to mention the shops that sells all the beautiful Thai Silk.

It is quite a story though isn't it?

Sun Sea & Vista's said...

Yes! Bangkok sounds a place I'd luv to explore...

The story of Jim Thompson I'm wondering.. if any movie was made = based on this mans life...

Sun Sea & Vista's said...

Sure is! I wonder... was a movie ever ~ made based on this mans life?