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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Indy J. in the General forums; . The Adventures of the REAL Indiana Jones A tall man, handsome and weather-beaten, wipes the blood of a giant ...
  1. #1
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    Indy J.


    The Adventures of the REAL Indiana Jones

    A tall man, handsome and weather-beaten, wipes the blood of a giant scorpion from his hands and squints into the middle distance as he ponders his latest quest for sacred artefacts. He could be the ultimate Hollywood hero — living a life packed full of excitement and peril, usually with a beautiful young woman on his arm. He uncovers lost civilisations, is hailed as a god by grateful villagers, snatches priceless Christian treasures from under Nazi noses and begins revolutions.

    And his name will now be linked for ever with a mysterious crystal skull...

    A familiar figure for movie fans, you may think. It must be Indiana Jones, the whip-cracking, hat-snatching hero of the blockbuster films Raiders Of The Lost Ark, The Last Crusade, Temple Of Doom and next month's The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull — part-explorer, part-archaeologist and all man. But the man is not Indy, but a figure called Frederick Albert Mitchell-Hedges, a British adventurer whose life contains astonishing parallels with Indy's big-screen jaunts. So could Mitchell-Hedges be the real Indiana Jones? Could he have inspired the character who undertakes such jaw-dropping exploits as finding the Lost Ark Of The Covenant? Eccentric to say the least, Hedges was certainly a character. And in the new Indiana film, the links between the two explorers are uncanny — but while Indy's props were always his battered fedora and trusty whip, he was always smoking his huge pipe. While researching a novel, I stumbled across Hedges and became fascinated with this thoroughly British adventurer — whose rip-roaring autobiography Danger, My Ally describes a world leagues apart from today's politically correct, health and safety culture. Mitchell-Hedges's accounts of his adventures — published in the Daily Mail back then — presented such a daredevil, he almost makes Indy look like an accountant.

    But can his rip-roaring tales of heroism really be true?

    Born in 1882, Mitchell-Hedges endured the boredom of his schooldays by escaping into the derring-do fictions of H. Rider Haggard and Charles Kingsley. Inspired by the dark exoticism the novels described, the young Frederick resolved to become an explorer. His strait-laced father had other ideas however, and ordered him to take a job in the City. Utterly depressed, the 18-year-old Mitchell embarked on a night carousing in the West End. He tells how, during the course of the festivities, one unfortunate lady leaned over his table, 'giving us all a handsome and provocative view of her large breasts'. With a 'deft movement', one of Mitchell's party sent a jug of crushed ice 'gushing down the deep valley between those snowy mountains'. Cue a riot thanks to the outraged 'lady', a subsequent court appearance — and a father so embarrassed by the furore that he let his errant son go off to Canada. When he docked, Hedges crossed the border, and traversed the States, eventually ending up in Mexico, where he was captured by the legendary rebel leader Pancho Villa — who led forays against the U.S. from 1916.

    He escaped being shot as an American spy only by proving he was English, singing God Save The King. Villa liked the cut of his jib and forced him to join them on raids against the gringos. On a particularly disastrous foray, Mitchell was shot twice in the leg. Villa did eventually release Mitchell-Hedges, allowing him to travel back to Britain to volunteer for World War I — but his wounds meant he wasn't passed as fit for combat. Embarrassed to be seen as a relatively healthy-looking man in Britain during wartime, Mitchell-Hedges returned to New York to work for a diamond dealer. Around 1917, Hedges' boss persuaded him to put up a mysterious Russian exile, who called himself Bronstein. Hedges obliged, glad of the company. It was only after the war ended, that he discovered 'Bronstein' was actually the Russian revolutionary Trotsky. The British secret services, who were tracking the Russian, asked him to spy on Trotsky — but the explorer claimed he simply didn't have the stomach for such deceit. As if this wasn't enough excitement, around this time, Mitchell says he was 'given' a ten-year-old orphan girl called Anne-Marie le Guillon, by a group of Americans he met on a train.

    He took responsibility for this girl, who was known afterwards as his adopted daughter, Anna Mitchell-Hedges. The story appears to be highly implausible — but it is near-impossible to discover the truth, such is the web of yarns which he wove around the incident. It was an extraordinary turn of events — but more was to come. From New York, he went on a excursion to Central America and realised his childhood dream of exploration still burned strongly inside him. There was only one option for the now by Robert Hudson cash-strapped Mitchell-Hedges: a return to England to raise funds from well-connected family friends. And so, his Indiana-esque exploits truly began in 1921, when he fatefully met a gutsy old acquaintance, Lady Richmond Brown, on the platform at London's Waterloo station. She'd been told she was dying — erroneously as it turned out — and wanted to end her days in a blaze of glory. She told Hedges that if he took her exploring, she would pay for the trip. He instantly said yes. For six years, the pair journeyed to and from Central America, discovering unknown tribes and sending rare pots and carvings back to the British Museum.

    Wherever he travelled, he was hailed by primitive locals as a medicine man and left a trail of grateful natives in his wake. His reports to the Daily Mail, which part-sponsored these exploits, were full of lost cities, including Lubaantun in British Honduras, later Belize. They were rollicking reads — but, as Lynda, Mitchell-Hedges's granddaughter, told me, many of his claims have to be treated with caution. He was, after all, a highly skilled self-publicist. And those colourful dispatches kept coming. As well as lost civilisations, his reports also told of one man's battle against huge beasts — indeed, Hedges was as famous at the time for killing sea monsters as for finding lost tribes. His 1924 book, Battles With Giant Fish, is a fabulous account of titanic struggles with almost implausibly huge leviathans, many of which are pictured alongside a phlegmatic Mitchell-Hedges, pipe akimbo. While other fishermen of the period focused on the new and glamorous sport of big game fishing for tuna and marlin, Hedges was interested only in size and monstrosity. One 300st sawfish caught in the Bay of Panama is particularly extraordinary, but man-killing tiger sharks, vast devil rays and giant hammerheads were all grist to his mill. Photographs show the sheer size of the indomitable Mitchell-Hedges's catch. By the Thirties, the fiftysomething adventurer was being accompanied by a new companion, Jane Houlson Harvey, an attractive twentysomething who answered his advertisement for a secretary.

    She could have almost been the female lead in an Indiana flick — the naive British daughter of missionaries and teachers, she joined her lanternjawed hero, Mitchell-Hedges, and learned to love the wildest of places. But was Jane his lover? It's impossible to know. Mitchell-Hedges's autobiography is very coy about his love life, saying merely that Hedges was married in 1906 to Dolly, whom he had met at a thoroughly proper country house party — and that 'greatly to my surprise, we are married still'. But my research has shown that this obscures as much as it reveals. In 1930, Hedges was cited as the longterm lover in Lady Richmond Brown's divorce. It seems his sex life was just as active as his adventuring. Even stranger, there are newspaper reports from 1938 that he was sued for divorce by an American woman called Dorothy Copp, to whom he'd been 'married' for three years, which had been spent on a tropical jungle honeymoon she described as a 'nightmare' and 'no place for a white woman'. It has proved impossible to learn more about Dorothy Copp and this marriage, which would have made Mitchell a bigamist. It's little wonder that he once described himself as 'one of the leading contenders for the title of Worst Husband In The World'.

    Whatever the truth about their relationship, Jane was constantly imperilled by their adventures — but he dealt with this in the manliest possible fashion. If a shark approached her, he killed it. If a scorpion stung her finger, he sucked out the poison. They were accompanied everywhere by colourful desperadoes. One of their comrades, named Mongoose, met a very sticky end on the Patuca River in Honduras. He was attacked by a crocodile and seeing that his injuries would prove fatal, shot Mongoose in the head. It was, Mitchell wrote, 'more merciful that way'. And, somewhat like the eternal movie superhero Harrison Ford, now aged 65, Mitchell-Hedges stubbornly refused to fade away. In 1951, one newspaper reported that the old explorer, by now 68, was on the east coast of Africa, hunting for treasures by digging up most of Dar-Es-Salaam. It was around this time, Hedges claimed to have recovered the miraculous Virgin of Kazan, a bejewelled 16th-century icon which the Russians credited with helping to defeat Napoleon in 1812. The icon was stolen in 1904, but 50 years later, Hedges said he had recovered it — though not before it had passed through the hands of leading Nazi, Hermann Goering. But the current excitement surrounding his links to Indiana Jones rests on the extraordinary Crystal Skull of Doom — and the controversial story of its discovery in Belize, which Mitchell became convinced was the ancient city of Atlantis, re-risen from the sea. The explorer was convinced that the skull and other artefacts betokened a civilisation that was too old to fit in with traditional archaeologists' readings of history. How could articles so ancient be found deep in the earth's layers alongside ones far more modern?

    There was only one explanation. Belize was Atlantis — it had sunk taking its antiquities with it, and mysteriously re-appeared centuries later in the modern historical age. The new Indiana Jones film shows Indy desperately hunting for a mysterious crystal skull of doom — and Mitchell-Hedges's Skull of Doom is unquestionably the finest of the world's crystal skulls, others of which are housed in major collections such as the British Museum and Smithsonian. They are believed by many to be the keys to ancient prophecies. Some even claim they have extraterrestrial origins. Indeed, Hedges claimed the skull was 'the embodiment of all evil'. According to articles written by Mitchell-Hedges in the Fifties, the skull was discovered in Belize by his adopted daughter, Anna, on one of their jaunts during the Roaring Twenties. But why on earth would the publicity-seeking Hedges delay revealing such a find for nearly three decades? Perhaps the answer can be found in British Museum records — which clearly state that he bought the skull from a man called Sydney Burney in 1944. But Anna Mitchell-Hedges, who died last year aged 100, had an explanation for this: she claimed that her father lent the skull to Burney, who promptly put the skull up for sale. Mitchell-Hedges had no option but to buy the skull back from Burney. Any documentary evidence of all these transactions was unfortunately lost during a cyclone, says Anna. This is a pity, since there are further papers which appear to show Burney buying the skull in 1933.

    Historians have come up with other explanations for the skull's complicated journey. Sibley S. Morrill, an American historian, speculated in 1972 that Hedges had to be furtive because he was, despite his protestations to the contrary, working for the British secret service. Others — including Bill Homann, a friend of Anna's, who has styled himself as 'the guardian of the skull' — agree this explains Mitchell's many inconsistencies.

    Joe Nickell — an author who specialises in debunking ancient 'mysteries' — explores the possibility that various crystal skulls were actually manufactured in Germany in the late 19th century and lucratively sold on. People get so worked up about this because, in true Indiana Jones fashion, some regard the Mitchell-Hedges skull as an object of worldchanging importance. Joshua Shapiro, an American, who is completing a book called Journeys Of The Crystal Skull Explorers, explains: 'People worry about the origins of the skull, but what matters is that this skull made the public aware of the existence of these artefacts. What we don't yet understand is how the skulls' power and energy works, nor what role they will play in helping humanity creating a peaceful future.' Shapiro is investigating these matters with his colleagues at the World Mystery Research Centre in Illinois, and has spoken of his belief that the skull will help usher in a global age of peace by 2012 — the year the ancient Mayan calendar ends, supposedly signifying the end of the world as we know it. Shapiro believes the fact the skulls were found on Mayan ground shows their enormous — and mysterious — global importance. Mitchell-Hedges died in June 1959, mysterious and controversial to the last. The secrets of the crystal skull, and its owner, will perhaps never be revealed. But it is tantalising to imagine that this real-life Indiana Jones could have had a top-secret alter-ego. Could the real-life Indiana have been a secret James Bond after all?

    Source: The Daily Mail
    | the Daily Mail
    Last edited by godchaser; 05-09-2008 at 02:26 PM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Indy J.


    -apologies admin- TM. Meant to post in the Lounge.

    YouTube - Korean 747 Extreme Landing
    Last edited by godchaser; 07-10-2008 at 01:20 PM.

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