His name is Henry Walton Jones Jr. But everyone knows him as Indiana. He’s the protagonist of four films, all directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by George Lucas, based on Lucas’ original idea and on scripts co-written by Lucas and writers that include Philip Kaufman, Lawrence Kasdan and – with the most recent film, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” which opened Thursday – David Koepp. He’s also been the subject of a television series, a book series, a Disney theme-park ride and has even appeared in a number of video games. Those of us who have seen the films all know the character. Or at least we think we do. But who is Indiana Jones, really? A trek through Web sites such as www.theindyexperience.com can elicit lots of information, most of it compiled from the sources listed above balanced with the odd interview from the Lucas-Spielberg crowd. The rewards of such a search can result in a fascinating look at a fictional life.
(Warning: There may be a spoiler or two for those who haven’t yet seen “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”)
His birth: Henry “Indiana” Walton Jones Jr. was born on July 1, 1899, in Princeton, N.J.
His parents: His father is Henry Walton Jones Sr., a native of Scotland, graduate of Oxford University and a professor of medieval studies at Princeton University. His mother, Anna Jones, is an American from a wealthy Virginia family.
His vital statistics: Let’s judge this by the actor, Harrison Ford, who plays him. Accounts vary, but at his tallest Ford was arguably over 6 feet tall and in 2003 was said to have weighed 218 pounds (though when younger – say in 1979 when he had a small role in “Apocalypse Now” – he was a lot skinnier).
His nickname: His father calls him Junior, a name he hates. So he decided to adopt the name of his dog, a Malamute called Indiana.
His education: The simple answer is that, after a childhood enhanced by worldly travel, the lessons of a knowledgeable tutor and the not-always-smoothly-applied life tips handed out by his father, Indy ended up at the University of Chicago. It was there that he studied archaeology under the renowned Abner Ravenwood, father of Marion (played by Karen Allen). He later studied linguistics at the Sorbonne.
But the more complex question is what prepared Indy for his dual careers?
One answer is supplied by the Web site www.classesandcareers.com, which poses the question, “If some college were to create an Indiana Jones major, what would it look like?” Required courses would, the site claims, include “Intro to Archaeology (naturally), Nazi Germany, Introduction to Hittite, Self-Defense: Boxing, Old Egyptian Texts, Horse Management, Firearms Safety, Christianity and the Roman Empire, Leadership and Military Science.”
To which you might include serpentology. And flight lessons.
Oh, and ethics might be another worthy addition.
His marital status: Widower. Indy married Deirdre Campbell, the daughter of his colleague Joanna Campbell, in 1926. Deirdre was killed in a plane crash later that year in a South American jungle. He later married his former lover Marion, with whom he had a son, Mutt Williams (Shia LeBeouf in “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”), a daughter, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
His military service: In 1916, he and a friend enlisted in the Belgian army. They later connived to get a transfer to the French intelligence services, which led to a number of adventures in places as diverse as Africa and Romania, Russia and the Middle East. He ended up working as a translator at the treaty talks at Versailles, watching the world leaders set the stage for World War II.
His job: Adventurer archaeologist, of course. In “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” Indy answers the question put to him by Mutt Williams, “You’re … a teacher?” by answering, “Part-time.”
Question is, where does he teach? Various places. His first job was a summer-teaching position at London University. He also had a connection with Marshall College, where his friend Marcus Brody was dean of students, and later taught at Barnett College in New York City before moving back to Marshall.
Sidenote: A prop I.D. card for sale on eBay indicates that, for a time in 1936, Indy may have taught archaeology at something called Hamilton University. Or not.
His hat: Indy wears a tall-crowned, wide-brimmed fedora, which is a slightly modified style of a model made by the British hat company Herbert Johnson. According to Deborah Nadoolman-Landis, costumer on “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “(W)ith a couple of fittings, we got the hat right for Harrison. Got it really dirty. I took the hat and I rolled it up in my hands, sat on it … had Harrison sit on it, and when we got through with it, it looked like a nice, old, very well loved hat.”
His whip: Indy’s main whip is a 10-feet-long bullwhip made by David Morgan, a company located in Bothell, Wash. The company Web site ( www.davidmorgan.com) says, “We supplied over 30 bull whips of the 450 series for the first three Indiana Jones movies. These ranged in length from six feet to 16 feet. The standard length carried in the movies was the No. 455 10-foot Bull Whip.”
His pistol: Indy has wielded a number of firearms. In “Raiders,” though, he carries a .45 ACP Smith & Wesson Hand Ejector 2nd model revolver. This is the pistol he uses to shoot the sword-wielding giant.
His famous friends: By following his parents (mom died in 1912 of scarlet fever, dad died in 1951) around the world, and then continuing on his own, Indy met a number of people who were either famous or one day would become so.
A short list would include T.E. Lawrence (of “Lawrence of Arabia” fame), Pablo Picasso, Italian opera master Giacomo Puccini, Theodore Roosevelt, Austria’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand (the man whose assassination sparked World War I), Dr. Albert Schweitzer, writers Nikos Kazantzakis (“The Last Temptation of Christ”) and Arthur Conan Doyle (creator of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries), Germany’s Red Baron (Manfred von Richthofen), Winston Churchill and Mexican Revolutionary Pancho Villa.
Then there was that time he met Adolph Hitler at a book signing…
His exploits: In the four movies, Indy has accomplished the following:
“”Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) – It”s 1936, and Indy prevents the Nazis from getting their hands on the Lost Ark of the Covenant.
“”Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984) – Set the year before “Raiders,” this prequel finds Indy in India where, by chance, he ends up rescuing a battalion of children from a murderous cult.
“”Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989) – It’s now 1938, and Indy finds his missing father and, in the process, prevents the Nazis from using the Holy Grail to achieve their plans of world domination.
“”Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (2008) – Moving ahead, Indy now is caught up in the Cold War of the 1950s, trying to prevent the “new” villains, the Soviets, from snaring the Crystal Skull, possession of which gives the owner the power to – you guessed it – dominate the world.
Yet Indy has done so much more. For example:
Indy debated the merits of modern art with the likes of Picasso, jammed on the sax with George Gershwin and helped director Eric von Stroheim finish a movie. He taught Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy the finer points of baseball, and he hunted in Africa with Teddy Roosevelt (and, in the process, managed to teach the man a lesson in wildlife conservation).
As a soldier during WWI, Indy was nursed to health by Dr. Schweitzer, was shot down by von Richthofen (and afterward gave the German ace the idea of painting his plane red). He escaped from a prisoner-of-war camp with a French officer named Charles de Gaulle and helped a Vietnamese waiter named Nguyen (called Ho Chi Minh by his friends) present his case for a free Vietnam before the post-WWI world powers.
Oh, and he roomed at college with Eliot Ness, fought alongside Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolution, got drunk in Italy with an American Red Cross driver named Ernest Hemingway, survived a bureaucratic nightmare in Prague courtesy of a Czech government worker named Franz Kafka and even spent, uh, time with an exotic dancer named Mata Hari.
His sayings: Indy isn’t afraid of saying what’s on his mind. He’s also a master of understatement.
When a government representative describes our hero as a “Professor of Archeology, expert on the occult and – how does one say it? – obtainer of rare antiquities,” Indy replies, “That’s one way of putting it.” (“Raiders”)
Seeing a pet snake in his friend Jock’s plane, Indy says, not for the last time, “I hate snakes.” (“Raiders”)
“Take this,” Indy says to Marion Ravenwood, handing her a torch. “Wave it at anything that slithers.” (“Raiders”)
When Marion tells him, “You’re not the man I knew 10 years ago,” Indy replies, “It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.” (“Raiders”)
Short Round asks Indy about the priceless stone of Sankara. “What is it?” he asks. “Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory.” (“Temple of Doom”)
When Willie Scott tells Indy that she wears her jewels “and nothing else” to bed, she asks him, “Shock you?” “Nothing shocks me,” Indy replies. “I’m a scientist.” (“Temple of Doom”)
“Ooh, what big birds,” Willie Scott says. “Those aren’t big birds, sweetheart!” Indy replies. “They’re giant vampire bats!” (“Temple of Doom”)
After commandeering a plane, Indy takes the wheel. His father, Henry Sr., observes, “I didn’t know you could fly a plane.” To which Indy replies, “Fly, yes. Land, no.” (“Last Crusade”)
When Sallah discovers how Indy got his nickname, he laughs. “You are named after the dog?” he says. “I’ve got a lot of fond memories of that dog,” Indy replies. (“Last Crusade”)
“Nazis,” Indy says. “I hate those guys.” (“Last Crusade”)
His legacy: A mix of James Bond and Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart’s character from John Huston’s “Treasure of the Sierra Madre”), Indy has influenced a whole school of similar heroes, from Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser in “The Mummy” series) to Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) to Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage in the “National Treasure” series).
But Indy’s greatest legacy comes in the form of the four big-screen adventures that, for the past 27 years, have entertained a generation of filmgoers through repeated retellings of his legendary exploits.
Indy, our fedora’s off to you.
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