Above, left - T. E. Lawrence and Lowell Thomas in the Arabian desert in 1917. The young British officer gained international fame as a result of Thomas' reports on the war in the Middle East. Above, right - poster for one of Thomas' live, slide, and motion picture presentations (Hey! We're talking multi-media here.) about the Middle Eastern campaign which were played around Britain and the United States in the early to mid-1920's.
Poster courtesy of Marist College - The Lowell Thomas Archives
Indiana Jones film fans may recognize the structure pictured above, left, from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In 1917 it was not quite as recognizable. It is, in fact, the Temple of Isis, also known as the King's Treasury, in the ancient city of Petra, lost for centuries. The photos above were taken when Lawrence took Thomas on a four day jaunt to visit the recently rediscovered city. Lawrence had been an archaeologist in Arabia for a number of years before the start of the first World War. Petra provided the stage for a four day battle between Lawrence's Arab troops and the Turkish army. Above, right, the remarkable world traveler, adventurer, journalist and statesman on the only totally reliable mode of transportation in those parts. Thomas would revisit the site while honeymooning with his second wife, Marianna. In a later part of the honeymoon, Thomas broke a leg while skiing. He was 85 years old at the time.
Above, left: Illustration from Lowell Thomas' book So Long Until Tomorrow. The caption reads "T.E. Lawrence on the racing camel he accidentally shot in the head in the battle at the Wells of Abu el Lissal."
The incident mentioned is not in the famous David Lean film purportedly about Lawrence of Arabia, but there were few events depicted in the film that relate to facts. Great film making, a poor history lesson. Thomas provided large quantities of Lawrence related material to the film makers but they chose to ignore it and make their own story.
Above, right: Illustration from Thomas' book With Lawrence in Arabia. The caption reads "Mr. Chase opens fire with his cinema camera from the turret of an armored car." The motion pictures and hundreds of photos shot by Thomas and his cameraman during the war to remove the Turks from Palestine would make General Allenby and T.E. Lawrence household names around the world.
Lowell Thomas always felt that Cinerama would be an ideal medium to tell the story of Lawrence of Arabia.
Thomas made many films during the twenties and thirties, all of them exotic. The poster at left must surely be from one of the very most exotic. It's date of release is unknown but it would have to be between 1930 and 1933, since it was a sound picture and poster art became much more subdued as a result of pressure from the Hays Office. We haven't seen the film but we'd like to.
Poster courtesy of Karl Setnik
February 21, 1940, 6:45 P.M. Lowell Thomas does the first televised news broadcast.
Thomas was the first news reporter for radio back in the 1930s and he was the first to do a televised news program. It was a simulcast with his regular radio program but it ended after a year when the infant television industry was crippled by need for critical materials in World War II. Thomas was not unhappy to see the television program end, for it had prevented him from traveling around the world, which he could do and still keep up his schedule of radio broadcasts. His career with CBS lasted over 45 years, and his broadcasts were only rarely done from a regular broadcast studio.
It would be well beyond the scope of this web page to even begin to try to recount all the things that Lowell Thomas did. He wrote over 50 books describing his adventures. We'll let these photos speak for themselves. Captions are provided by Mr. Thomas.
Radio newsmen with General Ike the day the
General Patton wearing his fifth star before it was confirmed by the Senate.
With the Generalissimo and General Albert C. Wedemeyer.
Captain Eddie and General Jimmy help me celebrate an anniversary.
Jordan's King Hussein, a man of wit as well as courage. Nine attempts have been made on his life. Thirteen years ago when I told an audience they should see the Jordan River, he said, "Better hurry up, or it won't be there."
L.T. recording the first broadcast ever made from Tibet - the first ever made from anywhere with battery equipment.
The Potala - one of the wonders of the world - built without elevators and no steel. With L.T., Jr., Rimshi Kypup, Luishahr Djoza, and Changwaba. (Tibet)
His parish included more than five hundred million people. (Nehru)
With Sir Edmund Hillary, Dr. Werner von Braun, Captain Finn Ronne, and Dr. Tom Gilliard.
Filming commentary for This Is Cinerama in a specially built office on his estate in Quaker Hill, New York, 1952.
He was quite possibly the most remarkable man in the 20th Century. If he wasn't then he was certainly a close acquaintance with whoever would qualify for that title. There wasn't a corner of the earth that he didn't travel to, and he took his audience, in the form of radio listeners, book, newspaper, and magazine readers, Cinerama fans, or television viewers with him. He was the voice of CBS news and Fox-Movietone newsreels. And from the instant that he saw Cinerama demonstrated in early 1952 he believed that it offered the public the most unique and involving experience they would ever have, whether showing them strange and unfamiliar sights or the familiar in an unfamiliar way. He spent his entire life going from adventure to adventure, learning about the world and its people, and sharing it with all of us. Cinerama was, in his opinion, made to do what he most liked to do, and what he did better than anyone before or since.
Photos courtesy of Lowell Thomas Archives