Unsolved Mystery

10 Jun 2010 – Jim Thompson

Headlines in 1967: Mystery of missing Thai Silk King – American businessman and founder of the modern Thai silk industry, James HW Thompson disappeared while supposedly on a stroll in the jungle-clad Cameron Highlands/Malaysia.

Jim Thompson born 1906 was the youngest of 5 children. Jim’s father, a wealthy Delaware business man was involved in the textile industry. Jim was educated at Princeton U. During the 1930s, he led an active social life and was politically active. His increasingly liberal politics alienated him from his wealthy Republican family. By 1940 he had sought escape from them by military service. After WWII, he took charge of the BKK’s Office of Strategic Services/OSS office (USA intelligence agency formed during WW II).

Leaving the US Army in 1946, he returned home to bring his wife back to Thailand. She did not agree to this and divorced him. Thompson returned to BKK, embarking on a renovation of the Oriental Hotel with a number of partners. From here he worked with a number of Thai investors to open a Thai Silk Company, in 1947. A civilian once more, Thompson devoted himself to revitalizing a cottage industry of hand-woven silk, which had for centuries been a household craft in Thailand but was dying out.

Besides inventing the bright jewel tones and dramatic color combinations nowadays associated with Thai silk, he raised thousands of Thailand’s poorest people out of poverty, making millionaires out of his core group of weavers by giving them shares of the Thai Silk Company.

In 1958 he began what was to be the pinnacle of his architectural achievement, a new home to showcase his art collection. Formed from parts of six antique Thai houses, his home sits on a canal across from Bangkrua, where his weavers were then located. Most of the 19th century houses were dismantled and moved from Ayutthaya, but the largest – a weaver’s house now the living room, came from Bangkrua. The Jim Thompson House is now a museum open to the public.

Thompson went to the Cameron Highlands Fri 24 Mar 1967 and stayed with friends at the Moonlight Cottage. On Easter Sun 26 Mar, he attended morning services at All Souls’ Church. Later that same day, at app 1530hrs, he went for a walk but failed to ever return or to be seen again.

Thompson Bar & Restaurant/หิ้วท้องชวนกิน***

Secret’s in the sauce – from the movie Fried Green Tomatoes