James Francis Thorpe (Sac and Fox (Sauk): Wa-Tho-Huk, translated as
"Bright Path"; May 22 or 28, 1887 – March 28, 1953)
was an American athlete and Olympic gold medalist. A member of the Sac
and Fox Nation, Thorpe became the first Native American to win a gold
medal for his home country. Considered one of the most versatile
athletes of modern sports, he won Olympic gold medals in the 1912
pentathlon and decathlon, and played
American football (collegiate and
professional), professional baseball, and basketball. He lost his
Olympic titles after it was found he had been paid for playing two
seasons of semi-professional baseball before competing in the
Olympics, thus violating the amateurism rules that were then in place.
In 1983, 30 years after his death, the International Olympic Committee
(IOC) restored his Olympic medals.
Thorpe grew up in the
Sac and Fox Nation
Sac and Fox Nation in Oklahoma, and attended
Carlisle Indian Industrial School
Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where he
was a two-time All-American for the school's football team. After his
Olympic success in 1912, which included a record score in the
decathlon, he added a victory in the All-Around Championship of the
Amateur Athletic Union. In 1913, Thorpe signed with the New York
Giants, and he played six seasons in
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball between
1913 and 1919. Thorpe joined the
Canton Bulldogs American football
team in 1915, helping them win three professional championships; he
later played for six teams in the
National Football League
National Football League (NFL). He
played as part of several all-American Indian teams throughout his
career, and barnstormed as a professional basketball player with a
team composed entirely of American Indians.
From 1920 to 1921, Thorpe was nominally the first president of the
American Professional Football Association
American Professional Football Association (APFA), which became the
NFL in 1922. He played professional sports until age 41, the end
of his sports career coinciding with the start of the Great
Depression. He struggled to earn a living after that, working several
odd jobs. He suffered from alcoholism, and lived his last years in
failing health and poverty. He was married three times and had eight
children, before suffering from heart failure and dying in 1953.
Thorpe has received various accolades for his athletic
Associated Press named him the "greatest athlete"
from the first 50 years of the 20th century, and the Pro Football Hall
of Fame inducted him as part of its inaugural class in 1963. A
Pennsylvania town was named in his honor and a monument site there is
the site of his remains, which were the subject of legal action.
Thorpe was portrayed in the 1951 film
Jim Thorpe – All-American, and
appeared in several films himself.
1 Early life
2 Amateur career
2.1 College career
2.2 Olympic career
2.3 All-Around champion
3 Professional career
3.1 Baseball free agent
3.2 Baseball, football, and basketball
4 Marriage and family
5 Later life
7 Victim of racism
8.1 Olympic awards reinstated
8.3 Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania
9 In film
12 Further reading
13 External links
Information about Thorpe's birth, name and ethnic background varies
widely. He was baptized "Jacobus Franciscus Thorpe" in the Catholic
Church. Thorpe was born in
Indian Territory of the United States
(later Oklahoma), but no birth certificate has been found. He was
generally considered to have been born on May 22, 1887, near the
town of Prague, Oklahoma. Thorpe himself said in a note to The
Shawnee News-Star in 1943 that he was born May 28, 1888, "near and
south of Bellemont – Pottawatomie County – along the banks of the
North Fork River ... hope this will clear up the inquiries as to
my birthplace." However, most biographers believe that he was born
on May 22, 1887, as that is what is listed on his baptismal
certificate. Bellemont was a small community, now disappeared, on the
line between Pottawatomie and Lincoln Counties. Thorpe referred
to Shawnee as his birthplace in the 1943 note.
Thorpe's parents were both of mixed-race ancestry. His father, Hiram
Thorpe, had an Irish father and a Sac and Fox Indian mother.
His mother, Charlotte Vieux, had a French father and a Potawatomi
mother, a descendant of Chief Louis Vieux. He was raised as a Sac and
Fox, and his native name, Wa-Tho-Huk, translated as "path lit by
great flash of lightning" or, more simply, "Bright Path". As was
the custom for Sac and Fox, he was named for something occurring
around the time of his birth, in this case the light brightening the
path to the cabin where he was born. Thorpe's parents were both Roman
Catholic, a faith which Thorpe observed throughout his adult life.
Thorpe attended the Sac and Fox Indian Agency school in Stroud,
Oklahoma, with his twin brother, Charlie. Charlie helped him through
school until he died of pneumonia when they were nine years old.
He ran away from school several times. His father then sent him to the
Haskell Institute, an Indian boarding school in Lawrence, Kansas, so
that he would not run away again. When his mother died of
childbirth complications two years later, he became depressed.
After several arguments with his father, he left home to work on a
In 1904 the sixteen-year-old Thorpe returned to his father and decided
Carlisle Indian Industrial School
Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
There his athletic ability was recognized and he was coached by Glenn
Scobey "Pop" Warner, one of the most influential coaches of early
American football history. Later that year he became orphaned
after Hiram Thorpe died from gangrene poisoning after being wounded in
a hunting accident, and Jim again dropped out of school. He
resumed farm work for a few years and then returned to Carlisle Indian
Jim Thorpe in
Carlisle Indian Industrial School
Carlisle Indian Industrial School uniform, c. 1909.
Thorpe began his athletic career at Carlisle in 1907 when he walked
past the track and beat all the school's high jumpers with an
impromptu 5-ft 9-in jump still in street clothes. His earliest
recorded track and field results come from 1907. He also competed in
football, baseball, lacrosse and even ballroom dancing, winning the
1912 intercollegiate ballroom dancing championship.
Jim Thorpe tackling a dummy that is made of weights and pulley on
wire, with Coach Warner, 1912.
Pop Warner was hesitant to allow Thorpe, his best track and field
athlete, to compete in a physical game such as football. Thorpe,
however, convinced Warner to let him try some rushing plays in
practice against the school team's defense; Warner assumed he would be
tackled easily and give up the idea. Thorpe "ran around past and
through them not once, but twice". He then walked over to Warner
and said "Nobody is going to tackle Jim", while flipping him the
Thorpe gained nationwide attention for the first time in 1911. As
a running back, defensive back, placekicker and punter, Thorpe scored
all his team's points—four field goals and a touchdown—in an
18–15 upset of Harvard, a top ranked team in the early days of the
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). His team finished
the season 11–1. In 1912 Carlisle won the national collegiate
championship largely as a result of his efforts – he scored 25
touchdowns and 198 points during the season, according to CNN's
Greg Botelho. Steve Boda, a researcher for the NCAA, credits
Thorpe with 27 touchdowns and 224 points. Thorpe rushed 191 times for
1,869 yards, according to Boda; the figures do not include statistics
from 2 of Carlisle's 14 games in 1912 because full records are not
Carlisle's 1912 record included a 27–6 victory over Army. In that
game, Thorpe's 92-yard touchdown was nullified by a teammate's
penalty, but on the next play Thorpe rushed for a 97-yard
touchdown. Future President Dwight Eisenhower, who played against
him that season, recalled of Thorpe in a 1961 speech:
Here and there, there are some people who are supremely endowed. My
memory goes back to Jim Thorpe. He never practiced in his life, and he
could do anything better than any other football player I ever
Thorpe was awarded All-American honors in both 1911 and 1912.
Football was – and would remain – Thorpe's favorite sport. He
did not compete in track and field in 1910 or 1911, even though
this turned out to be the sport in which he gained his greatest
In the spring of 1912, he started training for the Olympics. He had
confined his efforts to jumps, hurdles and shot-puts, but now added
pole vaulting, javelin, discus, hammer and 56 lb weight. In the
Olympic trials held at Celtic Park in New York, his all-round ability
stood out in all these events and so he earned a place on the team
that went to Sweden.
Thorpe at the 1912 Summer Olympics
1912 Summer Olympics
1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden, two new multi-event
disciplines were included, the pentathlon and the decathlon. A
pentathlon, based on the ancient Greek event, had been introduced at
the 1906 Intercalated Games. The 1912 version consisted of the
long jump, javelin throw, 200-meter dash, discus throw and 1500-meter
The decathlon was a relatively new event in modern athletics, although
a similar competition known as the all-around championship had been
part of American track meets since the 1880s and a version had been
featured on the program of the 1904 St. Louis Olympics. The
events of the new decathlon differed slightly from the American
version. Both seemed appropriate for Thorpe, who was so
versatile that he served as Carlisle's one-man team in several track
meets. According to his obituary in The New York Times, he could
run the 100-yard dash in 10 seconds flat; the 220 in
21.8 seconds; the 440 in 51.8 seconds; the 880 in 1:57, the
mile in 4:35; the 120-yard high hurdles in 15 seconds; and the
220-yard low hurdles in 24 seconds. He could long jump
23 ft 6 in and high-jump 6 ft 5 in. He could
pole vault 11 feet; put the shot 47 ft 9 in; throw the
javelin 163 feet; and throw the discus 136 feet.
Jim Thorpe, ca. 1910
Thorpe entered the U.S. Olympic trials for both the pentathlon
and the decathlon. He easily earned a place on the pentathlon team,
winning three events. The decathlon trial was subsequently cancelled,
and Thorpe was chosen to represent the U.S. in the event. The
pentathlon and decathlon teams also included future International
Olympic Committee president Avery Brundage.
His schedule in the Olympics was busy. Along with the decathlon and
pentathlon, he competed in the long jump and high jump. The first
competition was the pentathlon. He won four of the five events and
placed third in the javelin, an event he had not competed in before
1912. Although the pentathlon was primarily decided on place points,
points were also earned for the marks achieved in the individual
events. He won the gold medal. That same day, he qualified for the
high jump final in which he placed fourth, and also took seventh place
in the long jump. Even more remarkably, because someone had stolen his
shoes just before he was due to compete, he found some discarded ones
in a rubbish bin and won his medals wearing them.
Olympic medal record
Representing the United States
Thorpe's final event was the decathlon, his first (and as it turned
out, his only) decathlon. Strong competition from local
Hugo Wieslander was expected. Thorpe, however, easily
defeated Wieslander by more than 700 points. He placed in the top four
in all ten events, and his Olympic record of 8,413 points would stand
for nearly two decades. Overall, Thorpe won eight of the 15
individual events comprising the pentathlon and decathlon.
As was the custom of the day, the medals were presented to the
athletes during the closing ceremonies of the games. Along with the
two gold medals, Thorpe also received two challenge prizes, which were
donated by King Gustav V of Sweden for the decathlon and Czar
Nicholas II of Russia for the pentathlon. Several sources recount
that, when awarding Thorpe his prize, King Gustav said, "You, sir, are
the greatest athlete in the world", to which Thorpe replied, "Thanks,
King". Contemporary sources are lacking, however, suggesting
that the story is apocryphal. The anecdote appeared in newspapers
as early as 1948, 36 years after his appearance in the
Olympics, and in books as early as 1952.
Thorpe's successes had not gone unnoticed at home, and on his return
he was the star attraction in a ticker-tape parade on Broadway. He
remembered later, "I heard people yelling my name, and I couldn't
realize how one fellow could have so many friends."
Apart from his track and field appearances, he also played in one of
two exhibition baseball games at the 1912 Olympics, which
featured two teams composed mostly of U.S. track and field
athletes. Thorpe had previous experience in the sport, as the
public would soon learn.
After his victories at the Olympic Games in Sweden, on September 2,
1912, he returned to Celtic Park, the home of the Irish American
Athletic Club, in Queens, New York (where he had qualified four months
earlier for the Olympic Games), to compete in the Amateur Athletic
Union's All-Around Championship. Competing against
Bruno Brodd of the
Irish American Athletic Club
Irish American Athletic Club and J. Bredemus of Princeton University,
he won seven of the ten events contested and came in second in the
remaining three. With a total point score of 7,476 points, Thorpe
broke the previous record of 7,385 points set in 1909, (also set
at Celtic Park), by Martin Sheridan, the champion athlete of the Irish
American Athletic Club. Sheridan, a five-time Olympic gold
medalist, was present to watch his record broken, approached Thorpe
after the event and shook his hand saying, "Jim, my boy, you're a
great man. I never expect to look upon a finer athlete." He told a
reporter from New York World, "Thorpe is the greatest athlete that
ever lived. He has me beaten fifty ways. Even when I was in my prime,
I could not do what he did today."
In 1912, strict rules regarding amateurism were in effect for athletes
participating in the Olympics. Athletes who received money prizes for
competitions, were sports teachers or had competed previously against
professionals were not considered amateurs and were barred from
In late January 1913, the
Worcester Telegram published a story
announcing that Thorpe had played professional baseball, and other
U.S. newspapers followed up the story. Thorpe had indeed
played professional baseball in the
Eastern Carolina League for Rocky
Mount, North Carolina, in 1909 and 1910, receiving meager pay;
reportedly as little as US$2 ($53 today) per game and as much as US$35
($919 today) per week. College players, in fact, regularly spent
summers playing professionally but most used aliases, unlike
Although the public did not seem to care much about Thorpe's past,
Amateur Athletic Union
Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), and especially its secretary James
Edward Sullivan, took the case very seriously. Thorpe wrote a
letter to Sullivan, in which he admitted playing professional
I hope I will be partly excused by the fact that I was simply an
Indian schoolboy and did not know all about such things. In fact, I
did not know that I was doing wrong, because I was doing what I knew
several other college men had done, except that they did not use their
own names ...
His letter did not help. The AAU decided to withdraw Thorpe's
amateur status retroactively. Later that year, the International
Olympic Committee (IOC) unanimously decided to strip Thorpe of his
Olympic titles, medals and awards and declare him a
Although Thorpe had played for money, the AAU and IOC did not follow
the rules for disqualification. The rulebook for the
1912 Olympics stated that protests had to be made "within"
30 days from the closing ceremonies of the games. The first
newspaper reports did not appear until January 1913, about six months
after the Stockholm Games had concluded. There is also some
evidence that Thorpe was known to have played professional baseball
before the Olympics, but the AAU had ignored the issue until being
confronted with it in 1913. The only positive element of this
affair for Thorpe was that, as soon as the news was reported that he
had been declared a professional, he received offers from professional
Baseball free agent
Thorpe as a member of the New York Giants
April 14, 1913, for the New York Giants
Last MLB appearance
September 25, 1919, for the Boston Braves
Runs batted in
New York Giants
New York Giants (1913–1915, 1917)
Cincinnati Reds (1917)
New York Giants
New York Giants (1918–1919)
Boston Braves (1919)
Because the minor league team that last held Jim Thorpe's contract had
disbanded in 1910, he found himself in the rare position of being a
sought-after free agent at the major league level during the era of
the reserve clause, and thus had a choice of baseball teams for which
to play. In January 1913, he turned down a starting position with
the American League cellar-dwelling St. Louis Browns, choosing instead
to join the 1912 National League champion New York Giants, who,
with Thorpe playing in 19 of their 151 games, would repeat as the
1913 National League champions. Immediately following the Giants'
October loss in the 1913 World Series, Thorpe and the Giants joined
Chicago White Sox
Chicago White Sox for a world tour. Barnstorming across the
United States and then around the world, Thorpe was the celebrity of
the tour. Thorpe's presence increased the publicity, attendance
and gate receipts for the tour. He met with
Pope Pius X
Pope Pius X and Abbas
II Hilmi Bey (the last
Khedive of Egypt), and played before 20,000
people in London including King George V.
Baseball, football, and basketball
World Famous Indians letterhead
Jim Thorpe in 1913
Thorpe signed with the
New York Giants
New York Giants baseball club in 1913 and
played sporadically with them as an outfielder for three seasons.
After playing in the minor leagues with the Milwaukee Brewers in
1916, he returned to the Giants in 1917 but was sold to the
Cincinnati Reds early in the season. In the "double no-hitter" between
Fred Toney of the Reds and
Hippo Vaughn of the Chicago Cubs, Thorpe
drove in the winning run in the 10th inning. Late in the season,
he was sold back to the Giants. Again, he played sporadically for them
in 1918 before being traded to the Boston Braves on May 21, 1919, for
Pat Ragan. In his career, he amassed 91 runs scored, 82 runs
batted in and a .252 batting average over 289 games. He
continued to play minor league baseball until 1922.
But Thorpe had not abandoned football either. He first played
professional football in 1913 as a member of the Indiana-based Pine
Village Pros, a team that had a several-season winning streak against
local teams during the 1910s. He then signed with the Canton
Bulldogs in 1915. They paid him $250 ($6,048 today) a game, a
tremendous wage at the time. Before signing him Canton was
averaging 1,200 fans a game, but 8,000 showed up for his debut
against the Massillon Tigers. The team won titles in 1916, 1917,
and 1919. He reportedly ended the 1919 championship game by kicking a
wind-assisted 95-yard punt from his team's own 5-yard line,
effectively putting the game out of reach. In 1920, the Bulldogs
were one of 14 teams to form the American Professional Football
Association (APFA), which would become the National Football League
(NFL) two years later. Thorpe was nominally the APFA's first
president, but spent most of the year playing for Canton and a year
later was replaced as president by Joseph Carr. He continued to
play for Canton, coaching the team as well. Between 1921 and 1923, he
helped organize and played for the
Oorang Indians (LaRue, Ohio), an
all-Native American team. Although the team's record was 3–6 in
1922, and 1–10 in 1923, he played well and was selected for
the Green Bay Press-Gazette's first All-NFL team in 1923, which would
later be formally recognized by the NFL as the league's official
All-NFL team in 1931).
Thorpe never played for an NFL championship team. He retired from
professional football at age 41, having played 52 NFL
games for six teams from 1920 to 1928.
Until 2005, most of Thorpe's biographers were unaware of his
basketball career until a ticket that documented his time in
professional basketball was discovered in an old book that year.
By 1926, he was the main feature of the "World Famous Indians" of
LaRue, a traveling basketball team. "Jim Thorpe's world famous
Indians" barnstormed for at least two years (1927–28) in multiple
states. Although stories about Thorpe's team were published in
some local newspapers at the time, his basketball career had not been
Marriage and family
Thorpe married three times and had eight children (one of whom died in
childhood). In 1913, Thorpe married Iva M. Miller, whom he had met
at Carlisle. In 1917, Iva and Thorpe bought a house now known as the
Jim Thorpe House
Jim Thorpe House in Yale, Oklahoma, and lived there until 1923.
They had four children: Gail, James F., Charlotte, and Frances.
Miller filed for divorce from Thorpe in 1925, claiming desertion.
In 1926, Thorpe married Freeda Verona Kirkpatrick (September 19, 1905
– March 2, 2007). She was working for the manager of the baseball
team for which he was playing at the time. They had four sons:
Phillip, William, Richard, and John. Kirkpatrick divorced Thorpe in
1941, after they had been married for 15 years.
Lastly, Thorpe married Patricia Gladys Askew on June 2, 1945; she
was with him when he died.
After his athletic career, Thorpe struggled to provide for his family.
He found it difficult to work a non-sports-related job and never held
a job for an extended period of time. During the
Great Depression in
particular, he had various jobs, among others as an extra for several
movies, usually playing an American Indian chief in Westerns. He also
worked as a construction worker, a doorman (bouncer), a security guard
and a ditch digger, and briefly joined the
United States Merchant
Marine in 1945. Thorpe was a chronic alcoholic during his
He ran out of money sometime in the early 1950s. When
hospitalized for lip cancer in 1950, he was admitted as a charity
case. At a press conference announcing the procedure, his wife,
Patricia, wept and pleaded for help, saying, "We're broke ... Jim
has nothing but his name and his memories. He has spent money on his
own people and has given it away. He has often been exploited."
In early 1953, Thorpe went into heart failure for the third time while
dining with Patricia in their home in Lomita, California. He was
briefly revived by artificial respiration and spoke to those around
him, but lost consciousness shortly afterward and died on March 28 at
the age of 65.
Victim of racism
Thorpe, whose parents were both half Caucasian, was raised as an
American Indian. His accomplishments occurred during a period of
severe racial inequality in the United States. It has often been
suggested that his medals were stripped because of his ethnicity.
While it is difficult to prove this, the public comment at the time
largely reflected this view. At the time Thorpe won his gold
medals, not all Native Americans were recognized as
U.S. citizens. (The U.S. government had wanted them to make
concessions to adopt European-American ways to receive such
recognition.) Citizenship was not granted to all American Indians
While Thorpe attended Carlisle, students' ethnicity was used for
marketing purposes. The football team was called the Indians. A
photograph of Thorpe and the 1911 football team emphasized racial
differences among the competing athletes; the inscription on the most
important game ball of that season reads, "1911, Indians 18,
Harvard 15." Additionally, the school and journalists often
categorized sporting competitions as conflicts of Indians against
whites; newspaper headlines such as "Indians Scalp Army 27–6" or
Jim Thorpe on Rampage" made stereotypical journalistic play of the
Indian background of Carlisle's football team. The first notice of
The New York Times
The New York Times was headlined "Indian Thorpe in Olympiad;
Redskin from Carlisle Will Strive for Place on American Team." His
accomplishments were described in a similar racial context by other
newspapers and sportswriters throughout his life.
Olympic awards reinstated
Over the years, supporters of Thorpe attempted to have his Olympic
titles reinstated. US Olympic officials, including former teammate
and later president of the IOC Avery Brundage, rebuffed several
attempts, with Brundage once saying, "Ignorance is no excuse."
Most persistent were the author Robert Wheeler and his wife, Florence
Ridlon. They succeeded in having the AAU and
United States Olympic
Committee overturn its decision and restore Thorpe's amateur status
In 1982, Wheeler and Ridlon established the
Jim Thorpe Foundation and
gained support from the U.S. Congress. Armed with this support
and evidence from 1912 proving that Thorpe's disqualification had
occurred after the 30-day time period allowed by Olympics rules, they
succeeded in making the case to the IOC. In October 1982, the IOC
Executive Committee approved Thorpe's reinstatement. In an unusual
ruling, they declared that Thorpe was co-champion with Ferdinand Bie
and Wieslander, although both of these athletes had always said they
considered Thorpe to be the only champion. In a ceremony on January
18, 1983, the IOC presented two of Thorpe's children, Gale and Bill,
with commemorative medals. Thorpe's original medals had been held
in museums, but they had been stolen and have never been
recovered. Although Thorpe is listed as a gold medalist by the
IOC, his results from 1912 have not been restored to the official
Thorpe as backfield coach for Indiana, 1915
Thorpe's monument, featuring the quote from Gustav V ("You, sir,
are the greatest athlete in the world."), still stands near the town
named for him, Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. The grave rests on mounds
of soil from Thorpe's native
Oklahoma and from the stadium in which he
won his Olympic medals.
Thorpe's achievements received great acclaim from sports journalists,
both during his lifetime and since his death. In 1950, an Associated
Press poll of almost 400 sportswriters and broadcasters voted
Thorpe the "greatest athlete" of the first half of the
20th century. That same year, the
Associated Press named
Thorpe the "greatest
American football player" of the first half of
the century. In 1999, the
Associated Press placed him third on its
list of the top athletes of the century, following
Babe Ruth and
ESPN ranked Thorpe seventh on their list of best
North American athletes of the century.
Thorpe was inducted into the
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963, one of
seventeen players in the charter class. Thorpe is memorialized in
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame rotunda with a larger-than-life statue.
He was also inducted into halls of fame for college football, American
Olympic teams, and the national track and field competition.
President Richard Nixon, as authorized by U.S. Senate Joint
Resolution 73, proclaimed Monday, April 16, 1973, as "Jim Thorpe
Day" to promote the nationwide recognition of Thorpe. In 1986,
Jim Thorpe Association established an award with Thorpe's name.
Jim Thorpe Award is given annually to the best defensive back in
college football. The annual
Thorpe Cup athletics meeting is named in
his honor. The
United States Postal Service issued a 32¢ stamp
on February 3, 1998 as part of the
Celebrate the Century
Celebrate the Century stamp sheet
In a poll of sports fans conducted by ABC Sports, Thorpe was
voted the Greatest Athlete of the Twentieth Century out of 15 other
athletes including Muhammad Ali, Babe Ruth, Jesse Owens, Wayne
Gretzky, Jack Nicklaus, and Michael Jordan. In 2015,
proposed designs for the 2018 Native American dollar coin featuring
Thorpe were released.
Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania
After Thorpe's funeral was held at St. Benedict's
Catholic Church in
Shawnee, Oklahoma, his body lay in state at Fairview Cemetery
after citizens had paid to have it moved to Shawnee by train from
California. The people began a fund-raising effort to erect a
memorial for Thorpe at the town's athletic park. Local officials had
asked state legislators for funding, but a bill that included $25,000
for their proposal was vetoed by Governor Johnston Murray.
Meanwhile, Thorpe's third wife, unbeknownst to the rest of his family,
took Thorpe's body and had it shipped to Pennsylvania when she heard
that the small Pennsylvania towns of Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk
were seeking to attract business. She made a deal with
officials which, according to Thorpe's son Jack, was done by Patricia
for monetary considerations. The towns bought Thorpe's remains,
erected a monument to him, merged, and renamed the newly united town
in his honor Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, even though Thorpe had never
been there. The monument site contains his tomb, two statues
of him in athletic poses, and historical markers describing his
In June 2010, Jack Thorpe filed a federal lawsuit against the borough
of Jim Thorpe, seeking to have his father's remains returned to his
homeland and re-interred near other family members in Oklahoma. Citing
the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, Jack was
arguing to bring his father's remains to the reservation in Oklahoma,
where they would be buried near those of his father, sisters and
brother, a mile from the place he was born. He claimed that the
agreement between his stepmother and Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, borough
officials was made against the wishes of other family members who want
him buried in Native American land. Jack Thorpe died at 73
on February 22, 2011.
In April 2013, U.S. District Judge Richard Caputo ruled that Jim
Thorpe borough amounts to a museum under the Native American Graves
Protection and Repatriation Act ("NAGPRA"). A lawyer for Bill and
Richard Thorpe said the men would pursue the legal process to have
their father returned to Sac and Fox land in central Oklahoma. On
October 23, 2014, the
United States Court of Appeals for the Third
Circuit reversed Judge Caputo's ruling. The appeals court held that
Jim Thorpe borough is not a "museum", as that term is used in NAGPRA,
and that the plaintiffs therefore could not invoke that federal
statute to seek reinterment of Thorpe's remains. In NAGPRA
language, "'museum' means any institution or State or local government
agency (including any institution of higher learning) that receives
Federal funds and has possession of, or control over, Native American
cultural items." The Court of Appeals directed the trial court to
enter a judgment in favor of the borough. The appeals court said
Pennsylvania law allows the plaintiffs to ask a state court to order
reburial of Thorpe's remains, but noted, "once a body is interred
there is great reluctance in permitting same to be moved, absent clear
and compelling reasons for such a move." On October 5, 2015, the
United States Supreme Court refused to hear the matter, effectively
bringing the legal process to an end.
Goudey Sport Kings card
In the 1930s, Thorpe appeared in several short films and features.
Usually, his roles were cameo appearances as an Indian, although in
the 1932 comedy, Always Kickin, Thorpe was prominently cast in a
speaking part as himself, a kicking coach teaching young football
players to drop-kick. In 1931, during the Great Depression, he sold
the film rights to his life story to
MGM for $1,500 ($24,000
today). Thorpe portrayed an umpire in the 1940 film Knute
Rockne, All American. He played a member of the Navajo band in
the 1950 film Wagon Master.
Thorpe was memorialized in the
Warner Bros. film
Jim Thorpe –
All-American (1951) starring Burt Lancaster, with Billy Gray
performing as Thorpe as a child. The film was directed by Michael
Curtiz. Although there were rumors that Thorpe received no money, he
was paid $15,000 by
Warner Bros. plus a $2,500 donation toward an
annuity for him by the studio head of publicity. The movie
included archival footage of the 1912 and 1932 Olympics. Thorpe
was seen in one scene as a coaching assistant. It was also
distributed in the United Kingdom, where it was called Man of
^ "Hall of Famers by Jersey Number". Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Retrieved April 6, 2017.
^ a b Sources vary. See, for example, Flatter, Ron. "Thorpe preceded
Deion, Bo", ESPN. Retrieved December 9, 2016, and
Golus, Carrie (2012).
Jim Thorpe (Revised Edition), Twenty-First
Century Books. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-4677-0397-0.
^ Cook. pg. 115
Jim Thorpe Biography". Encyclopedia of World Biography. Retrieved
November 13, 2011.
^ a b Golus, Carrie (August 1, 2012).
Jim Thorpe (Revised Edition).
Twenty-First Century Books. p. 4.
^ a b O'Hanlon-Lincoln. pg. 129
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "
Jim Thorpe Is Dead On West Coast at
64", The New York Times, March 29, 1953. Retrieved October 26, 2013.
^ a b Wheeler. pg. 291
^ "Bellemont: "Ghost" town of Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma".
Rootsweb. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
^ "Author of Jim Thorpe's biography shakes things up". Times News
Online. November 22, 2010. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
^ Hannigan, Dave (August 3, 2016). "America at Large: Bizarre coda to
Olympian Jim Thorpe's epic life". The Irish Times. Retrieved June 4,
^ Redmond, Patrick R. (2014). The Irish and the Making of American
Sport, 1835–1920. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company.
p. 279. ISBN 978-1-4766-0584-5.
Jim Thorpe Leaps To Fame On Carlisle Athletic Field". The
Washington Post. December 15, 1912. p. 2. Retrieved October 24,
2015 – via Newspapers.com.
^ O'Hanlon-Lincoln. pg. 131
^ a b Jim Thorpe – Fast facts, cgmworldwide.com. Retrieved
April 23, 2007.
^ a b c
Jim Thorpe – Olympic Hero and Native American,
olympics30.com. Retrieved April 23, 2007.
^ a b c Hoxie. pg. 628
^ a b c d e Botelho, Greg. "Roller-coaster life of Indian icon,
sports' first star", CNN.com, July 14, 2004. Retrieved April 23, 2007.
^ a b Encyclopedia of World Biography. Jim Thorpe, Thomson-Gale,
Bookrags, June 2006. Retrieved April 23, 2007.
^ a b "
Jim Thorpe cruelly treated by authorities".
Illustrated. Reuters. August 8, 2004. Archived from the original on
November 14, 2007. Retrieved April 15, 2008.
^ a b c d e Jeansonne. pg. 60
^ a b "Indian Thorpe in Olympiad: Redskin from Carlisle Will Strive
for Place on American Team", The New York Times, April 28, 1912.
Retrieved April 2, 2007.
^ Buford. pg. 151
^ a b c Jim Thorpe, usoc.org, Retrieved April 26, 2007. Archived
September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
^ O'Hanlon-Lincoln. pg. 144
* Jim Thorpe, profootballhalloffame.com. Retrieved April 23, 2007.
^ Buford. pg. 113
^ a b Buford. pg. 112
^ Zarnowski (2013). pg. 150
^ Zarnowski (2005). pgs. 29–30, 240
^ "Athletics at the 1904 St. Louis Summer Games: Men's All-Around
Championship". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
^ Buford. pg. 114
^ Findling and Pelle. pgs. 473–4
^ "Battle over athlete Jim Thorpe's burial site continues". The
Washington Post. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
^ "Jim Thorpe". National Track and Field Hall of Fame. Retrieved
January 21, 2018.
^ "Jim Thorpe". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved January 21,
^ Jenkins, Sally (August 10, 2012). "Greatest Olympic athlete? Jim
Thorpe, not Usain Bolt". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 7,
^ a b c d e Flatter, Ron. "Thorpe preceded Deion, Bo", ESPN.com.
Retrieved April 23, 2007.
^ "Jim Thorpe, Sac and Fox Athlete" by Bob Berontas, Chelsea House
Publications (London, 1993), ISBN 978-0-7910-1722-7.
^ Kate Buford, Native American Son: The Life and Sporting Legend of
Jim Thorpe (Random House Digital, 2010).
^ e.g., "Sports in Brief", Amarillo (TX) Daily News, Saturday,
March 13, 1948, pg. 2 (available at newspaperarchive.com).
^ John Durant and Otto Bettmann, Pictorial History of American Sports,
from Colonial Times to the Present (A. S. Barnes, 1952) pg. 143.
^ Cava. pgs. 8–9
^ Buford. pgs. 158–61
^ "Indian Thorpe is Best Athlete – Olympic Champion Wins
All-Around Championship and Breaks Record". The New York Times,
September 3, 1912.
^ Wheeler. pg. 118
^ Buford. pg. 121
^ ""Jim" Thorpe Admits He Is Professional, and Retires from
Athletics", The Washington Post, January 28, 1913, pg. 8. "Charges
that Thorpe had played professional baseball in Winston Salem, N.C.
were first published in a Worcester (Mass.) newspaper last week."
^ a b c Anderson, Dave. "Jim Thorpe's Family Feud", The New York
Times, February 7, 1983. Retrieved April 23, 2007.
^ Schaffer and Smith. pg. 50.
^ Schaffer and Smith. pg. 40.
^ Buford. pg. 161
^ Campagna, Jeff (May 28, 2010). "Wishing
Jim Thorpe a Happy
Birthday". Smithsonian. Retrieved May 11, 2017.
^ Buford. pg. 167
^ Thomas, Louisa (July 29, 2016). "Doping and an Olympic Crisis of
Idealism". The New Yorker. Retrieved May 11, 2017.
^ Quirk. pg. 42
^ Buford. pg. 162
^ Dyreson. pg. 171
^ Rogge, Johnson, and Rendell. pg. 60
^ "Thorpe is to Play Ball with Giants; Famous Indian Athlete Accepts
McGraw's Terms Over the Telephone", The New York Times, February 1,
1913. Retrieved April 2, 2007.
^ "Sox and Giants on World's Tour; Comiskey-McGraw Party Leaves
Chicago Oct 19 and Arrives in New York March 6", The New York Times.
Retrieved April 23, 2007.
^ Elfers. pg. 210
^ a b Clavin, Tom. "The Inside Story of Baseball's Grand World Tour of
1914", Smithsonian, March 21, 2014. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
^ Elfers. pgs. 185–7, 233
^ "Jim Thorpe's Speed Big Hit In A.A." The Janesville Daily Gazette ,
July 10, 1916. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
^ Daley, Arthur. "Baseball's 'Ten Greatest Moments'", The New York
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^ Jim Thorpe, baseball-reference.com. Retrieved April 23, 2007.
^ Buford. pg. 232
^ "NFL History by Decade, 1911–1920". National Football League.
Retrieved September 7, 2009.
^ a b c Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 18
^ Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 20
^ C. Richard King (2006). Native athletes in sport & society: a
reader. Bison Books. pp. 11–12. ISBN 0-8032-7828-4.
^ Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 34
^ Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 40
^ Neft, Cohen, and Korch. pg. 41
^ "Jim Thorpe". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
^ a b "History Detectives – Episode 10, 2005:
Jim Thorpe Ticket,
Jamestown, New York" (PDF). pbs.org. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
^ Buford. pgs. 253–4
^ Pennington, Bill. "
Jim Thorpe and a Ticket to Serendipity", The New
York Times, March 29, 2005. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
^ "National Register of Historic Places Inventory – Nomination Form"
(PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
^ List of marriages, divorces, births, and deaths, Time, April 6,
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^ a b "Athlete Thorpe's 2nd wife, Freeda, dies at 101". Seattle
Post-Intelligencer. Associated Press. March 7, 2007. Retrieved June 1,
^ Buford. pg. 366
^ O'Hanlon-Lincoln. pgs. 144–5
^ Briefs, Time, February 22, 1943, available online via time.com.
Retrieved May 21, 2007.
^ Jeansonne. pg. 61
^ a b Associated Press. "Thorpe Has Cancerous Growth Removed From Lip
in Hospital at Philadelphia", The New York Times, November 10, 1951.
Retrieved April 23, 2007.
^ Watterson. pg. 151
* Elfers. pg. 18
^ Schaffer and Smith. pg. 50
^ Lincoln and Slagle. pg. 282
^ a b Bloom quoted in Bird. pg. 97
Jim Thorpe Photo Collection, historicalsociety.com. Retrieved May
^ Demaree, Al. "Thorpe, the Indian, Best All-American", Los Angeles
Times, November 24, 1926. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
Jim Thorpe Dies of Heart Attack at 64" Chicago Tribune, March 29,
1953. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
* Roetman, Sheena L. "America's Greatest Athlete Ever, Jim Thorpe, Was
Indigenous", Vice Media, November 27, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
^ Anderson, Dave. "Jim Thorpe's Medals", The New York Times, June 22,
1975. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
^ Wethe, David and Whiteley, Michael. "Legends lunches begin this fall
with Bob Lilly", Dallas Business Journal, July 19, 2002. Retrieved
April 27, 2007.
^ O'Hanlon-Lincoln. pg 132
^ Jenkins, Sally (July 2012). "Why Are Jim Thorpe's Olympic Records
Still Not Recognized?". Smithsonian. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
^ Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania: Jim Thorpe's Tourist Attraction Grave,
Roadside America. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
^ "Jim Thorpe", Archived September 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
encarta.msn.com. Retrieved April 23, 2007. Archived October 3, 2009.
Jim Thorpe Biography, cgmworldwide.com. Retrieved April 23, 2007.
^ Associated Press. Top 100 athletes of the 20th century, Archived
March 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. USA Today, December 21, 1999.
Retrieved October 7, 2017.
^ "Top N. American athletes of the century", espn.com. Retrieved March
^ "Hall of Famers by Year of Enshrinement". Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Retrieved September 6, 2012.
^ Richard Nixon: Proclamation 4209 –
Jim Thorpe Day, The American
Presidency Project. Retrieved November 8, 2016.
^ "16 Jahre "Thorpe Cup"". Zehnkampf.de (in German). Archived from the
original on April 5, 2010. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
^ "American Indian Subjects on
United States Postage Stamps" (PDF).
United States Postal Service. February 2011. Archived from the
original (PDF) on March 30, 2013. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
^ "Wide World of Sports athlete of the century".
ESPN Network. January
14, 2000. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
^ "Jim Thorpe: All-Around Athlete and American Indian Advocate".
Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
^ Unser, Mike (November 6, 2015). 2018 "Native American $1 Coin
Designs Depict Jim Thorpe". Coin News. Retrieved November 11, 2015.
Jim Thorpe Body Arrives Home For Burial Rite". The Wilmington News.
United Press. April 13, 1953. p. 9. Retrieved July 14,
^ Buford. pgs. 367–9
^ Wheeler. pgs. 228–9
^ Hagerty, James R. (July 21, 2010). "Is There Life After Jim Thorpe
For Jim Thorpe, Pa.?". The Wall Street Journal. p. A14.
^ Zucchino, David (October 18, 2013). "Jim Thorpe, Pa., fights to keep
its namesake". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
^ "Frank Deford of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel interviews Jack
Thorpe". HBO (official channel on YouTube). Retrieved July 9,
^ O'Hanlon-Lincoln. pg. 148
^ a b c "Pennsylvania town named for
Jim Thorpe can keep athlete's
body". CBS News. October 23, 2014. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
^ Hedes, Jarrad (May 19, 2017). "
Jim Thorpe plans to add third
Olympian statue". Lehighton Times News. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
^ Loverro, Thom (August 2, 2013). "
Jim Thorpe sleeps on – for now
– in town where everyone knows his name". The Guardian. Retrieved
June 8, 2017.
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Jim Thorpe Sues for His
Remains". wnep.com. Archived from the original on March 1, 2012.
Retrieved June 25, 2010.
^ "Jim Thorpe's son sues town of
Jim Thorpe over location of athlete's
remains". The Patriot-News. Associated Press. June 24, 2010. Retrieved
May 19, 2017.
^ "Jim Thorpe's son Jack dies". Retrieved July 9, 2012.
^ "Judge Sides With Sons About Legendary Athlete Jim Thorpe's
Remains". KOTV-DT. April 21, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2013.
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Office of the Law Revision Counsel. Retrieved May 23, 2017.
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body to remain in town that bears his name". Pocono Record. Retrieved
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^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project.
"Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of
Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
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^ Buford. pgs. 313–4
^ Hilger. pg. 324
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Jim Thorpe, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, 2010), pg. 356.
^ a b Thorp, Charles. "8 Olympic Movies That Medal". Men's Journal.
Retrieved June 15, 2017.
^ Williams. pg. 133
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American football portal
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Jim Thorpe at the Pro Football Hall of Fame
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or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
Jim Thorpe on IMDb
Oklahoma interview with Bill Thorpe. First person interview
conducted on August 3, 2015, with Bill Thorpe about his father, Jim
Canton Bulldogs head coaches
Bill Laub (1905)
Blondy Wallace (1905–1906)
Jack Cusack (1912–1915)
Harry Hazlett (1913–1915)
Jim Thorpe (1915–1920)
Cap Edwards (1921)
Guy Chamberlin (1922–1923)
Harry Robb (1925–1926)
Pete Henry (1926)
Cleveland Tigers/Indians head coaches
Peggy Parratt (1916)
Stan Cofall &
Al Pierotti (1920)
Jim Thorpe (1921)
National Football League
National Football League club 1922–1923
Based in La Rue, Ohio
Nick Lassa wrestles a Bear
Invention of the halftime show
NFL Commissioners and presidents
Jim Thorpe (1920–1921)
Joseph Carr (1921–1939)
Carl Storck (1939–1941)
Elmer Layden (1941–1946)
Bert Bell (1946–1959)
Austin Gunsel # (1959–1960)
Pete Rozelle (1960–1989)
Paul Tagliabue (1989–2006)
Roger Goodell (2006– )
Pound sign (#) denotes interim commissioner.
National Football League
National Football League founders
Group who founded the
National Football League
National Football League in Canton,
September 17, 1920 at Ralph Hay's
Racine (Chicago) Cardinals
Rock Island Independents
Jim Thorpe—awards and honors
College Football All-America Team
College Football All-America Team consensus selections
QB Art Howe
QB Earl Sprackling
HB Jim Thorpe
HB Percy Langdon Wendell
FB John Dalton
E Douglas Bomeisler
E Sanford White
T Leland Devore
T Edward Hart
G Joseph Duff
G Bob Fisher
C Hank Ketcham
College Football All-America Team
College Football All-America Team consensus selections
QB George Crowther
HB Charles Brickley
HB Jim Thorpe
FB Leroy Mercer
E Douglas Bomeisler
E Sam Felton
T Bob Butler
T Wesley Englehorn
G John Logan
G Stan Pennock
C Hank Ketcham
New York Giants
New York Giants 1925 inaugural season roster
20 Doc Alexander
3 Al Bedner
2 Heinie Benkert
7 Lynn Bomar
5 Matt Brennan
23 Art Carney
9 Jim Frugone
1 Hinkey Haines
6 Dutch Hendrian
22 Paul Jappe
William C. Kenyon
16 Jack McBride
10 Ed McGinley
21 Century Milstead
4 Tommy Myers
8 Bob Nash
11 Swede Nordstrom
12 Babe Parnell
17 Owen Reynolds
21 Jim Thorpe
15 Larry Walbridge
25 Joe Williams
Head Coach: Bob Folwell
NFL's 1920s All-Decade Team
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1963
George Preston Marshall
Members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame
J. H. Johnson
Wide receivers /
Olympic champions in the men's all-around, pentathlon and decathlon
1904 Tom Kiely (GBR)
1912 Jim Thorpe (USA)
1912 Ferdinand Bie (NOR)
1920 Eero Lehtonen (FIN)
1924 Eero Lehtonen (FIN)
1912 Jim Thorpe (USA)
1912 Hugo Wieslander (SWE)
1920 Helge Løvland (NOR)
1924 Harold Osborn (USA)
1928 Paavo Yrjölä (FIN)
1932 James Bausch (USA)
1936 Glenn Morris (USA)
1948 Bob Mathias (USA)
1952 Bob Mathias (USA)
1956 Milt Campbell (USA)
1960 Rafer Johnson (USA)
1964 Willi Holdorf (EUA)
1968 Bill Toomey (USA)
1972 Mykola Avilov (URS)
1976 Bruce Jenner (USA)
1980 Daley Thompson (GBR)
1984 Daley Thompson (GBR)
1988 Christian Schenk (GDR)
1992 Robert Změlík (TCH)
1996 Dan O'Brien (USA)
2000 Erki Nool (EST)
2004 Roman Šebrle (CZE)
2008 Bryan Clay (USA)
2012 Ashton Eaton (USA)
2016 Ashton Eaton (USA)
BNF: cb149758484 (data)