Jim Thorpe, the World's Greatest Athlete

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Black Hawk

Photos for Press Synopses Film Credits (PDF)
Tom Weidlinger Bio Joseph Bruchac Bio Director Statement

Jim Thorpe, The World’s Greatest Athlete is a biography of the Native American athlete who became a sports icon in the first half of the 20th century. Beginning with Thorpe’s boyhood in Indian Territory it chronicles his rise to athletic stardom at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, winning two gold medals at the 1912 Summer Olympics, his fall from grace in the eyes of the amateur athletic establishment, and his rebound in professional baseball and football.   Thorpe retired from pro sports at age 41 just before the stock market crash of  ’29.  He worked as a construction laborer before getting work in Hollywood as a bit part player.  He became a representative for Indian extras in Hollywood, fighting for equal pay for Native Americans in the movies. In the 1940s he crisscrossed the nation as a public speaker advocating for Indian self-determination. 

This is a film about a man who used his amazing physical prowess as a way to affirm his American Indian identity in the face of unrelenting efforts to eradicate Native American culture. Jim Thorpe, The World’s Greatest Athlete.  It is the first documentary film to tell the story of Thorpe’s life outside of his well-known athletic victories.The film uses in-depth interviews with Thorpe’s surviving children, some simple recreations and images culled from over seventy-five archive sources, both stills and motion picture. 

Presented by Native American Public Television, the film will air on U.S. public television stations in fall 2009 and winter 2010.

2011, Moira Productions