Cue Lowell Thomas
It may be difficult to imagine now,
with so many talking heads
clamoring for our attention, but
once the voice of Lowell Thomas
was the single most famous in the
world. He was the country’s
second news commentator. His
radio and television career lasted
28 years including his long service
as the voice of Fox Movietone
A constant traveler with an
insatiable curiosity to see new
places and people, he was raised
in the gold fields of Colorado
where his father was a surgeon.
The endless parade of
prospectors, saloons and
cathouses sowed the seeds of his
love of the colorful. He would
become famous for his egalitarian
courtesy, and counted among his
friends everyone from the Dalai
Lama to the doorman of his
Manhattan apartment building.
One of his most important
friendships was with T. E.
Lawrence, the Englishman who
fought so hard for Arab
independence during WWI.
Thomas discovered him by chance
while on a trip to Egypt and
recognized instantly a great story.
He single-handedly built Lawrence
into one of the 20 th century’s great
icons with his book and lecture
series. Without Lowell Thomas,
Lawrence of Arabia would have
been but a footnote in history.
Lowell Thomas knew both Hazard
Reeves and Fred Waller and had
produced a Broadway show with
Mike Todd. There are various
versions of which got the other to
join Cinerama. Upon seeing the
Cinerama demo for the first time,
Thomas knew that this could
provide him a success even bigger
than Lawrence had been.
Todd, dissatisfied with the 16mm
he’d used at a recent show at
Madison Square Garden, called it
“the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.
We must get control of it,” and
came onboard as producer.
When the Lowell Thomas prestige
attracted new financing, Mike
Todd had his son reshoot the
roller coaster in color, then took
off for Europe with a small crew.
Todd had charmed the IA into
granting “experimental” status to
the project, freeing it from all
cinema technology - december 2002 page 33