Jim Thompson is probably the most famous American to ever live in Thailand. He was a silk baron famous for bringing international attention to the silk trade in Thailand. He was born in Delaware in 1906 and was an architect before World War II. But then he volunteered for the US Army and served in Europe during the war. The Army then sent him to Bangkok after the war, and he fell in love with the country. He would later return and establish himself in a remarkable home in the center of the city.
He combined six teak buildings of traditional Thai construction into one cohesive home and filled it with images of Buddha and other Thai art of immense worth. He was careful to maintain traditional Thai practices and spiritual beliefs throughout the construction of the home, even moving into the property on a day in 1959 that was considered auspicious by astrologers. The home is open for tours today, and the variety of art and textiles on display is impressive.
Upon moving to Thailand, Thompson made hand-woven silk famous throughout the world. He turned the cottage industry into a major industry and gained renown himself as a designer and business man. He was incredibly influential both in Thailand and in America.
Also interesting about Jim Thompson is that he simply disappeared one day in 1967. He was on a holiday in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia and vanished without any clue as to his whereabouts, even today.
Title quote: Time magazine’s claim about Jim Thompson