Six degrees

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 March, 2011, 12:00am
 

Millionaire Jim Thompson (above) vanished from Malaysia's Cameron Highlands 44 years ago this week. The former spy lifted thousands of Thailand's poor from poverty when he revived the country's silk industry. Despite many theories about his disappearance - among them that he provided the main course at a cannibal feast and that a tribal princess had imprisoned him as a love slave - none has satisfactorily solved the mystery. In a desperate bid to find him, his family flew in celebrity psychic Peter Hurkos ...

Hurkos' kinetic career began when he fell off a ladder aged 30, suffering severe brain damage in the process. Upon waking from a coma, he set about mentally transcending time and space. He also claimed to have located the Stone of Scone, stolen from Westminster Abbey, in Britain, and to have alerted police to Charles Manson, although he failed to convince authorities of these 'facts'. Hurkos was convicted of impersonating a police officer while investigating the case of the Boston Strangler ...

Albert DeSalvo did not have the best start in life. The son of a violent alcoholic, he was forced to witness his father beating all of his mother's teeth out and breaking each of her fingers. As a boy he was sold into slavery to a Maine farmer but he escaped and returned home, where his father passed on his basic skill set. DeSalvo was never charged with the crimes and many investigators did not believe he was the Strangler. Facts, however, did little to erode his reputation and he was immortalised in film by Tony Curtis ...

Curtis had no expectations of becoming a Hollywood heartthrob. At acting school, he was 'the least likely to succeed. I wasn't low man on the totem pole, I was under the totem pole, in a sewer, tied to a sack'. A charismatic and kind actor, he briefly covered for William Holden, who was being treated for alcoholism, on the set of a film starring Audrey Hepburn as The Girl Who Stole The Eiffel Tower ...

More than 200 million people have visited the Parisian landmark since its inception. Erected as the entrance arch to the 1889 World's Fair, the tower was only intended to stay up for 20 years. The authorities made a great display of the new structure and even went so far as to having it officially opened by British royalty, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales...

The immensely popular Edward was despised by his mother, Queen Victoria, who wrote of him to her eldest daughter, 'I never can, or shall, look at him without a shudder.' The Edwardian period might never have happened had his surgeon not performed what was, at the time, an extremely risky appendectomy. His delayed coronation was attended by the world's most dignified dignitaries, but not the president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, who sent in his stead Major General James Wilson, civil war hero and grandfather to Thai silk king Jim Thompson.

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