Gordon Thorpe

Gordon Thorpe

Birthday: 11 August 1922, Lakin, Kansas, USA
Gordon Thorpe was born in Lakin, Kansas where he was raised until age five. His father, Harold Thorpe, independently wealthy, with a reputation for owning the largest cars available, then divorced Gordon's mother, Lois, and he later moved to Reno, Nevada, where he worked as an expert card dealer until retirement. Gordon, with his mother, moved... Show more »
Gordon Thorpe was born in Lakin, Kansas where he was raised until age five. His father, Harold Thorpe, independently wealthy, with a reputation for owning the largest cars available, then divorced Gordon's mother, Lois, and he later moved to Reno, Nevada, where he worked as an expert card dealer until retirement. Gordon, with his mother, moved to Los Angeles, to stay at the family mansion there on W.3rd Street. Noteworthy, Gordon's family, including Gordon, of course, were well connected and listed in all the social registers of the day, including "The Blue Book". Lois used these social connections to get Gordon special attention for a screen test, at which his talent was immediately discovered and he quickly rose to become one of the top child stars of the silent era. He was one of the chosen few able to maintain the same status into "The Talkies"throughout the 1930's. Gordon starred in features with many of the great actors of the day, Including Douglas Fairbanks, Errol Flynn, Basil Rathbone, Jackie Cooper, among others. Yet all was not rosy for young Gordon. Though famous for his beautiful head of long curly hair, this became a curse as Gordon had to quite often defend his young masculinity against the short manes of the day, and developed a strong reputation as a fighter. Unfortunately, his frequent fights, though nearly all defensive, still got him into hot water with the studios and Lois, now an overbearing stage mother. This was a source of great distress for Gordon, and often kept him from pursuing or winning even more important roles. At age 16, in the famous movie "Dawn Patrol", he portrayed a young, brave fighter-pilot. This was pivotal for Gordon, as he was finally seen no longer as a "cute child", but rather as a fine strong young man. It was as much the acceptance in his role here as the character itself that motivated Gordon to leave films, go back to Kansas, go to college, only to later join the Army Air Corps upon the outbreak of the Second World War. He did enlist for fighter pilot duty, and was commissioned as a bombardier. He flew 47 wartime bombing missions in Europe, serving heroically, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross and three Purple Hearts. Shot down and wounded three times, figuring the odds were likely for not surviving a fourth crash-landing, he politely requested a transfer. As reward for his heroic and loyal duty, he was promptly transferred to the OSS, where he was flown over Yugoslavia, and THROWN out of the plane. With a parachute,and an instruction manual on how to use it, he managed to safely land behind enemy lines. Captain Gordon Thorpe became principal in the formation of the Yugoslavian partisan resistance He used his charisma, his international reputation as a movie actor, and his bravery under fire, to motivate and help win back Yugoslavia at the end of the war. Though not the duty he expected, Gordon turned these events into his finest hour. Following the war, he married Jeanne Selby, a screen cartoonist for Universal Studios. He tried his hand at business being immediately recruited by IBM. Prior to his divorce in 1952, brought about by his recall to active service at the outset of the Korean War, he had one son, Anthony C. Thorpe. As a side note, Anthony did also inherit Gordon's great hair and good looks, but, seeing the perils his father encountered, he was discouraged from ever seeking a role in front of the camera. Anthony does however work in the industry even today, as Property Master and in other crew positions, having done so for over 30 years and with 100's of hours of Film and TV. Gordon served again in the Korean War as an infantry commander. It seems that as the Army Air Corp was dissolved,his commission was reverted to the regular Army. Again, Gordon seemed to inherit the duties he least desired. He once remarked to his son, "I'd gladly fight the Second World War three times again if it meant I didn't have to go to Korea once!" He served bravely again, at the front lines until the end of the war, was wounded, suffered from a grenade blast, and was never the same person again. In the years following he lived a colorful though not prosperous existence. He lived in various locales throughout the western United States until he settled down, remarried and managed his own coffeehouse in Sacramento,Ca. from the 1970's until his passing in 1989. He is survived by his son, Anthony C. Thorpe, and one grandson, Morgan Cantrell Thorpe. Show less «