A rogue’s gallery – Peter Francisco, Porfirio Rubirosa Ariza,Titanic Thompson


A report by Bob Taylor for Communities Digital News.

Did you ever read or hear about someone so fascinating that you wondered why they never made a movie about that individual? Today our trivia session looks at three men who were living personifications of Indiana Jones.

Today our trivia session looks at three men who were living personifications of Indiana Jones.

1 — Peter Francisco: We’ve all seen the beer commercials about “the most interesting man in the world.” Could it be that they are patterned after the exploits of real-life Revolutionary War hero Pedro Francisco?

Born in 1760, Francisco was discovered abandoned at the age of five on the docks at City Point Virginia. He was taken to the Prince George County Poorhouse, where he kept repeating the name “Pedro Francisco” though he was unable to speak English.

When he was old enough to work, Pedro, or Peter as he was now known, began to apprentice as a blacksmith because of his massive size. At six feet eight in height and weighing 260 pounds, Francisco became known as the “Virginian Hercules” or the “Virginia Giant.”

By the age of 16, Francisco joined the American Revolution with the 10th Virginia Regiment. Throughout the war, Francisco distinguished himself in battle after battle.

As part of General “Mad” Anthony Wayne’s attack on Stony Point, a British stronghold on the Hudson River, Francisco received a nine-inch gash to his stomach but still continued to fight. His perseverance paid off as he was the second person to enter the fort despite his injury.

In the process, he killed three British grenadiers and captured the enemy flag.

By now, Francisco had developed a legendary reputation which went with him to the Battle of Cowpens in South Carolina. According to accounts of the day, when Francisco noticed his fellow soldiers were leaving behind a valuable cannon that was mired in mud, he picked it up, though it which weighed over 1,000 pounds and carried it on his shoulder to prevent the enemy from taking it.

Later accounts of his Revolutionary exploits placed Francisco at Yorktown in 1781 where he witnessed the British surrender though he did not participate in combat.

During his military career, Peter Francisco took part in numerous well-known battles and, during his lifetime, he was also among those who suffered at Valley Forge and eventually became a close personal friend of Lafayette.

2 — Porfirio Rubirosa Ariza: If Peter Francisco was to George Washington what Porfirio Rubirosa Ariza was to Hugh Hefner you have a solid idea of the lifestyle of this international playboy.

As the third and youngest child of an upper-middle-class family, not only did Ariza mingle with the global jet-set, he also dabbled in other luxurious pastimes as polo, race car driver, soldier, and spy.

After growing up in Paris, Ariza returned to his native Dominican Republic when he was 17. In 1931 he met Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo at a country club and by lunchtime the following day Arisa was a lieutenant of Trujillo’s Presidential Guard. Within five years, Ariza was a full-blown Dominican diplomat.

The position more than suited the young man’s exotic lifestyle sending him to embassies at Vichy, Buenos Aries, Rome, Brussels, Havana (where he witnessed the Cuban Revolution) and Berlin in 1936 where he was a guest of Adolf Hitler in his personal box during the Olympics.

Impressive as his political career may have been, Arias was also romantically linked to some of the richest and most influential women of the day; Delores de Rio, Eartha Kitt, Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Joan Crawford, Veronica Lake, Kim Novak, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Judy Garland and Eva Peron.

In addition, Ariza was married five times including American heiresses Doris Duke and Barbara Hutton, though he had no children with any of them.

Ariza perpetuated his image with handmade shoes and Parisian suits, and he was even hired to give Sammy Davis Jr. lessons in how to properly kiss a woman’s hand.

As an adventurer, Ariza piloted a B-25 bomber given to him by Doris Duke. Later in life he also developed a passion for racing exotic sports cars, driving Ferraris at LeMans.

Within months after Trujillo was assassinated in May of 1961, Ariza was removed from his assignment as “Inspector of Embassies” and lost his diplomatic immunity. He was later interrogated by the New York District Attorney regarding the disappearance of a pair of Trujillo’s enemies but was never charged.

The flamboyant playboy died as he had lived in a car crash in 1965 following an all night celebration honoring the winning of the polo Coupe de France.

3 — Alvin “Titanic” Thompson: Everybody loves a good movie about con men such as “The Sting,” “The Grifters” and “A Big Hand for a Little Lady” so it seems only natural for Titanic Thompson to make our list.

Thompson held his own playing pool against Minnesota Fats, golf against Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson and poker against Amarillo Slim.

In addition, Thompson had dozens of “sucker bets” at his disposal such as playing golf right-handed and then doubling the stakes by playing left-handed when, of course, left-handed was his natural game.

If nothing else, Thompson was brassy to the nth degree, getting married on five occasions and reportedly killing five men for which he claimed self-defense and was acquitted each time.

Connected to Arnold Rothstein, the man who rigged the 1919 World Series, Thompson became the persona for gambler Sky Masterson in Damon Runyon’s “Guys and Dolls.”

Following his death due to stroke, a fellow golf partner is quoted as saying, “He might be dead, but I wouldn’t bet on it.”

And so we offer Kudos to three real-life members of the “Indiana Jones Fan Club.” Characters who definitely need to be immortalized in film.

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