The Original Indiana Jones

Meet the original Indiana Jones, a small and weasel-faced Nazi archaeologist named Otto Rahn that served as inspiration for Spielberg's hero.

And just like the fictional Indiana Jones, Otto was on a quest to find the Holy Grail:

Very little is certain in the short life of Otto Rahn. But one of the few things one can with any confidence say about him is that he looked nothing like Harrison Ford. Yet Rahn, small and weasel-faced, with a hesitant, toothy smile and hair like a neatly contoured oil slick, undoubtedly served as inspiration for Ford's most famous role, Indiana Jones.

Like Jones, Rahn was an archaeologist, like him he fell foul of the Nazis and like him he was obsessed with finding the Holy Grail - the cup reputedly used to catch Christ's blood when he was crucified. But whereas Jones rode the Grail-train to box-office glory, Rahn's obsession ended up costing him his life.

However, Rahn is such a strange figure, and his story so bizarre, that simply seeing him as the unlikely progenitor of Indiana Jones is to do him a disservice. Here was a man who entered into a terrible Faustian pact: he was given every resource imaginable to realise his dream. There was just one catch: in return, he had to find something that - if it ever existed - had not been seen for almost 2,000 years.

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I doubt George Lukas knew anything about him. It seems more likely that he has drawn his inspiration for the character from the Allan-Quatermain-Books.
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There is a British movie about a brave archaeologist fighting the Nazis called "Pimpernel Smith".
Leslie Howard made the film with his own money made from his role in "Gone with the Wind".
This is a more likely inspiration - especially since they had to search for a new "MacGuffin" for each movie, and the Holy Grail didn't come around until the 3rd film.
Originally Spielberg wanted to do a Bond film. Lucas said "I've got a better idea" and pitched Indiana Smith (later Indiana Jones). Indiana was the name of Lucas' dog, who used to sit next to him in his car, providing the inspiration for Chewbacca.
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This is about the 10th person I've heard described as "THE" inspiration for Indiana Jones. Wikipedia lists five supposed "confirmed models" ( Otto Rahn is not in the list, nor are a handful of others that supposed real Indiana Joneses.
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Was there ever really an archeologist that fought Nazis, Russians, tribal folk, etc on his rounds finding artifacts or anywhere close to that? I'd be willing to accept Lucas came up with the idea on his own..especially since none of the movies are that complicated.
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Indiana Jones was not obsessed with finding the holy grail, his father was. He only began his quest for the holy grail to go find his father, and only completed it to save his father's life.
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Also... the holy grail is the cup that Christ used at the last supper - I've never heard anything about it catching His blood while he was on the cross. That doesn't even make sense.

Man the telegraph really needs to step up their journalism...
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There is a competing version, with another man, Col. Percy Fawcett, as the inspiration for Indiana Jones. I don't particularly buy into this version or the notion that Indiana Jones would be based off of a Nazi...

Here is the write up I did about it on my own site:
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Grail just means cup or bowl or vessel. Christ had a few 'grails' associated with him. One of them the 'holy chalice' used at the last supper and also a cup used to collect his blood while on the cross. Name a gazillion other cups/vessels/bowls used by him etc then that could be a grail also. Thus all the conflicting stories, conspiracy theories, confushtion etc

So which grail you talking about Willis?
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