Someone who we might call a real-life equivalent of Indiana Jones, Tom Slick was an explorer, an adventurer, and a seeker of strange creatures who traveled the world in hot pursuit of his passions. One of which was hairy, giant-sized, and monstrous. We’re talking about none other than the Abominable Snowmnan, which is also famously known as the Yeti. Born and bred in Texas in 1916 – specifically in the city of San Antonio – Slick was someone who had the extremely good fortune to have as a father Thomas Baker Slick, Sr. The latter was someone who made a multi-million-dollar fortune in the oil industry. His nicknames were Lucky Tom and the King of the Wildcatters.
Despite his vast wealth, Slick, Sr., couldn’t keep the clutches of the Grim Reaper at bay – he was dead before he even reached his fifties. As a result, Tom Slick suddenly found himself swimming in dollars. As in, a great deal of them. He was now able to pursue just about each and every dream he had – and that’s exactly what he chose to do. The matter of seeking out more than a few strange creatures was now firmly on Slick’s mind. It was potentially achievable too.
In the 1950s, Slick spent time in Guyana, searching for near-priceless diamonds, and chasing down violent and marauding boar in New Zealand. Monsters, however, were among his biggest passions. And, when Slick took note of the huge amount of publicity that the Yeti of the Himalayas was attracting in the 1950s, he just knew that he had to go looking for the creature himself. By 1956, he was already planning ambitious treks to Nepal. Those plans hardly impressed Tibetan officials. Chiefly because it was Slick’s plan to zoom around the Himalayas in a helicopter, doing his utmost to find the huge, hairy, creatures – and, with good measure, a team of dogs following on the ground. Slick was denied access to the region; at least, he was until 1957.
When, in March of that year, Slick finally got permission to check out Nepal’s Arun Valley, it was a case of all systems go. Almost certainly, Tibetan authorities had not seen anything like this before: Slick turned up with metal cages and traps, with which he hoped to trap a Yeti or several. Sadly, things came to a crashing halt for Slick when, during one of his investigations, he was badly injured in a bus accident. It was something which pretty much put an end to his future, planned excursions. Aside, that is, from funding them. It’s accurate to say that Tom Slick was the inspiration for “Tom Friend,” a Yeti-seeker played by Forrest Tucker, in Hammer Film Productions’ 1957 movie, The Abominable Snowman. In other words, Slick was someone who certainly left a mark.
There was another side to Tom Slick, too. It was a particularly secret and intriguing side. During the 1950s, when the U.S. Government – and the CIA, in particular – was deeply concerned that the Chinese military would roll into Tibet and assume control, Slick was quietly approached by CIA personnel. Essentially, they asked him to use his monster-hunting excursions as a cover for doing a bit of localized spying on what was afoot in the Tibet-China area. By all accounts, Slick proved to be the perfect 007, skilfully combining his Yeti hunts with a quest to secure the latest information on the plans of the Chinese Government.
Perhaps appropriately for someone who moved effortlessly within the world of spies, secret agents, and international espionage, Tom Slick had a mysterious end: on October 6, 1962, his Beechcraft aircraft exploded in mid-air, over Montana, as he flew to Canada for a few days of hunting.