A commonly told anecdote among my colleaugues is that adventurer Roy Chapman Andrews was the inspiration for Indiana Jones. However, George Lucas never specifically cited a person as his inspiration for the character. He apparently told Steven Spielberg when they first discussed the movie trilogy in 1977 that he had been inspired by movie serials from the 1940s and the 1950s. Though these serials may have taken their inspiration from the real-life adventures of Andrews, he had retired by 1942. Other possible candidates for Indiana Jones include:
*Professor Hiram Bingham III, an American academic, explorer and politician who rediscovered and excavated the lost Incan city of Machu Picchu in 1911.
*Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett a British archaeologist who disappeared in 1925 while searching for a lost city the Mato Grosso region of the Amazon jungle.
But perhaps the most interesting of ‘inspirations’ is religious archaeologist, Vendyl "Texas" Jones, who claims the fictional character was modeled after himself. He pointed out that by trimming his first name he could be ‘Endy Jones’ and claims his name made it into the movie by way of Randolph Fillmore, a science writer who attended one of his digs before writing the first draft of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
While Lucas and Spielberg remain generally tight lipped about their inspiration, Spielberg has adamantly denied that Vendyl Jones had any influence over the Indiana Jones character. Lucas says that Indiana is the name of his Alaskan Malamute and that originally he had planned on using the name Indiana Smith (after the fictional western movie character, Nevada Smith) but that Steven Spielberg changed it to Indiana Jones. Also, Randolph Fillmore was not involved in writing the first draft of the movie and, fortunately, Vendyl Jones has now stopped making his claim.