“As Lowell Thomas described in breath taking detail the life of Thomas Lawrence ‘the Uncrowned King Of Arabia’ who led armies of King Hussein, he seemed a latter day troubadour telling wonderfully a most wonderful tale. Hence London’s gratitude to this American Aladdin who commands his slaves of the lamp to bring distant lands of Romance and mystery and place them at our feet…”
—Alan Bott, The World Today
American journalist Lowell Thomas launched the “Lawrence of Arabia” legend in 1919 when he personally presented the multimedia show called “With Allenby in Palestine and Lawrence in Arabia” to millions of people in New York and London, and propelled himself into a journalistic career of fame and fortune.
The Show made use of images and film from Thomas’ extensive shooting in the Middle East, where he followed T.E. Lawrence and Arab forces during World War I. The Show was ahead of its time; Thomas innovated by synchronizing his words, spoken from a podium in the theater, with the exotic photos and movie clips from a distant land.
Thomas’ show would garner so much attention as to forever change the lives of its creator and the hero it portrayed, “Lawrence of Arabia.” It would also become the source of controversy around Lawrence’s participation in its making.
“When I opened in London I used the sixty piece Welsh Guards Band in their scarlet uniforms, On stage, the Moonlight On the Nile scene, as the curtain opened on the Nile set, the moon faintly illuminating distant pyramids, our dancer glided onstage for a two minute Dance of the Seven Veils accompanied by an Irish tenor in the wings, singing the Mohammedan Call To Prayer which Fran (Mrs. Thomas) had put to music. At the end of this I emerged in a spotlight and without even saying Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen, I started my show with the words: ‘Come with me to the lands of mystery, history and romance.’ The first prologue ever used in connection with films. This again was one of my wild ideas. Then the pictures began to roll.”