Indiana Smith? The True Story Behind Indiana Jones' Real Name

Indiana Smith? The True Story Behind Indiana Jones' Real Name
Image credit: Legion-Media

How Indy dodged his first bullet.

The final scene of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is iconic – and not just because it includes the legendary theme tune composed by the now 91-year-old John Williams. It was also the scene in which we discovered that Indy (much to the delight of Sallah) was named after the dog.

Of course, Indiana wasn't his real name. As we know from how his father (played by the late, great Sean Connery) addressed him, the archaeologist and adventurer was called Henry Jones Jr. But as he said in that final scene – he likes Indiana.

What you may not know, though, is the character was genuinely named after a dog. Although the origin of the name wasn't revealed until the end of the third movie in 1989, Indiana Jones first appeared on screen in 1981 as the hero of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

But it was in 1978 that the character's name was discussed between George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Larry Kasdan. Transcripts of the conversation show that Lucas wanted his protagonist to be a mix of James Bond and Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name.

The Indiana part of the name came from Lucas' dog – an Alaska Malamute called Indiana. We can only surmise, therefore, that just like the Harrison Ford-played character, the filmmaker has 'lots of fond memories of that dog'.

The name Indiana Jones is now synonymous with the all-action titular hero of the franchise that is soon to stretch to five films and a TV series. And there are few who would suggest that Indiana is not the perfect name for the character. Lucas is quoted in the transcripts as saying the name had to be 'unique' and 'Americana square'.

And that's the part that counts, right? I mean, surely you could put any surname after Indiana and still have a bona fide hero?

Not quite. Because the transcripts also show that the original surname for Indiana was Smith. It certainly fits the profile of a classic American name. But does Indiana Smith scream hero in the same way as Indiana Jones?

Fortunately for the world, shortly after suggesting the name Smith, Lucas answered Kasdan's question, 'What does she call him, Indy?' with, 'That's what I was thinking. Or Jones.'

I imagine the sense of relief was palpable as Spielberg and Kasdan let the name Indiana Jones wash away any trace of this rugged, Bondesque character being called Indiana Smith.

The rest, as they say, is history. Three years after that conversation took place, one of the most iconic movie openings in history introduced us to a legendary character with the perfect name.

Source: Mad Dog Movies.