Weird History: Jimmy Stewart and the Abominable Snowman


yeti printJimmy Stewart was an incredibly talented actor, but very few know about the pivotal role he played in a true-life caper involving the Abominable Snowman, also known as the Yeti.

Texas oil heir and adventurer Tom Slick, Jr., was a man of many passions: fine art, scientific research…and cryptozoology. He used his considerable financial resources to fund numerous field expeditions in search of famous semi-mythical beasts: the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot and the Yeti.

During a late fifties expedition into the Himalayas, Slick heard that a Buddhist monastery in Pangboche held the remains of one of the creatures: a withered, skeletal hand. His curiosity piqued, Slick and his associates went to see the rumored appendage. They were allowed to snap a picture, but the monks refused to let the adventurers remove the hand for scientific study.

Undeterred, Slick and company visited the Pangboche monastery again during a return trip to the Himalayas. This time, though, they had a plan: One of the party members, Peter Byrne, was to steal a finger from the hand and replace it with a human finger bone. The switch was successful, but getting the Yeti finger to a lab was going to be a challenge. He was going to have to call in a favor from a friend. That friend was Jimmy Stewart.

Byrne transported the remains from Nepal to India, where according to cryptozoologist and author Loren Coleman, he gave them to Stewart. Stewart, in turn, smuggled them to London by hiding them in his wife’s lingerie bag.

After arriving in London safe and sound, the Yeti finger was examined by a primatologist who thought that it might be the remains of a neanderthal. Following this curious finding the finger bone disappeared, only to be rediscovered fifty-plus years later in the archives of the Royal College of Surgeons. Sadly, for Yeti fans at least, modern scientific testing revealed the finger to be that of a human being.

If you’re thinking that this would make a great movie, then you’re not the only one. In 1996, Nicholas Cage was reported to have been attached to a biographical film about Slick’s hunt for the Yeti. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it, though: The film, Tom Slick: Monster Hunter, has been in “development hell” since that initial announcement.

More about the Yeti
More about Tom Slick
More about The Himalayas
More about Jimmy Stewart
More about Nicholas Cage