A talented golfer-sharp, five weddings and five deaths (8 photos)

Category: Nostalgia, PEGI 0+
13 June 2024

A talented person is talented in everything. The phrase is hackneyed, but perfectly characterizes the personality of this controversial hero.

Sports stars often have colorful personalities. One type of it involves maintaining a relatively correct reputation. We're talking about golf.

But even in this quietest sport there were stars no less bright than in others, and in one case, perhaps even more so.

This is the story of one man who could have become a professional, but chose a life of gambling and cheating, which made him rich. Who was Titanic Thompson?

Alvin Clarence Thomas

Alvin Clarence Thomas

The future player and golfer was born on November 30, 1893 in Monett, Missouri, and his name was Alvin. A few days after his birth, Alvin's father abandoned the baby and his mother.

Alvin's mother remarried a farmer in Arkansas, but the boy hated farm work and did not like school, although he was quite smart. Alvin enjoyed hunting since childhood and was an excellent marksman.

When Alvin turned 16, he moved out of home and took a job as a salesman in Missouri. Then he became a character actor in a traveling show. In this show, Alvin played a character who performed shooting tricks.

His special trick was throwing a dollar bill into the air and shooting through it as it flew back to the ground.

Despite the fact that the work brought good money, Alvin played cards with local residents at night and realized that he could make a lot of money by rigging the results in his favor. Alvin made a mark on the back of the card that no one noticed, and he managed to hit the jackpot.

First murder

In 1910, Alvin was playing craps with a man named Joe Greene, who had run out of money and put the bill of sale on his yacht on the table. Alvin won, but as a gesture of “kindness” he allowed Joe to work on his now yacht.

On his first trip, Alvin invited a friend named Jim Johnson with him. Alvin and Jim were playing dice, Jim accused Alvin of cheating, and a fight broke out between them.

Alvin hit Jim in the head with a hammer, knocking him unconscious and the pair plummeted into the water. Alvin was fine, but because he was unconscious, Jim drowned. Alvin escaped punishment by making a deal with the local sheriff, exchanging the deed for a boat for freedom.

Alvin became Titanic Thompson two years later in 1912. One evening after gambling and winning at a local bar, someone bet Alvin that he couldn't jump over the pool table without hitting it. Always ready to argue and promise a win, Alvin took a running jump over the pool table.

When someone at the bar asked the bartender who Alvin was, he replied: “I don’t know exactly, but it must be the Titanic: he sinks everyone.” The news of the sinking of the Titanic was on the front page of every newspaper.

The name stuck, and Alvin went by Ty and continued to cheat in high-stakes card games or dice games. He also married 17-year-old Nora for the first time.

Nora left after a year. Shortly after the divorce, Titanic Thompson met his second wife Alice (also 17 years old) when the girl tried to pick his pocket on the streets of Philadelphia. The couple became friends and became part of the city's crime scene. Alice allowed Titanic Thompson to travel around the country, deceiving gamblers.

Thompson once got involved in a card game in St. Louis and managed to win $40,000. Unbeknownst to Titanic, the croupier had hired two men to rob the winner when he tried to leave.

Thompson pulled out an unregistered Luger he was holding in a shoulder holster and fired at the robbers, killing them both instantly. When the police arrived, Titanic told them the men were trying to rob him and it was self-defense.

Once again, the swindler escaped punishment for murder. The cops assessed Ty because both men were wanted criminals and did not pay attention to the unregistered weapon. Instead, they happily waved the player goodbye as he left town.

This was not the only time Titanic Thompson killed someone who was trying to rob him: the same situation happened during another game, and Ty killed one of the robbers. Once again, the police released the Titanic: he was a wanted criminal, and the Titanic had done the police a favor.

Alice and Titanic lived in Philadelphia, gambled, and Ty traveled to other games in other states at will. At one of these, he was introduced to a sport in which he became simply a diamond.


It all started when Titanic Thompson asked a man if he could try hitting a ball on the golf course. When his shot exceeded 275 meters, he began to show off his skills around the city. Locals bet that the Titanic would not be able to do what it promised.

Titanic took the bet and hit the ball, but this time it only traveled 250 meters, which meant he lost. Despite the loss, Titanic Thompson decided to learn to play golf. Why not learn another way to place bets?

Titanic was good enough to play professionally, but he never played. At the time, professional golfers earned $30,000 a year, and Titanic could play one game of poker and walk away with more than $30,000 in one evening.

He bet against other golfers and, using his talent and ingenuity, always won. He once bet with people for a whole year that he could make a putt 450 meters. And people accepted his seemingly unusual bets. Thompson made the bet in the middle of winter when Lake Michigan froze over. He kicked the ball into the lake, where it flew about 180 meters and then rolled across the ice for almost 800 meters. The sly guy hit another jackpot.

Gangsters and gambling

Arnold Rothstein

After moving to New York, Thompson met Arnold Rothstein, a crime boss

In the game Ty rigged, Rothstein ended up losing half a million dollars. Rothstein distributed promissory notes to everyone, according to which the person who organized the rigged game had to ensure payment of the debt.

When the organizer of the game came for the money, Rothstein asked him to wait a few days because he had bet half a million on who would be elected president. It ended sadly: Rothstein guessed wrong and was subsequently injured during an argument and later died in hospital.

Alice at some point moved to Philadelphia, but in a tragic accident she was hit by a car and died. The Titanic continued to bet on its golf games, which is how it killed its fifth and final victim.

One day, after winning a lot of money at golf, Titanic saw a masked man robbing his car and shot him. Again, this was considered self-defense. But the fact that a 40-year-old man was traveling around the country with young girls was a crime. To avoid going to prison, Titanic Thompson married his 15-year-old girlfriend, Jo Ann Raney.

5 murders and 5 wives

Titanic Thompson: the man who bet on everything

In 1944, Jo Ann became pregnant. Like his own father, Titanic didn't want to be a parent. The couple made an agreement that they would divorce amicably and without outside help if Ty gave Jo Ann several oil wells he owned. Once the divorce was finalized, Ty married a 16-year-old girl named Maxine, and when she became pregnant, they divorced after five years of marriage.

After being caught in bed with a minor, Ty quickly remarried to a friend's 18-year-old daughter, Jeannette. He was 62 years old at the time and was serving a two-year prison sentence. Once again, when Jeannette became pregnant, Ty left. But he returned to her and his son three years after the birth of the child and lived with them until he was transferred to a nursing home at the age of 80. Thompson died of a stroke in May 1974.

Add your comment
  • bowtiesmilelaughingblushsmileyrelaxedsmirk

You might be interested in: