The Aviatrix

By Andy Danyo

A few years ago, Bob & I went to Gore Vidal’s house in Los Angeles to interview him.  In his museum-like living room (I recollect he refered to it as the lounge or parlor), there was art and artifacts aplenty. But one that stood out was a large, framed photo of Amelia Earhart. Vidal explained that she had been the girlfriend of her father, Gene Vidal, an Olympic athlete and pilot in his own right. The young Vidal always hoped that Amelia would become his step-mom. It did not come to pass but Amelia - she was married at the time to G.P. Putnam — but she obviously had some very “progressive” ideas about marriage.

In 1931, on Earhart’s wedding day, she gave her groom a letter which read:  

You must know again my reluctance to marry, my feeling that I shatter thereby chances in work which means so much to me… . In our life together I shall not hold you to any medieval code of faithfulness to me, nor shall I consider myself bound to you similarly… . I may have to keep some place where I can go to be myself now and then, for I cannot guarantee to endure at all the confinements of even an attractive cage.

How romantic.

In the biopic out this month, Ewen McGregor plays Gene, the boyfriend and Richard Gere plays George, the husband. Not bad choices. You can see a preview of the film here.


Working on this interview, I was surprised to learn that in addition to scandalous letters, Earhart wrote poetry. In fact, Eleanor Roosevelt kept a copy of her poem, “Courage,” in her desk drawer.

“Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace.

The soul that knows is not, knows no release

From little things:

Knows not the livid lonliness of fear,

Nor mountain heights where bitter joy can hear

The sound of wings.” 

 — Amelia Earhart


I hope you enjoy today’s interview with Susan Wels.  You can find more information about her book, Amelia Earhart: The Thrill of It, here.