Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hilary Swank stars as Amelia Earhart

I've been doing some research on Amelia Earhart lately, and just now came across the fact that a movie has been made of her, to be released in 2009, presumably. It's currently in post-production.

Hilary Swank stars as Amelia Earhart, and Ewen McGregor stars as Gene Vidal (a good friend of Amelia's and father of Gore Vidal). Richard Gere plays George Putnam, Amelia's husband, and Mia Wasikowska plays Elinor Smith.

Will be interesting to see how the movie unfolds. Amelia Earhart was 23 before she started flying, and never wanted to get married. George Putnam was divorced by his wife (who got remarried about a month later), and married Amelia. It was a marriage of convenience - Amelia sends a letter to him pointing out that she doesn't expect him to be exclusive to her, or she to him - he is just going to promotoe her flying career.

In their early years together they were apparently quite fond of each other, but according to Doris Rich, Amelia was sick of him by the start of her final round the world flight...he was selfish, bombastic, etc. etc.

Just because it was a marriage of convenience doesn't mean Putnam was a "beard." By all accounts Amelia was heterosexual, quite attractive in person, and vivacious around friends (pace those photos of her which make her look like a thin stick) she had many male friends, at least one, Gene Vidal, linked to her romantically after her marriage to Putnam.

How good of a flyer was Amelia? Doris Rich comments quite a few times that she wasn't very good at landings....and Elinor Smith, quoted years later, wasn't impressed with her either. However, she and Jackie Cochran were firm friends, and although Edna Gardner Whyte didn't think she should be racing pylons, the two of them were friends as well.

I'll cover Amelia's life in more detail in an article I'm writing for the Winged Victory: Women in Aviation website (

As far as the movie goes, this is actually the first I've heard of it - although it was apparently announced by Variety in 2008, and the IMDB entry already has a thriving message board about it. Looks very much like they're going to make it a triangle between Earhart, Putnam and Vidal...

In 1994 there was a TV movie about Amelia starring Diane Keaton, with Rutger Hauer as Fred Noonan and Bruce Dern as Putnam. It was based on Doris Rich's book. It's out on VHS, but not DVD.

However, there's a few documentaries...

As for books, although Doris Rich's book was the first Earhart biography, I have some issues with it, which I'll cover in my article, however you can get it here:

A more recent biography, which goes into much more detail about Amelia's forbears, is

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