A quote from Marilyn Monroe about wanting to become an actress

“When I was five I think, that’s when I started wanting to be an actress. I loved to play. I didn’t like the world around me because it was kind of grim, but I loved to play house. It was like you could make your own boundaries… When I heard that this was acting, I said that’s what I want to be.”

– Marilyn Monroe

Black and white photograph of Marilyn Monroe. She is wearing a glamorous strapless satin gown with a cinched waist and a fluffy white fur stole draped over her shoulders. Her iconic platinum blonde hair is styled in soft waves, and she has a bright, charismatic smile.
Marilyn Monroe

Notes:

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A quote from Marilyn Monroe about wanting to become an actress sources: photo of Marilyn Monroe was taken in 1954 – “Marilyn Monroe at Ciro’s.”  Wikimedia Commons, Wikimedia Foundation, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marilyn_Monroe_at_Ciro%27s.jpg

Amelia Earhart learns to fly

“By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground, I knew I had to fly,” said Amelia Earhart of her first flying experience.

Black and white photograph of Amelia Earhart, circa 1932, seated with a slight, confident smile. She is dressed in a buttoned-up shirt, a tie, and a leather flight jacket. Her short, wavy hair frames her face, highlighting her determined expression. She rests her arms on a wooden table, exuding a sense of poised readiness and adventure.
Amelia Earhart, circa 1932

While Amelia fell in love with flying at that first ride, flying had been an interest of hers since her late teenage years. Shortly after high school, amidst the tumult of World War I, Amelia began working at a Canadian military hospital. Among the wounded but spirited aviators, it was there that her fascination with aviation took flight.

Soon, however, Amelia was a college student at Columbia, intending to go to medical school. Despite doing well in her classes, she spent a lot of her time adventuring. “I was familiar with all the forbidden underground passageways which connected the different buildings of the University. I think I explored every nook and cranny possible. I have sat in the lap of the gilded statue which decorates the library steps, and I was probably the most frequent visitor on the top of the library dome. I mean the top,” she said.

She didn’t stay long at Columbia. Shortly after, she dropped out to join her parents, who had moved to California.

Later that year came the day when Amelia got her first taste of flying. At an airfield in Long Beach, with her father providing the $10 fee (about $127 today), Amelia climbed into the airplane for a ten-minute flight that would change her life.

She was now determined to become a pilot. She transformed herself for the sky — chopping her locks short, acquiring a leather jacket and breaking it in over three sleepless nights, then journeying miles, first by bus, then by foot, all to reach the grounds of the flight school.

The flight school was run by Anita “Neta” Snook, a pioneer female aviator who was the first woman to run her own aviation business. When Amelia arrived for her first flying lesson, she had just one question for Neta, “I want to fly. Will you teach me?”

Neta took Amelia on as a student. “I’ll never forget the day she and her father came to the field. I liked her on sight,” Neta would later say of her first time meeting Amelia.

With her family’s help, Amelia purchased her first plane six months after that first lesson. And within a couple of years, she set the world altitude record for women at 14,000 feet.

“Amelia Earhart learns to fly” sources:

Notes:

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For another snapshot biography of an aviator, please click here to read the story of Bessie Coleman.

To cite: “Amelia Earhart learns to fly.” Published by Historical Snapshots, https://historicalsnaps.com/2018/02/21/amelia-earhart-learns-to-fly/

Annette Kellerman, the first woman to wear a one-piece swimsuit

“I have been asked ten thousand times why I like to swim and I have given a different answer every time. You see the water always teaches me a new story. It is three times as large as the land and too big to be disturbed. Therefore it has not been crossed out by man and goes on and on, the most elemental thing in all the world. And why do I believe in swimming? To put it briefly, swimming is a pleasure and a benefit, a clean, cool, beautiful cheap thing we all from cats to kings can enjoy.” – Annette Kellerman

Annette Kellerman
Annette Kellerman

Biography of Annette Kellerman

Annette Kellerman was just six years old when she developed weakness in her legs. The cause of her ailment wasn’t clear, but treatment required wearing steel braces, which were not only painful, but left her feeling humiliated. To further help recovery, her parents enrolled Annette in swim classes upon the advice of a doctor. While Annette didn’t want to swim, fearing in part embarrassment of her legs, the doctor felt confident that swimming would help, and so her father proceeded with the plan. Annette would look back on her father’s decision with gratitude, appreciating his wisdom.

With time her legs recovered, and as a teen she became a champion swimmer, a record holder in the 100 yard swim in her native Australia, and world record holder in the mile.

She then took on long-distance swimming, swimming over 13 miles of the Thames river in under 4 hours. And she made three attempts to swim the English channel, never completing the entire journey, but once staying in the water for more than 10 hours.

But more than just swimming, she became famous for advocating for women’s rights.

“I can’t swim wearing more stuff than you hang on a clothesline,” she once said about swimming.

Annette Kellerman in full length swimsuit
Annette Kellerman in full length swimsuit

In a time when women were expected to wear dress and pantaloons to swim, she wore a one-piece suit. Such behavior led to her arrest on Revere Beach in Massachusetts in 1907 for indecency. But doing so also helped change the social norms. Her one-piece suit, known as the Annette Kellerman, became a popular swimsuit for women.

Sources:

How to Swim by Annette Kellerman, Published by University of Michigan Library, 1918 / Photograph of Annette – Bain News Service, Publisher. Miss Annette Kellerman. 3/13/19 date created or published later by Bain. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2014683563/> / Swimming – Annette Kellerman. [No Date Recorded on Caption Card] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2002709748/>.

Note:

Please click here to read another story of an athlete, Emma Sharp.

Elizabeth Taylor quote about first marriage

A portrait of Elizabeth Taylor with short, wavy dark hair, featuring intense eyes, and bold red lipstick. She is wearing a luxurious red dress with delicate embroidery and a plush white fur stole draped over her shoulders. The background is plain, emphasizing her elegant and glamorous appearance.
Elizabeth Taylor, circa 1955

Elizabeth Taylor Quote:

“I left home as soon as I could, when I was 18. I thought I was in love and got married—the press called it Prince Charming and Cinderella. He was a Hilton so I was the poor little Cinderella. And when I got a divorce nine months later I never told the court why, but he was cruel. When he drank it all came out, and I hadn’t seen that before because he was on the wagon the eight months we were engaged. I didn’t have a clue. But I thought, This isn’t why God put me on Earth. We were married in a Catholic church. I had studied Catholicism for almost a year. But when I had to swear in front of the archbishop to be a good wife and all that stuff, I had my fingers crossed behind my back because I didn’t know if I could be a good wife; I knew I was still a child.”

Elizabeth Taylor quote about first marriage source:

Notes:

Click here to read a quote from actress Greta Garbo about he early life.

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The love of Oscar Wilde and Bosie

In 1891, Oscar Wilde fell in love with 21-year-old Oxford undergraduate Lord Alfred Douglas, or as friends affectionately called him, “Bosie.” Their love blossomed. Wilde wrote Bosie in one letter, “You are so dear, so wonderful. I think of you all day long, and miss your grace, your boyish beauty, the bright sword-play of your wit, the delicate fancy of your genius, so surprising always in its sudden swallow-flights towards north and south, towards sun and moon — and, above all, yourself.”

But when Bosie’s father learned of the relationship, he accused Oscar of sodomy. Oscar countered with a suit of libel. The lawsuit revealed gay relations in Oscar’s personal life, leading to a criminal case against him. 

In May of 1895, Oscar received a prison sentence of two years. His crime was gross indecency. His punishment, while severe, was less than what the judge wanted. “It is the worst case I have ever tried. In my judgement it is totally inadequate for such a case as this. The sentence of the Court is that you be imprisoned and kept to hard labor for two years,” said the judge.

Upon his release, when others recommended he forget his time and the reasons for his imprisonment, Oscar wrote that “To regret one’s own experiences is to arrest one’s own development. To deny one’s own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one’s own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.”

Black and white portrait of Oscar Wilde, sitting with one hand to his cheek and holding a cane. Wilde is dressed in a Victorian-era suit with a velvet collar and a bow tie. His long hair is parted in the middle and falls over his shoulders. The photograph has a warm sepia tone and includes the photographer's studio mark at the bottom.
Oscar Wilde, circa 1882

“The love of Oscar Wilde and Bosie” notes and sources:

The legend that was Mary Fields

She drank whiskey, swore often, and smoked handmade cigars. She wore pants under her skirt and a gun under her apron. At six feet tall and two hundred pounds, Mary Fields was an intimidating woman.

Mary lived in Montana, in a town called Cascade. She was a special member of the community there. All schools would close on her birthday, and though women were not allowed entry into saloons, she was given special permission by the mayor to come in anytime and to any saloon she liked.

Historical sepia-toned photograph of Mary Fields, an African American woman standing confidently with one hand resting on her hip and the other holding a rifle. She is dressed in a long-sleeved, full-length dress with a belted waist. Behind her is a backdrop with ornate patterns, suggesting an indoor setting.
Mary Fields

But Mary wasn’t from Montana. She was born into enslavement in Tennessee sometime in the early 1830s, and lived enslaved for more than thirty years until slavery was abolished. As a free woman, life led her first to Florida to work for a family and then Ohio when part of the family moved.

When Mary was 52, her close friend who lived in Montana became ill with pneumonia. Upon hearing the news, Mary dropped everything and came to nurse her friend back to health. Her friend soon recovered and Mary decided to stay in Montana settling in Cascade.

Her beginning in Cascade wasn’t smooth. To make ends meet, she first tried her hand at the restaurant business. She opened a restaurant, but she wasn’t much of a chef. And she was also too generous, never refusing to serve a customer who couldn’t pay. So the restaurant failed within a year.

But then in 1895, when in her sixties, Mary, or as “Stagecoach Mary” as she was sometimes called because she never missed a day of work, became the second woman and first African American to work as a mail carrier in the U.S. She got the job because she was the fastest applicant to hitch six horses.

Eventually she retired to a life of running a laundry business. And babysitting all the kids in town. And going to baseball games. And being friends with much of the townsfolk.

This was Mary Fields. A rebel, a legend.

Notes

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Click here to read a snapshot biography of another legend, Jim Thorpe.

“The legend that was Mary Fields” sources

Photograph of Mary taken circa 1895 – “Mary Fields.” Wikimedia Commons, Wikimedia Foundation, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mary_Fields.jpg

To cite

“The legend that was Mary Fields.” Published by Historical Snapshots. https://historicalsnaps.com/2018/02/17/legend-mary-fields/

A quote from Marie Curie

Quote

“All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child.”

– Marie Curie, the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize and the first person to win the prize twice. She won the award for physics in 1903 and chemistry in 1911.

Black and white portrait of Marie Curie in profile, facing left. She appears contemplative, resting her face on her right hand, with her elbow propped up on a surface. Curie wears a dark blouse with a high collar, and her hair is pulled back. The photograph has a soft, focused light on her face against a dark background.
Marie Curie

“A quote from Marie Curie” sources:

Notes:

WWII hero Nancy Wake

Black and white photograph of Nancy Wake, a World War II resistance fighter, smiling and looking off to the side. She has curly hair and is wearing a military uniform adorned with a badge and military ribbons on her chest.
Nancy Wake

Snapshot Biography

In look, Nancy Wake was glamorous; in personality, she was a fearless fighter. Rebellious in her way of being, she was born in the picturesque landscapes of New Zealand, but at the age of 16, Nancy ran away from home. Using £200 inherited from an aunt, she traveled to New York City and then to London, where she trained as a journalist.

In the 1930s, she moved again, taking a job in Paris for Hearst newspapers as a European correspondent, witnessing the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi movement. Another move came a few years later. This time, she went to Vienna, where Nancy observed Nazi gangs beating Jewish men and women in the streets.

After these experiences, Nancy vowed to do anything she could to stop the Nazi movement. “I hate wars and violence but if they come then I don’t see why we women should just wave our men a proud goodbye and then knit them balaclavas,” she would say.

During World War II, Nancy joined the resistance, becoming a Special Operations Executive in Britain, working under the code name “Hélène”. She became a courier and escort for Allied soldiers and refugees looking to leave France. “It was much easier for us, you know, to travel all over France. A woman could get out of a lot of trouble that a man could not,” she remarked regarding the work.

Nancy took part in many missions, and her life was in constant danger. At one time, she was the most wanted person by the Gestapo. But she was always able to elude capture, a skill which earned her the nickname, “The White Mouse.” Her husband, however, was captured and executed for not sharing information about her whereabouts.

Nancy became one of the most decorated servicewomen of the war by the Allies. Looking back, she would remark, “I was never afraid. I was too busy to be afraid.”

After the war, Nancy briefly pursued a career as an intelligence officer in the Air Ministry​​. She passed away on August 7, 2011.

Notes:

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“WWII hero Nancy Wake” Sources:

Janusz Korczak and his children

“He told the orphans they were going out into the country, so they ought to be cheerful. At last they would be able to exchange the horrible suffocating city walls for meadows of flowers, streams where they could bathe, woods full of berries and mushrooms. He told them to wear their best clothes, and so they came out into the yard, two by two, nicely dressed and in a happy mood.”

Janusz Korczak portrait, taken circa 1930
Janusz Korczak, circa 1930

Then he walked with them, “his head bent forward, holding the hand of a child, without a hat, a leather belt around his waist, and wearing high boots.”

Janusz Korczak ran an orphanage in Warsaw before the war started. Then in 1940 his orphanage was forced to move to the Warsaw ghetto. Janusz went with the children.

He had opportunities to leave the ghetto. The resistance wanted to help him escape. He chose to stay, to be with the children, to be with them to the end, to that day in early August of 1942, when he had to convince the SS men to let him go with the children to Treblinka, an extermination camp.

“I exist not to be loved and admired, but to love and act. It is not the duty of those around me to love me. Rather, it is my duty to be concerned about the world, about man.”

This was Janusz Korczak.

Notes:

Reader donations help us continue writing stories. If you can, visit our Patreon page to donate. Thank you for your support.

Click here to read a snapshot biography of another Holocaust hero, Corrie ten Boom.

“Janusz Korczak and his children” sources: Portrait taken in Warsaw, Poland, circa 1930 – United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Miedzynarodowe Stowarzyszenie im. Janusza Korczaka / Wikimedia Commons / “He told the orphans…” quote: Jerzy Waldorff, Władysław Szpilman, The Pianist. Page 96. / “I exist not be…” quote: Warsaw Ghetto Memoirs of Janusz Korczak / “His head bent…” quote: Ghetto eyewitness, Joshua Perle – Nick Shepley (7 December 2015). Hitler, Stalin and the Destruction of Poland: Explaining History. Andrews UK Limited. p. 55. ISBN 978-1-78333-143-7 / 

Hazel Lee, WASP pilot during WWII

Hazel Ying Lee loved to have fun. She liked playing pranks, and some described her as hilarious. She was also adventurous and athletic, enjoying swimming and playing handball. But maybe most of all, Hazel was courageous and loved flying planes. About Hazel’s love for flying, her sister said she “enjoyed the danger and doing something that was new to Chinese girls.”

Black-and-white photograph of Hazel Lee standing in front of an airplane. She is wearing a pilot's uniform with a buttoned shirt, tie, belted trousers, and tall leather boots. Her headgear includes a leather aviator cap with goggles pushed up on her forehead, and she has a confident smile.
Hazel Lee, 1932

Hazel was born to Chinese-American immigrant parents in Portland, Oregon, in 1912. At nineteen, Hazel watched a friend fly. That experience marked the beginning of her lifelong love. Determined to pursue this newfound passion, she saved money and, with the financial help of the Portland Chinese Benevolent Society, earned her pilot’s license, making her the first Chinese-American woman to earn one.

Wanting to put her aviation skills to good use, Hazel accepted an invitation to become a Women Airforce Service Pilot for the U.S. during World War II. The program had been created to add more pilots for the U.S. in the war effort, though these female pilots were non-combat, focusing their efforts on testing and ferrying aircraft and training pilots. They were also not officially considered part of the military and thus received no military benefits. Hazel joined as the first Chinese-American pilot.

Hazel’s attitude towards the work was described well by a fellow pilot — “I’ll take and deliver anything.” “Calm and fearless,” she had a great attitude and brought her sense of humor to the job. After an incident in which her plane went down in a farm field and a person on the ground mistook her for an enemy Japanese combatant, Hazel shared the story with her fellow pilots to exuberant laughter and continued her work proudly supporting the U.S. war effort.

Sadly, however, on November 23rd, 1944, while flying in bad weather conditions in North Dakota, the plane she was piloting collided with another aircraft upon landing. She suffered severe burns, and two days later, she passed away. Hazel was buried next to her brother, a U.S. soldier who was killed while fighting in France three days after Hazel’s passing.

Of the 38 female pilots to die during WWII, Hazel was the last one.

Notes

  • Reader donations help us continue publishing stories. If you enjoyed this Hazel Lee snapshot biography and are able to, please consider supporting us with a donation. Thank you for your support.
  • To cite: “Hazel Lee, WASP pilot during WWII.” Published by Historical Snapshots. https://historicalsnaps.com/2018/02/12/hazel-lee-wasp-pilot-wwii/
  • Story updated on January 9, 2023.

Sources