Gone, Not Forgotten

July 26, 2012

Amelia Earhart accomplished more than disappearing.

Amelia Earhart disappeared over the Pacific roughly 75 years ago while trying to circumnavigate the globe with co-pilot Frederick J. Noonan. The search for her remains continues even today. The National Portrait Gallery marks the dubious anniversary with “One Life: Amelia Earhart,” a show of photos, paintings and drawings of the trailblazing pilot, as well as some of her belongings. As “One Life” demonstrates, Earhart’s VIP status gave her the chance to wear many other hats besides her flying helmet:

Mentor
Earhart was a visiting faculty member at Indiana’s Purdue University in the 1930s. She served as a career counselor for female students and as a technical adviser to the university’s aeronautics department.

Media Darling (Sort of)
Earhart endorsed a number of products, including cigarettes — even though she didn’t smoke. A 1928 advertisement featured her portrait above a pack of Lucky Strikes. The campaign wasn’t exactly a hit: A copy of the ad on view in “One Life” bears the inscription, written by an unidentified person, “Is this the face of a Lady? What Price Glory!”

Fashionista
Earhart once designed clothing for her own branded line of sportswear and luggage. Some items were even made using airplane parts: Buttons were made of wing nuts and belt buckles were fashioned using ball bearings.

National Portrait Gallery, 8th and F streets NW; to May 27, free; 202-633-8300. (Gallery Place)

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Katie Aberbach · July 26, 2012