If you saw the 1986 movie Top Gun, you’ll remember the tag line: “I feel the need … the need for speed.” But 81 years before Maverick and Goose uttered those words, Dorothy Levitt, self-styled “motoriste,” became the first English woman to compete in automobile racing, setting the Ladies World Land speed record and earning the nickname The Fastest Girl on Earth, driving an 80-horsepower Napier at the lightning speed of 79.75 miles an hour.
As an Athlete, Actress, and Designer, She Swam Her Way to Fame
Ever since Disney’s aquatic Princess Ariel debuted in 1989, mermaids have become a thing. Before Ariel, there was actress Glynis Johns as a mermaid named Miranda in 1948. And who can forget Daryl Hannah striding ashore in all that strategically-placed hair in the 1980s’ movie Splash? But long before any of those film mermaids, there was Australia’s Annette Kellerman.
Early 20th Century Mountaineer Received Little Credit for Her Exploits
It was a classic case of “anything you can do, I can do better,” set in the magnificent Canadian Rockies in 1904 when Gertrude “Truda” Benham, at 36, set out to satisfy her wanderlust by climbing as many Rocky Mountain peaks as she could before summer’s end.
Until the 1960s, gender discrimination was a proud fact of life in the male-only world of thoroughbred horse racing in the United States. Females could not be licensed as jockeys. But a gutsy, 5-foot tall, 104 pound slip of a woman named Diane Crump changed all that at Florida’s Hialeah Park in 1969.
As a little girl born in Budapest, Ágnes Keleti dreamed of becoming a cellist. Instead, she saw her father deported to Auschwitz, escaped the Nazis using forged identity papers and, ten years later, became one of the greatest Olympian gymnasts of all time and the most successful Jewish female athlete in the history of the Games.
They’re not the Houston Astros; they never had a movie made about them. But these Wednesday’s Women were once the Girls of Summer. The first women paid to play baseball, they took the field for their first game in 1875. Continue reading “‘Bloomer Girls’ Baseball Teams”