beauty icon, amelia earhart

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Photo: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University / Courtesy of the ICP

Amelia Earhart

“As soon as we left the ground, I knew I had to fly,” Amelia Earhart is reported to have said after her first flight. And fly she did. Fascination with the “Queen of the Air” endures in large part due to her mysterious disappearance over the Pacific in 1937, but the plucky aviatrix’s gender-defying talents—she was the first female to fly solo across the Atlantic—made her one of the most celebrated faces of her own time. Clad in leather jackets, silk ties, and slim trousers, the Kansas-born tomboy ushered in an era of independence for women confined until then to corsets and sitting rooms. Indeed, her slight frame and boyish crop of tousled hair led to comparisons with Charles Lindbergh—her generation’s other great pilot. But behind those goggles “Lady Lindy” was a true beauty, with silver-dollar eyes, a slender neck, and freckles scattered across a button nose. An exhibition celebrating Earhart’s life and her iconic image opens today, May 11th, at New York’s International Center of Photography.

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Photo: New York Times Photo Archives / Courtesy of the ICP

On the roof of Boston’s Copley Hotel, shot by Paramount photographer Jake Coolidge. The images from this shoot led to Earhart’s “Lady Lindy” nickname and were featured in The New York Times.

Photo: New York Times Photo Archives / Courtesy of the ICP

Earhart is presented with a bouquet at the Boston airport, July 1928.

Photo: National Archives and Records Administration / Courtesy of the ICP

The sky’s not the limit: Earhart prepares for a deep-sea dive off Block Island, July 25, 1929.

Photo: New York Times Photo Archives / Courtesy of the ICP

Earhart with Harpo Marx in Hollywood, California, July 1932.

Photo: Picture Collection, New York Public Library; Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations / ICP

The actor and the aviatrix. Earhart with Cary Grant, Hollywood, California, 1935.

Photo: Courtesy of the ICP

In Waikiki, Hawaii, 1935.

Photo: Courtesy of the ICP

Earhart and her husband, George Palmer Putnam, at home in Rye, New York, circa 1935.

Photo: Time Inc. / International Center of Photography, Life Magazine Collection

Earhart in 1936, a year before her uncompleted solo flight around the world.