The Roaring Twenties saw the rise of a phenomenon we know only too well today: The Celebrity.
Charles Lindbergh became an overnight sensation at the age of 25 when he achieved the first non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927, winning the Orteig Prize.
The media circus that turned him into a national hero was the first of its kind. He appeared in newspapers, magazines and books, on the radio and even in motion pictures. He was also one of the first celebrities to use his fame to promote causes he believed in.
However, the media frenzy that followed the abduction of his eldest son in 1932 was so intense that it forced the Lindberghs to leave the United States. They moved first to England and then to Brittany in France.
The subject of Lindbergh’s celebrity, and what it meant to America, is explored in the book Charles A Lindbergh: The Power and Peril of Celebrity 1927-1941 by Randy Roberts and David Welky.
- He taught his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, to fly and she became a celebrated pilot in her own right.
- While living in France, Lindbergh worked with medical pioneer Dr Alexis Carrel to develop a perfusion pump that would enable human organs to survive outside the body during surgery – a ground-breaking innovation that paved the way for transplant surgery.
- He flew combat missions in the Pacific during World War 2.
- In his later life he was an active environmentalist, campaigning for the protection of endangered wildlife.
- For many years he lived a double life, conducting secret affairs with sisters Brigitte and Marietta Hesshaimer, and their friend Valeska who was also his private secretary. Between them, he fathered seven children. And this was in addition to the six children he had with his wife!
- The popular 20s dance, The Lindy Hop, was named in his honour.