did you guys ever watch that show Pan Am? it was about air stewardesses in the 1960s, TV execs obviously wanted to cash in on the height of the Mad Men period drama obsession at the time. it was not the best show… pretty cheesy and the storylines were totally contrived – but i liked it for some reason (i thought the French Canadian actress was quite good, here’s hoping she has a breakout role sometime in the future, much like another Pan Am actress Margot Robbie ended up having).
the show did attempt to show the struggles and ambitions of women working in a highly sexist environment and era, something i was reminded of when i saw these photos taken by Peter Stackpole in 1958 for an article in LIFE magazine.
“They all want to be airline stewardesses and here are coping with situations that will face them if they make the grade. The job they want does not pay extraordinarily well, only $255 to $355 a month. The life is irregular and the opportunities for promotion are small. But the chance to fly, to see the world and meet all sorts of interesting people – mostly the kind of men who can afford to travel by plane – gives the job real glamour.”
“mostly the kind of men who can afford to travel by plane” – wow, even the article is sexist! but at a time when women didn’t have many options, besides getting married and taking care of their families, the opportunity to work and travel must have been pretty amazing. read the LIFE piece here.
“The first thing a girl does at school is to get to look like a stewardess. She has her hair cut to the company’s standards of shortness (it must not come below the collar), takes quick courses in make-up (must be used sparingly) and in posture (walk erect, sit like a lady).”
“Course in slimming is part of curriculum at American Airlines’ luxurious college for stewardesses near Dallas. Here trainees roll away excess hippage.”
“Session in the sun beside the pool at American school gives trainees a chance to relax and tan.”
“Cavorting in California between flights, United stewardesses Dorothy Jordan, Jill Weinhart and Barbara Scherer splash in the surf at Hermosa Beach.”
“Meandering in Manhattan, SAS girls Bente Moller, Birgitta Lindman & Berit Poulsen eye a hansom near Central Park.”