Actress to portray Amelia Earhart in Friday presentation

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Since her mysterious disappearance in 1937, as she attempted to complete a flight around the world, Amelia Earhart’s story has captivated people across the globe. At 2 p.m. Friday at the Martha-Ellen Tye Playhouse, noted actress and historian Leslie Goddard will don aviator attire and step back in time to perform a one-woman show about Earhart’s life. The event is free and open to the public, sponsored by the Marshalltown Public Library.

Since her mysterious disappearance in 1937, as she attempted to complete a flight around the world, Amelia Earhart’s story has captivated people across the world. At 2 p.m. Friday afternoon at the Martha-Ellen Tye Playhouse, noted actress and historian Leslie Goddard will don aviator attire and step back in time to perform a one-woman show about Earhart’s life.

The event, sponsored by the Marshalltown Public Library, is free and open to the public.

“A group of Iowa libraries joined together to bring Dr. Goddard to Iowa. We know that history is a favorite interest of the community and we are always looking to bring quality events to town,” library director Sarah Rosenblum said. “We actually let library visitors at an earlier program vote on which character they wanted her to portray and Amelia was the winner.

“We are very grateful to the Martha-Ellen Tye Playhouse and Rick Gooding for letting us move the program to the Playhouse.”

Goddard, who is based in Darien, Ill., has more than 10 years of experience presenting historical programs. An award-winning actress and scholar, she holds a Ph.D. from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in theater. She is a former museum director and author of the books “Remembering Marshall Field’s” and “Chicago’s Sweet Candy History.” She also portrays historical figures Louisa May Alcott, Georgia O’Keeffe, Eleanor Roosevelt, Clara Barton and Jacqueline Kennedy, among others.

She has a favorite part of playing the famed aviator.

“What I enjoy most is sharing the stories about Amelia Earhart that most people don’t know — and that are so inspiring,” Goddard said. “Most Americans still know her name, but not many people know stories about how adventurous she was as a girl. She once built a roller coaster in her back yard, with a wooden crate and roller skate wheels.

“I think she crashed it the first time she tried it, but it shows you how much she loved adventure and thrills, even when she was little. She got her mother to make her bloomers, those baggy pants that buckle under your knee, so that she could climb trees and ride bicycles as a girl. People forget how recently it was that girls couldn’t easily do those things. When she got older, she decided she wanted a woman to teach her how to fly an airplane — and she found one.”

Culling from Earhart’s published works, Goddard will share with attendees how Earhart learned to fly, what influenced her adventurous nature, and why she embarked on the ill-fitted flight around the world.

“The program is geared for adult audiences, mostly just in terms of the language, but really there’s nothing in it that a younger person wouldn’t be able to enjoy,” Goddard said. “I typically say it’s best for ages of about 12 and up.”

However, anyone interested in attending is welcome.

Speculation about what happened to Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan has only blossomed in the 81 years since they vanished. According to a recent report in USA Today, Richard Gillespie, executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, has analyzed a series of radio distress calls picked up by governmental agencies and witnesses in the days following the disappearance, which he believes came from Earhart.

“I always say that there’s a part of me that hopes her airplane is never found, because as long as her disappearance is a mystery, people will be interested in her life, and it’s such a fascinating life,” Goddard said.

For more information, the library’s Information Desk may be reached at 641-754-5738 ext. 4. Goodard may be reached at l-goddard@att.net and her work is viewable at www.lesliegoddard.info

———-

Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com