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Maria Tallchief Biography

Ballet Dancer (1925–2013)
Maria Tallchief was a revolutionary American ballerina who broke barriers for Native American women.


Born on January 24, 1925 in Fairfax, Oklahoma, Maria Tallchief was the first Native American (Osage Tribe) woman to break into ballet. Tallchief grew up in Los Angeles, California, where she studied ballet for many years. Her career as a ballerina spanned the globe and led to a short marriage to George Balanchine. She died on April 11, 2013, at age 88, in Chicago, Illinois.


Early Life and Career

Born Elizabeth Marie Tall Chief on January 24, 1925, in Fairfax, Oklahoma, Maria Tallchief was one of the country's leading ballerinas from the 1940s to the '60s. The daughter of an Osage tribe member, she was also a trailblazer for Native Americans in the world of ballet. Tallchief grew up in Los Angeles, California, where she studied ballet for years, working with Ernest Belcher and Bronislava Nijinska.


During her early career, in the 1940s, Tallchief danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. It was also around this time that she became known professionally as Maria Tallchief, combining the two parts of her Indian name. In 1947, she became the first prima ballerina of the New York City Ballet—a title that she would hold for the next 13 years. That same year, Tallchief became the first American to dance with the Paris Opera Ballet. In addition to her work with the NYCB and Paris Opera Ballet, she was a guest performer with the American Ballet Theatre.


Around this same time, Tallchief met and became involved with the famed choreographer George Balanchine. The couple wed in 1946 and separated in 1951. While their marriage was short-lived, the two worked well together. After joining the New York City Ballet in 1948, Tallchief danced to Balanchine's choreography.

Famed Ballerina

Maria Tallchief quickly became a popular figure in ballet, performing in productions such as Orpheus, Scotch Symphony, Miss Julie, Firebird and The Nutcracker (performing as Sugar Plum Fairy). She also created roles for Orpheus and Scotch Symphony, both choreographed by Balanchine, among other plays he choreographed. In addition to wide fame, Tallchief earned strong reviews from critics for her technical precision, musicality and strength.


In 1957, Tallchief married Henry Paschen. After the birth of their daughter, Elise, in 1959, Tallchief took some time away from ballet. She eagerly returned to the stage, working on several more productions until her retirement in 1965. Thereafter, she became a ballet instructor and began serving as artistic director for the Lyric Opera Ballet. Later, she founded and became artistic director of the Chicago City Ballet.


In 1996, Tallchief became one of only five artists to receive the Kennedy Center Honors for their artistic contributions in the United States. That same year, the dancer was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

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Connie Chung Biography

News Anchor, Journalist (1946–)
In 1993, Connie Chung became the first woman to co-anchor CBS Evening News, as well as the first Asian and the second woman to anchor one of America's major network newscasts. She has worked at CBS, ABC, NBC and CNN.

American journalist and news anchor Connie Chung was born on August 20, 1946, in Washington, D.C. In 1993, the trailblazing Chung became the first woman to co-anchor CBS Evening News, as well as the first Asian and the second woman to anchor one of America's major network newscasts. The Emmy and Peabody award winner has worked at CBS, ABC, NBC and CNN. Chung is married to talk show host Maury Povich.

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Linda R. Marshall




Linda R. Marshall was born and reared in Utah, and attended Brigham Young University and the University of Utah. After a series of marketing jobs in the fashion and beauty industries, in 1975 she became president of Elysée Scientific Cosmetics, the company she has loved and respected since childhood. Linda now holds the position of Chairman of Elysée. Founded on reliable and proven European formulas by Dr. Elizabeth Blumenthal, Elysée was brought to the United States in 1940. In 1975, Elysée moved its Corporate Headquarters from San Francisco, California, to Madison, Wisconsin. Today, under the leardership of President & Owner, Linda Marshall, Elysée continues to be a visionary in the introduction of important skin care breakthroughs. Elysée, originally available exclusively through the salons where rich and famous demanded only the best, is now distributed throughout the country both through salons and electronic marketing.


Because of her knowledge and experience in the beauty industry in 1977, Linda became the only woman on the Board of Directors of the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA), the trade association that has represented the entire cosmetic industry since 1894. A year later she became the first woman elected to the Executive Committee of CTFA. She continues to serve on the Board and the Executive Commettee and is Chairman of the CTFA Small Business Committee. In March 1996, Linda was elected to the Board of Directors of ImmuDyne, Inc., a Texas-based bio-technology company specializing in macrophage technology. Since May of 1996, she has held the position of Chairman of the Board of Immudyne, the highest qualifications in technology and business experience.


Active in the world of fashion and beauty pageants, Linda has judged the “Miss Teen America” and “Miss America World America” contests and has served as the judge for the World Modeling Association. In 1980 she published a book Discover The Other Woman In You and has written a monthly column for Beauty Fashion Magazine.


In 1986, Ms. Marshall formed a company with Dionne Warwick to market a line of perfume and fragrance products under the name “Dionne.” Linda has personally helped many well-known celebrities with their beauty and skincare needs.


In 1994, Linda and Stefanie Powers formed a partnership on the development of a unique aromatherapy fragrance line bearing Stefanies name. In November 1998, the Stefanie Power’s “Rare Orchid.” EDT Spray and Body Moisturizing Spray was launched on QVC.


Due to Linda’s deep interest in abused women and children, a portion of Elysée sales go to shelters in support of this cause. Elysée also contributes to the “Look Good, Feel Better” program for women recovering from breast cancer. Linda is also an active board member of this well-known foundation. Linda and her family established a foundation for her son who passed away in 2002, the James E. Marshall OCD Foundation to educate on the seriousness of this illness. Robert Wagner, Jill St. John, and Dionne Warwick also serve on the foundation.


Listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the World, and Who’s Who of American Women, Linda has been recognized as a leading woman entrepreneur, and she was recently appointed as an Honorary Chairman on the President’s National Congressional Committee, Business Advisory Council, to represent Wisconsin. Among her proudest titles is “Mom” used often by her son, John; and “Grammy” used by her two grandchildren, Jadyn and Ryan.


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Mary Jane Patterson Biography

Educator (c. 1840–1894)
Born into slavery, Mary Jane Patterson is largely recognized as the first black woman in the United States to graduate from an established four-year college.
Born in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1840, Mary Jane Patterson became the first African-American woman to receive a college degree when she graduated from Oberlin College in 1862. The daughter of fugitive slaves, she went on to have an illustrious career as an educator and was known to be a mentor to many African Americans. 

Mary Jane Patterson was born in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1840. She is believed to be the oldest of seven children, and that her parents, Henry Irving and Emeline Eliza Patterson, were fugitive slaves. In 1852, her family left Raleigh and moved to Oberlin, Ohio in 1856, in hopes that the children would be able to get a college education. Growing up, her father -- a childhood friend of Andrew Johnson -- supported the family through his work as a skilled mason. To help make ends meet, the family also boarded black students.


In 1835, Oberlin College admitted its first black student and two years later became the country’s first coed institution of higher education. It was also the first college in the country to grant undergraduate degrees to women. These changes paved the way for Mary Jane Patterson, who studied for a year in the college’s Preparatory Department. There were still only a few black students enrolled at the college during her four years leading to her graduation in 1862. By earning her B.A., Patterson became the nation’s first African-American woman to receive a bachelor’s degree. (Patterson’s brother, John, and her sisters Emma and Chanie Ann, all would graduate from Oberlin and go on to pursue teaching careers.)


After graduation, Mary Jane Patterson taught at the Institute for Colored Youths in Philadelphia, then accepted a teaching position in Washington D.C at the Preparatory High School for Colored Youths. In 1871, she became the first black principal of the newly-founded Preparatory High School for Negroes. Over the course of her career, she was known to be a mentor to many African-American women. She continued working at the school until her death on September, 24 1894.

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Donyale Luna (August 31, 1945 – May 17, 1979) was an American model and actress. In 1966, Luna became the first black model to appear on the cover of Vogue.[2][3]

She also appeared in several underground films by Andy Warhol, and had roles in Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo? (1966), and most notably as Enotea in the 1969 Federico Fellini film Fellini Satyricon as well as Otto Preminger's Skidoo, alongside Groucho Marx.


As a child, Patricia Burns found it fun to flip through fashion magazines and ogle the stylishly dressed models. One stood out so much that Burns would eventually name her second daughter after her. Donyale.


Donyale Luna became the first black woman in the world to appear on the cover of a major fashion magazine. Her lithe body and mesmerizing features took her to first to New York and then to London, just two years after legendary photographer David McCabe discovered her in Detroit. A sketch of her appeared on the cover of

Harper’s Bazaar in January 1965 and the following year, her face — at least part of it — graced the cover of British Vogue.


She’d go on to appear in numerous fashion shoots and movies and she became friends with the likes of Miles Davis, Mia Farrow and Andy Warhol, who were among the artistic glitterati who took her in.


But little more than a decade after her after her seductive eyes peered through her fingers on the iconic March 1966 Vogue cover, she was dead.


In recent years, there has been renewed interest in her spurred in part by vintage images and social media that makes it easier to post and spur hot topics. Several Pinterest pages and blogs tout her beauty, and images of her now appear on t-shirts and earrings.


Still, she’s not a household name like other fashion and film trailblazers, a sad fact given her record-breaking contributions.

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Amelia Earhart Biography

Pilot (1897–c. 1939)
Aviator Amelia Earhart was born on July 24, 1897 in Atchison, Kansas. In 1923, Earhart, fondly known as "Lady Lindy," became the 16th woman to be issued a pilot's license. She had several notable flights, becoming the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928, as well as the first person to fly over both the Atlantic and Pacific. In 1937, she mysteriously disappeared while trying to circumnavigate the globe from the equator. Since then, several theories have formed regarding Earhart's last days, many of which have been connected to various artifacts that have been found on Pacific islands—including clothing, tools and, more recently, freckle cream. Earhart was legally declared dead in 1939.

Amelia Earhart was born on July 24, 1897 in Atchison, Kansas, in America's heartland. She spent much of her early childhood in the upper-middle class household of her maternal grandparents. Amelia's mother, Amelia "Amy" Otis, married a man who showed much promise, but had never been able to break the bonds of alcohol. Edwin Earhart was on a constant search to establish his career and put the family on a firm financial foundation. When the situation got bad, Amy would shuttle Amelia and her sister Muriel to their grandparents' home. There they sought out adventures, exploring the neighborhood, climbing trees, hunting for rats, and taking breathtaking rides on Amelia's sled.


Even after the family was reunited when Amelia was 10, Edwin constantly struggled to find and maintain gainful employment. This caused the family to move around, and Amelia attended several different schools. She showed early aptitude in school for science and sports, though it was difficult to do well academically and make friends. In 1915, Amy separated once again from her husband, and moved Amelia and her sister to Chicago to live with friends. While there, Amelia attended Hyde Park High School, where she excelled in chemistry. Her father's inability to be the provider for the family led Amelia to become independent and not rely on someone else to "take care" of her.


After graduation, Amelia Earhart spent a Christmas vacation visiting her sister in Toronto, Canada. After seeing wounded soldiers returning from World War I, she volunteered as a nurse's aide for the Red Cross. Earhart came to know many of the wounded who were pilots. She developed a strong admiration for aviators, spending much of her free time watching the Royal Flying Corps practicing at the airfield nearby. In 1919, Earhart enrolled in medical studies at Columbia University. She quit a year later to be with her parents, who had reunited in California.


At a Long Beach air show in 1920, Amelia Earhart took a plane ride that transformed her life. It was only 10 minutes, but when she landed she knew she had to learn to fly. Working at a variety of jobs, from photographer to truck driver, she earned enough money to take flying lessons from pioneer female aviator Anita "Neta" Snook. Earhart immersed herself in learning to fly. She read everything she could find on flying, and spent much of her time at the airfield. She cropped her hair short, in the style of other women aviators. Worried what the other, more experienced pilots might think of her, she even slept in her new leather jacket for three nights to give it a more "worn" look.

In the summer of 1921, Earhart purchased a second-hand Kinner Airster biplane painted bright yellow. She nicknamed it "The Canary," and set out to make a name for herself in aviation. On October 22, 1922, she flew her plane to 14,000 feet—the world altitude record for female pilots. On May 15, 1923, Amelia Earhart became the 16th woman to be issued a pilot's license by the world governing body for aeronautics, The Federation Aeronautique.


Throughout this period, the Earhart family lived mostly on an inheritance from Amy's mother's estate. Amy administered the funds but, by 1924, the money had run out. With no immediate prospects of making a living flying, Amelia Earhart sold her plane. Following her parents' divorce, she and her mother set out on a trip across the country starting in California and ending up in Boston. In 1925 she again enrolled in Columbia University, but was forced to abandon her studies due to limited finances.


Earhart found employment first as a teacher, then as a social worker.

Earhart gradually got back into aviation in 1927, becoming a member of the American Aeronautical Society's Boston chapter. She also invested a small amount of money in the Dennison Airport in Massachusetts, and acted as a sales representative for Kinner airplanes in the Boston area. She also wrote articles promoting flying in the local newspaper and began to develop a following as a local celebrity.


After Charles Lindbergh's solo flight from New York to Paris in May 1927, interest grew for having a woman fly across the Atlantic. In April 1928, Amelia Earhart received a phone call from Captain Hilton H. Railey, a pilot and publicity man, asking her, "Would you like to fly the Atlantic?" In a heartbeat she said "yes." She traveled to New York to be interviewed, and met with project coordinators, including publisher George P. Putnam. Soon she was selected to be the first woman on a transatlantic flight ... as a passenger. The wisdom at the time was that such a flight was too dangerous for a woman to conduct herself.


On June 17, 1928, Amelia Earhart took off from Trespassey Harbor, Newfoundland, in a Fokker F.Vllb/3m named Friendship. Accompanying her on the flight was pilot Wilmer "Bill" Stultz and co-pilot/mechanic Louis E. "Slim" Gordon. Approximately 20 hours and 40 minutes later, they touched down at Burry Point, Wales, in the United Kingdom. Due to the weather, Stultz did all the flying. Even though this was the agreed upon arrangement, Earhart later confided that she felt she "was just baggage, like a sack of potatoes." Then she added, "... maybe someday I'll try it alone."

The Friendship team returned to the United States, greeted by a ticker-tape parade in New York, and later a reception held in their honor with President Calvin Coolidge at the White House. The press dubbed her "Lady Lindy," a derivative of the "Lucky Lind," nickname for Charles Lindbergh. George Putnam had already published several writings by Lindbergh, and he saw Earhart's flight as a bestselling story with Amelia as the star. Putnam, who was married to Crayola heiress Dorothy Binney Putnam, invited Earhart to move into their Connecticut home so he could collaborate with Earhart on her book,  20 Hrs., 40 Min, which was published in 1928.

Putnam started to heavily promote her through a book, lecture tours, and product endorsements. Earhart actively became involved in the promotions, especially woman's fashions. For years she had sewn her own clothes, and now she contributed her input to new line of women's fashion that embodied a sleek and purposeful, yet feminine, look.


Through her celebrity endorsements, she gained notoriety and acceptance in the public eye. She accepted a position as associate editor at Cosmopolitan magazine, using the media outlet to campaign for commercial air travel. From this forum, she became a promoter for Transcontinental Air Transport, later known as Trans World Airlines (TWA), and was a vice president of National Airways, which flew routes in the northeast.


Not content with just celebrity status, Amelia set her sights on establishing herself as a respected aviator. Shortly after returning from the transatlantic fight, she set off on a successful solo flight across North America. In 1929, she entered the first Santa Monica-to-Cleveland Woman's Air Derby, and placed third. In 1931, Earhart powered a Pitcairn PCA-2 autogyro and set a world altitude record of 18,415 feet. During this time, Earhart became involved with the Ninety-Nines, an organization of female pilots advancing the cause of women in aviation. She became the organization's first president in 1930.


First Solo Flight Across the Atlantic

Amelia Earhart's public persona presented a gracious, if somewhat shy, woman who displayed remarkable talent and bravery. Yet deep inside, Earhart harbored a burning desire to distinguish herself as different from the rest of the world. She was an intelligent and competent pilot who never panicked or lost her nerve, but she was not a brilliant aviator. Her skills kept pace with aviation during the first decade of the century but, as technology moved forward with sophisticated radio and navigation equipment, Earhart continued to fly by instinct.


She recognized her limitations and continuously worked to improve her skills, but the constant promotion and touring never gave her the time she needed to catch up. Recognizing the power of her celebrity, she strove to be an example of courage, intelligence and self-reliance. She hoped her influence would help topple negative stereotypes about women, and open doors for them in every field.

Sometime before their marriage, Earhart and Putnam worked on secret plans for a solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. By early 1932, they had made their preparations. They announced that on the fifth anniversary of Charles Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic, Amelia would attempt the same feat. On the morning of May 20, 1932, she took off from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, with that day's copy of the local newspaper to confirm the date of the flight.


Almost immediately, the flight ran into difficulty as she encountered thick clouds and ice on the wings. After about 12 hours the conditions got worse, and the plane began to experience mechanical difficulties. She knew she wasn't going to make it to Paris as Lindbergh had, so she started looking for a new place to land. She found a pasture just outside the small village of Culmore, in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, and successfully landed. On May 22, 1932, she made an appearance at the Hanworth Airfield in London, where she received a warm welcome from local residents.Earhart's nearly 15-hour flight established her as an international hero, as she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Earhart As a result, Earhart won many honors, including the Gold Medal from the National Geographic Society as presented by President Hoover, the Distinguished Flying Cross from the U.S. Congress, and the Cross of the Knight of the Legion of Honor from the French government.


Several other notable flights followed for Amelia Earhart, including a solo trip from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Oakland, California. This flight established her as the first woman—as well as the first person—to fly both across the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. In April 1935, Earhart flew solo from Los Angeles to Mexico City, and a month later she flew from Mexico City to New York. Between 1930 and 1935, Amelia Earhart set seven women's speed and distance aviation records in a variety of aircraft. By 1935, Earhart began to contemplate one last fight that would set her apart for all others: to circle the world.

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Muldowney, Shirley


In the World of Motor Sports, results are often all that matter. For Shirley Muldowney the dual desire to compete and win gave her the impetus to break through barriers – barriers of gender, barriers of pain and barriers of time itself – in the quest for successful results. For the better part of forty years, Shirley Muldowney has been an icon in the field of Motor Sports, and even in her 60’s she continues to hold her own against the best racers on the planet.

Growing up and living through her teen years in New York, Shirley discovered early she had a penchant for speed and competition. In fact she became somewhat of a notorious local street racer in the early days, but was quickly drawn to a growing form of auto competition called Drag Racing. Reportedly, it was so-named because competitors would “drag” out through each gearshift. Drag racing is done on a straight course (normally one quarter-mile) in pairs with the lower elapsed time from start to end measured in seconds determining the winner.


After marrying former husband Jack Muldowney, she continued to pursue what was still considered a “men’s game”. Shirley began racing (and winning) in a variety of sportsman entries through 1964, including a brief stint in a factory experimental car during 1963. Indeed, she discovered there were a few things in life more satisfying than winning, and soon gained a reputation as someone who had no intention of backing down especially in gender-related issues.

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Women in Firefighting: A Brief History

Women have been firefighters for longer than most people realize: in fact, for almost 200 years. The first woman firefighter we know of was Molly Williams, who was a slave in New York City and became a member of Oceanus Engine Company #11 in about 1815.


One woman whose name is sometimes mentioned as an early female firefighter is the San Francisco heiress, Lillie Hitchcock Coit. She became an honorary member of Knickerbocker Engine Company #5 as a teenager in 1859, after helping them drag the engine to a fire on Telegraph Hill.


No doubt many of the names of women firefighters in the 19th and early 20th centuries have simply been lost to the historical record, but we do see glimpses of individual women firefighters in New Jersey and Connecticut during those years. Girton Ladies’ College in Great Britain had an all-women’s fire brigade from 1878 until 1932. Between 1910 and 1920, women’s volunteer fire companies functioned in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Los Angeles, California.


In the late 1920’s, Emma Vernell became a member of Westside Hose Company #1 at the age of 50, after her firefighter husband died in the line of duty. She was the first woman officially recognized as a firefighter by the State of New Jersey. A decade later, also in New Jersey, a woman named Augusta Chasans became a volunteer firefighter.


During World War II, many women across the country entered the volunteer fire service to take the place of men who had been called into the military. Two military fire departments in Illinois were staffed entirely by women for part of the war.

All-women fire companies developed in King County, California, and Woodbine, Texas, in the 1960’s. By the 1970’s, it was becoming slightly more common for women to join the ranks of regular volunteer fire departments and work side-by-side with their male peers, and the institution of the all-women company began to fade away.


Women in the Wildland Fire Service

The first all-woman forest firefighting crew in California was assembled in 1942. Employed by the California Department of Forestry, the crew consisted of a foreman, a truck driver, an assistant driver, firefighters, and a cook.


The first women in the postwar period known to have been paid for fire suppression work were wildland firefighting crews working for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). An all-women BLM crew worked on fires in Alaska during the summer of 1971, and a crew of USFS women worked that year and the following year in Montana.


Early Female Career Firefighters


Sandra Forcier was hired as a Public Safety Officer (a combination police officer and firefighter) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in July of 1973. The following March, Judith Livers was hired by the Arlington County Fire Department in Virginia and became the first woman career firefighter in the world. Both women served full careers with their departments and retired at the rank of battalion chief.

By the mid-1970’s, women were becoming career firefighters here and there throughout the country. Among there were a number of African-American women, including Genois Wilson in the Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1975 and Toni McIntosh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1976.


More than 6,500 women now hold career firefighting and fire officer’s positions in the United States,. Among the volunteer and paid-on-call fire and EMS forces in the United States are perhaps 30-40,000 women firefighters, and thousands more EMT’s and paramedics. The history of these women and their foremothers is long and proud, and continues to be written.

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Irish women have had an immeasurable impact on American history and society, and in a very necessary act of recognition, IrishCentral’s sister publication Irish America magazine has launched their first-ever Women’s Issue, celebrating the Top 50 Power Women in Irish America.


In the mid-1800s, the Irish were the largest immigrant group entering the US. But here’s a little known fact about the millions of Irish who made that journey: by the 1870s, the female immigrants outnumbered the males.


As Irish America’s Co-Founder and Editor, Patricia Harty, writes, “Unlike other countries, Irish women immigrated in numbers equal to men. Between 1846 and 1875, half of the 2,700,000 Irish entering the United States were female. By the 1870s, female immigrants outnumbered the males. As single women, they found jobs as live-in maids and cooks and housekeepers in New York, Boston, and other cities. The work was hard, the hours long, and the pay not great, but they had a roof over their heads, and they sent money back home to keep the roof over their parents’ heads, and pay for passage over for younger brothers and sisters.”


The Power 50 list recognizes the achievements of the most influential and innovative Irish and Irish American women across all fields. From finance and business professionals to media personalities, political figures, and healthcare workers, the women featured in the list have become leading voices in the corporate and cultural American landscape.

Who are they? There’s Anne Anderson, the first woman to hold the position of Irish Ambassador to the US; Gillian Murphy, principal dancer with the American Ballet Denise Morrison, CEO of the Campbell Soup Company; Dr. Barbara Murphy, chair of the Samuel Bronfman Department of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at the Mount Sinai Health System – one of only three women to be appointed chair of medicine at a top medical school; Kathleen Kennedy of Lucafilm; fashion designer Orla Kiley; Mary Kay Henry, chair of the Service Employees International Union; Senator Susan M. Collins of Maine; Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jennifer Egan; Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Maureen Dowd; Maureen Mitchell, president of Global Sales and Marketing for GE Asset Management; and Samantha Barry head of Social Media and senior director of Social News for CNN.



IrishCentral is pleased to share with you a selection of inspiring quotes from a few of the honorees on what it means to be Irish as well as the triumphs and remaining obstacles women face today. To read the full list and more articles from the June/July issue, visit

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Grace Kelly Biography

Princess, Film Actress (1929–1982)
A highly popular film actress in the 1950s, Grace Kelly starred in movies such as Dial M for Murder and To Catch a Thief. She married Prince Rainier III of Monaco.
Born in Philadelphia in 1929, Grace Kelly became a popular actress in the 1950s starring in movies such as Dial M for Murder (1954), To Catch a Thief (1955) and The Swan (1956). She gained even greater fame after having starred in the film The Country Girl (1954), for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress. She married Prince Rainier III of Monaco, with whom she had three children, in 1956. She died after having been in a car accident on September 14, 1982. Nicole Kidman won the role of Kelly in the 2014 biopic Grace of Monaco.

Actress and Princess Consort of Monaco Grace Patricia Kelly was born on November 12, 1929, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her father, John Brendan "Jack" Kelly, was a champion sculler who won three Olympic gold medals as part of the U.S. rowing team. A self-made millionaire, he owned one of the most successful brick businesses on the East Coast. Her mother, Margaret Katherine Majer, was the first coach of women's athletic teams at the University of Pennsylvania. Kelly was the third of four children and was named after her father's sister, who died at a very young age.

Kelly expressed a deep love of performance at a young age. In addition to participating in school plays and community productions, she occasionally modeled with her mother and sister. While attending Stevens School, a small private high school in Philadelphia, she continued to dream about acting. The arts held a prominent place in the Kelly family. Her uncles Walter C. Kelly, a vaudevillian performer, and George Kelly, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, both had a huge affect on her. It was George who later encouraged his niece to pursue a full-time acting career, mentoring her through her rise in Hollywood.


After high school, Kelly decided to pursue an acting career in New York City despite her parents' objections. According to Kellys close friend Judith Balaban Quine, Jack Kelly thought that acting was "a slim cut above streetwalker." Despite this, Kelly enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. As a student, she modeled part-time and appeared in ads for Old Gold cigarettes and on the covers of magazines like Cosmopolitan and Redbook. Her final performance at the Academy was in A Philadelphia Story. Years later she would reprise her role in High Society (1956), a musical adaptation on the big screen


After graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York at age 19, Kelly sought a career on Broadway, but she found it tough going. Don Richardson, one of her directors and teachers later said, "She would never have had a career in the theater," because she had "great looks and style, yes, but no vocal horsepower."

Whether or not that assessment was correct, Kelly soon found that film was more amenable to her talents. In the years just following World War II, the film and television industries were both booming, and Kelly soon moved to Hollywood. She would eventually feature in 11 films and star in over 60 television productions.

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