Friday, February 5, 2010

The Friendly Skies: Career Girl Romances 24 - "My Love Had Wings"

The June 1964 issue of Charlton's Career Girl Romances (#24) actually starts out with a stereotype - "an airline hostess leads an adventurous and romance-filled life" - and that is certainly the underlying theme of this and other air hostess romance stories from the 50s and 60s. In the 1960s romance comics particularly, career women don't abandon their job the second some guy proposes. As we'll see with this story, Marie Willard wanted to milk the excitement of commercial aviation first before she thought of settling down at some as yet to be determined future point in her life. But I'm jumping ahead. The story begins with a review of how Marie came to be interested in becoming an air hostess in the first place. It looks like she lost her mother when she was young, and was traveling with her father when she encountered Della Reeves, a friendly airline hostess. Marie was inspired by Della's kindness, and on that journey Della became the female role model that the young girl lacked. There and then Marie's ambition to follow Della into the friendly skies was born, and with her father's encouragement she did just that when she grew up, coincidentally having an older and higher ranking Della as her trainer years later.
Marie's training finished, she's off on her adventurous life as an air hostess. From the last panel on page 3 of the story, it looks as though air hostesses are to pilots as nurses are to doctors.One of the pilots on Marie's plane doesn't hang about when it comes to making a play for Marie, but Della had warned her not to think of romance during her first year, and the new air hostess is determined not to blow her new career. She puts Nick right in his place, and he has to be content with just being friends. That way, though, they do end up spending their leisure hours together. Then Marie goes to meet her father while she has a bit of time off, and wow guess who he's with - Della! It must be difficult to move on from the untimely loss of a spouse, but Della had been like a mother figure to Marie, maybe she's what Marie's dad needs now. Della and Marie's dad are dancing, and then Nick invites Marie to twist (this could be the beginning of her moral decline, if you believe what you read in romance comics!). It seems that patience has worked in Nick's favor - Marie has developed some attachment for him.

The point of the story, though, is that Marie isn't going to sacrifice her career for romance. But all that globe trotting puts her in contact with a variety of men, and some of them are bound to be attracted to a shapely blond air hostess. Hamil for instance, a desert prince by the look of him, who wants Marie for his bride - she sets his blood on fire! Luckily Nick sees what's going down and comes to her rescue. By now Marie knows she loves Nick, but she still loves her job more. They arrange to meet in different places on different forthcoming occasions and it looks like that's how it will continue until Marie's had enough and wants to settle down. Will Nick wait for her? We'll never know!

Quite a clear message to young women that if they wanted this career and all its romance in the 1960s, it meant foregoing marriage and motherhood.


  1. So, is this how STDs spread worldwide so quickly ? Yuck ! All things being cyclical, I think a Woman today would choose Nick over a career, seeing how so many women in their 40s & 50s regret not having children. But then, I may be a born again chauvinist KB ! Keep these stories coming until we can all figger things out !

  2. I love these air hostess stories... they are great reflections of what the industry was like at the time. Most of the early flight attendents were trained as nurses, and had to deal with air-sickness quite frequently due to unpressurized cabins.

    Good analogy KB about the nurses and doctors, very true. To quote one of the best books I have found out there on the history of flight attendents (Working the Skies by Drew Whitelegg), "Nurses had long experience in deffering to male experts in the form of doctors and therefore, so the theory went, would have no trouble doing so with male pilots."

  3. KB: man, am I lovin' this art! So very clean and bright - great page design sticks with the clean theme. What a pleasing, airy look and tremendous color choices. Charlton at it's best. Dig that splash panel! To describe it - not much. But to see it. Ooohhh, that nicely filled blue dress! You can just feel that big, blonde body underneath. Boy, I wish I cold pin down that artist.

    Great post and fun reading! -- Mykal

  4. Lysdexicuss: yeah it does seem things maybe turning full circle with women starting to change their minds over the whole career versus kids thing. Interesting point.

    Jacque: I have that book and a few others about the live of air hostesses back in the day. So interesting. They were almost like flying bunny girls at one stage. They looked absolutely gorgeous in those beautiful uniforms though. It must have been a real treat in some respects to fly in the 60s, albeit one dependent on acceptance of the male dominated status quo. Air hostesses in romance comics are my next research project in romance comics.

    Mykal: She certainly is a very shapely lady on the splash page. I suspect she might be demonstrating the kind of figure the readers could attain if they purchased the new 'Tummy Slim' girdle advertised on the back cover of Career Girl Romances 24!

  5. Jacque: I didn't know that about air hostesses and nurses - that is so interesting! I should read the books on my bookshelf more carefully instead of largely browsing the pictures and dipping into the text here and there! Thanks very much for bringing that juicy bit of info to my attention.