Segments in this Video

Martha Gellhorn: Introduction (02:32)


In 1936, the correspondent reported on the Spanish Civil War. She would cover nearly every major 20th century conflict, including World War II and Vietnam. Her marriages and relationship to her adopted son suffered for her career.

Childhood and Early Adulthood (03:03)

Gellhorn was born in St. Louis in 1908. Her mother, a suffragette, taught her that being a woman shouldn't compromise success. She moved to Paris to be a foreign correspondent in 1930, witnessed the rise of fascism, and became a pacifist and an accredited journalist.

Great Depression (03:05)

Gellhorn fell in love with a married French man and had an abortion. In 1934, she returned to the U.S. to cover FERA. Interviewing poor families, she developed her reporting style and social justice values.

Famous Patron (02:39)

Gellhorn's Great Depression reports caught Eleanor Roosevelt's attention and Roosevelt invited her to the White House to write her first book. In 1936, she met Ernest Hemingway in Florida. They became friends, and she asked him for writing advice.

Spanish Civil War (02:28)

Hemingway went to Spain in support of the elected Republican government. Gellhorn traveled to France, hitchhiked to Madrid, and joined Hemingway and other writers. Hemingway and Gellhorn became lovers, despite his marriage.

Becoming a War Correspondent (02:23)

At Hemingway's suggestion, Gellhorn wrote about the war's impact on civilians. An article for Collier's Weekly marked a career turning point. Gellhorn considered it her duty to follow World War II.

Covering World War II (02:29)

Gellhorn reported from Czechoslovakia, where citizens prepared for Hitler's invasion; she reported on Russia's invasion of Finland. Gellhorn's Collier's Weekly articles gained a following of 10 million readers. In 1940, she and Hemingway married.

London Blitz (02:07)

Gellhorn and Hemingway fought about his drinking; he resented her assignments but she wouldn't sacrifice her career. Women were banned from the front and Gellhorn reported on German air raids on England.

From Husband to Rival (02:04)

Hemingway wanted Gellhorn to put their marriage before her career; she refused. In revenge, he went to Europe and took her job at Collier's Weekly. Gellhorn decided to find a way to the front.

D-Day (02:59)

Male reporters accompanied Allied troops in the Normandy invasion. Gellhorn pretended to be a nurse and got on a hospital ship. Hear an excerpt of her article that was published in the same issue as Hemingway's.

Military Romance (01:21)

Gellhorn's lost her accreditation after reporting on D-Day. She used charm to access other European fronts, and had an affair with 82nd Airborne Division commander Gen. Gavin.

Dachau Concentration Camp (03:07)

In 1945, Gellhorn accompanied the U.S. Army to the concentration camp—an experience that compelled her to take a break from war. Gellhorn returned to America to write a novel, but was more successful at journalism.

Motherhood and Domesticity (03:01)

Gellhorn bought a house in Mexico and adopted a boy named Sandy from an Italian orphanage at age 40. She married Tom Matthews, former Time Magazine editor, and was happy for a while but grew restless.

Vietnam War (03:00)

Gellhorn divorced Matthews and her relationship with Sandy deteriorated. Outraged at U.S. foreign policy and military strategies in Southeast Asia, Gellhorn contracted with a British newspaper to report from the front.

Criticizing American Foreign Policy (02:25)

Gellhorn arrived in Saigon in 1966 and interviewed napalm victims. She found the Vietnam War worse than other 20th century conflicts and felt she was on the wrong side. Gellhorn was banned from the country after a controversial article.

Personal Loss (02:49)

Gellhorn's mother died in 1970, and she entered a depression. She lost contact with Sandy, who had become an addict, and felt guilty about parenting. Sandy turned his life around and later became friends with Gellhorn.

Invasion of Panama (02:40)

In 1989, the U.S. deposed General Manuel Noriega. Gellhorn reported on chaos and looting in the power vacuum; it was her last war assignment.

Final Assignment (04:02)

In 1994 at age 85, Gellhorn reported on the killing of street children in Brazil. She was disappointed in her article and decided to quit, later committing suicide. Gellhorn regretted not publishing a bestselling novel; she was a successful war journalist.

Credits: Martha Gellhorn: Extraordinary Women (00:47)

Credits: Martha Gellhorn: Extraordinary Women

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Martha Gellhorn: Extraordinary Women

Part of the Series : Extraordinary Women
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Grace Kelly, Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn, Indira Gandhi, and Madame Chiang Kai-shek were worshipped, loved and sometimes even feared by millions the world over. These pioneers showed that a woman could be the equal of a man but behind the public success, there was often private heartache and personal tragedy. This series featuring archive interviews and dramatic re-enactments, reveals the price these women paid for their achievements and adversities they overcame to emerge as triumphant, inspirational icons of the 20th century. In this documentary, we follow the career of war journalist Martha Gellhorn, who criticized power abuse and social injustice and championed civilians in 20th century conflicts. Fearlessly accessing fronts in the Spanish Civil War, World War II, and the Vietnam War, she refused to sacrifice her passion for domesticity. A BBC Production.

Length: 50 minutes

Item#: BVL95088

ISBN: 978-1-68272-293-0

Copyright date: ©2011

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.