Lot 273: First female photographer for NASA
January 25, 2017
Wells, ME, USA
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Description: [SPACE PHOTOGRAPHY] WILLENE WHISENHANT (1930-2015) she was a renowned photographer who was the first female photographer for NASA. From 1962 to 1965, Whisenhant, who was a native of Texas, was the staff photographer for NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. During her tenure there she shot photos of astronauts, worked with CBS newscaster Walter Cronkite on a story about astronaut John Glenn, and photographed President John F. Kennedy. Growing up in Livingston, Texas, Willene Whisenhant probably couldn't have imagined sipping lemonade on Air Force One with the president. She most likely didn't think she'd be the first woman ordained into an all-male club. And the idea of being the first and only female photographer for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), couldn't have possibly drifted into even her wildest daydreams. Later on, Whisenhant learned that President John F. Kennedy wanted her up front because, as he explained, when he first met his wife, then Jacqueline Bouvier, she was a struggling photographer and no one would give her a break. He therefore wanted Whisenhant to be front and center. That same day, the president asked his men to take the photographer up to Air Force One and give her some lemonade. Offered here is an original b/w vintage photograph of astronaut Gordon Cooper strapped in centrifuge at Naval Air Development Center, Johnsville, Pa. NASA S-63-3978. The photographer writes "Gordo Cooper in Centrifuse" below image. Provenance: from the personal files of Willene Whisenhant, the photographer. Fine.
Condition Report: Fine