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Program Description

Film and MoreLindbergh is a candid biography of an American hero whose life teemed with contradictions. He was a public man who struggled all his life to protect himself from a hero-worshipping society and a voracious media. He hated the press, yet spent most of his life attracting publicity. He avoided power, yet used his fame to influence world events. He valued accuracy and a sense of perspective, yet his own vision was often flawed and frightening.

After his triumphant solo flight from New York to Paris in 1927, the 25-year-old mail pilot became the most famous private citizen on the earth, but he resisted fame. Unprepared for the tumultuous welcome at Le Bourget outside Paris, two French pilots rescued him from the frenzied crowds--such frantic escapes from the adorning multitudes would be repeated many times during his lifetime.

Forced into exile in England and France after the kidnapping of his son, he continued a close relationship with Dr. Alexis Carrel, a Nobel Prize-winning French surgeon and social theorist. Lindbergh and Carrel were both convinced that democracy was dying and that the wave of fascism sweeping Europe was the key to mankind's future.

Returning to America in 1939, Lindbergh eventually joined the "America First" Committee, a lobbying group where he made a series of speeches determined to keep America out of the war with Germany. Then in Des Moines, Iowa in September of 1941, Lindbergh made a speech that would be his downfall. There were three groups pressing the country toward war, he said--the British, the Roosevelt Administration, and the Jews.

The backlash across the country was enormous. In Charlotte, North Carolina, the name of "Lindbergh Drive" was changed. Trans World Airlines stopped calling itself the "Lindbergh Line." And back in his hometown of Little Falls, Minnesota, a watertower that proclaimed his birthplace was quietly painted over.

Three days after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Lindbergh volunteered to join the fighting, but President Franklin D. Roosevelt refused to have him.

He eventually found work in the war as a civilian aviation consultant for United Aircraft, and in 1944, managed to be sent to the Pacific, where he flew over 50 combat missions against the Japanese.

In the 1950s, President Dwight D. Eisenhower restored Lindbergh to the United States Air Force Reserve, as a Brigadier General. He later won the Pulitzer Prize for "The Spirit of St. Louis," a book that chronicles the flight that made him famous.

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