Osa Johnsons Fashions

Mrs. Martin Johnson Goes Glamorous

Injured in the plane crash that killed her husband Martin, Osa Johnson was saddled with a large debt and was physically unable to return to full safari mode.  In her recovery, she devoted her time to and made a new career of writing books, going on the Lecture travelogue Circuit and working for Hollywood movie magic powerhouses like Columbia Pictures and Fox Studios.  She was hired as the African consultant for the Spencer Tracy film Stanley & Livingstone  and producers paid her to select film segments from the Johnson film library to use in commercial films like Tarzan.  In the 1950s, she edited this extensive collection of film footage that she and Martin had made during their 26 years of exploring into her own TV series, Osa Johnson’s BIG GAME HUNT that became the first wildlife documentary to appear on US television.  

Of her new career avenues, Osa had a great deal of success playing off her "Fashion Icon" status. She had became famous for her sense of style not on the runways of Paris, NY or Milan…but in Africa, the South Seas, & North Borneo and starring in nine Hollywood features.  She often showcased and incorporated indigenous styles in her own designs, sharing the histories of the peoples she had encountered on her many travels.   In 1939, Osa was named one of the 12 Best-Dressed Women in America.

Below are some of the fashion images we have from collections plus a few articles from our archives.