Friday, May 27, 2011

Air Hostess with the Mostess! ABC's New Show Pan Am and Charlton's Tri-Am Saga

ABC recently announced a new 1960s-set television show for next season starring the glamorous stewardesses of Pan Am! As a huge fan of Mad Men and all things 1960s, I think it looks terrific!

Watch the trailer for Pan Am

Romance comics were full of stories of career girls. Becoming a stewardesses (or air hostesses) as they were called back then, was a viable career option for the young, single gal looking to broaden her horizons and earn some money before settling down. This story, "Rendevous on Cloud 9" [sic] from Career Girl Romances #47 (October 1968) tells the story of one such young stewardess, Tessa Clark. The story is narrated throughout by Ms. Lydia Chalmers Drew, the Supervisor of Stewardesses for Tri-Am Airlines (obviously a play on Pan Am).

Tessa has yearned to have a career in air travel since childhood. She follows her dreams by graduating at the top of her high school class and working for Tri-Am part time while taking college courses -- something Ms. Drew recommended to her from the beginning.

After training and graduation, Tessa is assigned to Tri-Am's Paris flight with the handsome (and slightly cocky) young pilot, Sam Bollard. Once they arrive in Paris, Tessa goes off on her own to explore the city. She is followed by a creepy local named Pierre, who starts harassing her on top of the Eiffel Tower. Having been unable to get Tessa out of his mind, Sam miraculously appears and tells Pierre to scram.

Sam apologizes for his cold behavior during Tessa's first flight and asks her out to a romantic dinner to make up for it. They have a wonderful time as evidenced by this wonderfully hilarious (and stern) panel.

The lovebirds break all of Tri-Am's rules and continue to see each other -- dining, dancing and dating their way all over the world. One day while on a flight to Karachi, Pakistan, an engine on the aircraft goes out.

The piloting team grounds the plane and put out the flames that have engulfed the craft, while Tessa clears out the passengers. Afterwards, shaken from the ordeal, Tessa and Sam embrace. They both declare they do not want the other flying anymore, but Sam refuses to give up his career. Once back home, Tessa gives her letter of resignation to Ms. Drew -- who thinks Tessa is making a big mistake. Ms. Drew puts her on the inactive list anyhow, and a month passes. During her time off, Tessa becomes depressed and Sam's work performance declines. Tessa decides to give her career one more shot and Ms. Drew puts her on the next flight to Karachi.

"In Karachi, the Eastbound TAA flight
meets the Westbound...

As soon as the plane lands, Tessa runs into Sam's arms -- effectively ending her tenure as a career girl and cementing her role as a woman of the domestic realm. Remember, marriage was a no-no for ladies of the sky throughout the 1960s!

No doubt the characters of ABC's Pan Am will be similar to Tessa, Sam and Ms. Drew from this comic book romance tale!

Have a wonderful
Memorial Day weekend!!!


  1. Sadly the video link is not available outside of the US.. but just saw the pilot on youtube instead. As a big fan of Mad Man, Christina Ricci, Pan Am, 60s (as well as the romance comics) it looks great. Only hope it will be shown here in the UK (Sky Living? FX ?)

  2. Looks like Colletta inks. Career girls were big at Charlton, unlike the other companies. I wonder why?

    I love Mad Men too, so more shows set in that era can only be a good thing.

  3. Andrew: Sorry it didn't work for ya! I am hoping I will be able to watch it as well since by Fall I will be in Europe too. NBC's "The Playboy Club" also looks good for fans of the '60s!

    Allan: My favorite Charlton title is Career Girl Romances -- maybe since they had a whole title devoted to the working gal it was on the forefront of their minds?

  4. Just noticed something ... in the scanned page of Tessa graduating "stewardess school" she calls Ms. Drew "Mrs.", but marriage means no flying! "Ms." Drew a widow?? ;p Prolly just an uncaught typo!

  5. That is curious, anthemsong. I wonder if "instructor" type women were allowed to marry if their flying days were over and were relegated to just training new recruits? I might have to do some research on this.

    1. I think its safe to say that as a rule, its always preferable that women in authority are married for the obvious reasons. A woman cant be successful and have an authoritative position at the same time unless she's married can she? Like any rule there are exceptions. As far as unmarried stewardesses goes, that was pretty much the domain of American carriers as I knew a number of Lufthansa, Aeroflot, and Sabena stewardesses who were married.