Annie Glenn

Annie Glenn
Annie Glenn in 1965.jpg
Glenn in 1965
Anna Margaret Castor

(1920-02-17) February 17, 1920 (age 99)
Alma materMuskingum University
John Glenn
(m. 1943; died 2016)

Anna Margaret Glenn (née Castor; born February 17, 1920) is an American advocate for people with disabilities and communication disorders as well as the widow of former astronaut and Senator John Glenn.

Early life and education

Anna Margaret Castor was born on February 17, 1920 in Columbus, Ohio to parents Homer and Margaret Castor.[1] Her father was a dentist.[2] In 1923, the Castor family moved to New Concord, Ohio.[1] Castor met John Glenn at a very young age when her parents became involved in the same community organizations as Glenn's parents.[3] The families developed a friendship which allowed Castor and Glenn to remain close as they grew up.[3] The pair became high school sweethearts and continued dating through college.[3] Castor attended Muskingum College where she majored in music with a minor in secretarial skills and physical education.[3] Castor was an active member of the swim team, volleyball team, and tennis team.[3] She graduated in 1942.[1] Even though she received an offer for a pipe organ scholarship from the Juilliard School, Castor declined the offer,[4] choosing instead to stay in Ohio with Glenn. Castor and Glenn were married on April 6, 1943.[1] During the early years of her marriage to John Glenn, Annie Glenn worked as an organist in various churches and taught trombone lessons.[3]

Influence during the Space Race

Through the middle of the twentieth century, the Cold War tensions between the United States of America and the Soviet Union heightened.[5] In an effort to boost American citizens' confidence in their government, President Eisenhower decided to become involved in the Space Race and launch Project Mercury.[5] Seven young men were chosen for this space mission. These all-American astronauts were regarded as wholesome heroes and their wives were the picture of domestic patriotism.[6] Annie Glenn was one of the wives of the Mercury 7 astronauts. Glenn and the other six wives formed a tight-knit support group called the Astronaut Wives Club.[7] These women became celebrities overnight and were influential in shaping American identity.[7]

During this time of national anxiety, Americans found security in their values of family, patriotism, and consumerism, all of which were embodied in Glenn.[5][7] During the 1950s, the desire to have a perfect family life was so ingrained in societal values it seemed to Americans a harmonious family life was necessary for national security.[7] There was a quiet but prevalent understanding that women needed to pursue a peaceful marriage as a way to support the United States during the Cold War.[7] American women turned to Glenn, who had been elevated in the media because of her all-American family, as a role model on how to maintain a happy home.[7] Glenn was also an indirect propagator of the American value of consumption. The appearance of the Astronaut Wives in the media was marketed to average American housewives. For example, when the wives wore a shade of "responsible pink" lipstick to a Life magazine photoshoot, the published photographs showed the wives wearing "patriotic red" lipstick instead. The lip color was changed to represent a new, vibrant period in American history. After the magazine was published, red lipstick became a fad.[7] Similarly, while Mercury 7 astronauts were given sporty Corvettes to drive, the wives were strongly encouraged to keep their family-friendly station wagons, which meant that the average American housewives who were following the Astronaut Wives' example also bought station wagons.[7] As a result of Glenn and the other members of the Astronaut Wives Club, women across America were inspired to be brave and of course, to buy the same consumer goods Glenn and the other wives had in their homes.

Annie and John Glenn arriving at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam. 1965

Speech impairment

Like her father, Annie Glenn has experienced a speech stutter throughout her life.[1] As a child, Glenn did not feel hindered by her stutter; she happily participated in activities such as softball, girl scouts, school dances, and choir.[3] It was not until sixth grade that she first realized her speech impairment.[3] It was determined that her stutter was present in eighty-five percent of her verbal utterances.[8] Despite her difficulty speaking, she was able to create and maintain close relationships.[3] After graduating college, Glenn wanted to get a job in a different town but because of her disability, her parents were worried about her living independently.[3] However, Glenn found ways to effectively communicate without speaking out loud. For example, before shopping she would write down exactly what she was looking for and then show the note to the sales clerk when she needed help.[3] At age 53, Glenn discovered and attended a three-week treatment course at Hollins Communications Research Institute in Roanoke, Virginia to help with her dysfluency.[8] After attending the treatment course, her speech was greatly improved, however, she does not consider herself "cured" of stuttering.[1] Glenn was finally able to confidently verbally interact with others.[9] When her husband began campaigning for the Senate, she was able to support him by giving speeches at public events and at rallies.[1] Glenn used her newfound voice to bring attention to the disabled that she knew had been overlooked so often.[10]

Awards and honors

In 1983, Annie Glenn received the first national award of the American Speech and Hearing Association for her meritorious service to those with communicative disorders.[1] In 1987, the National Association for Hearing and Speech Action awarded the first annual Annie Glenn Award for achieving distinction despite a communication disorder.[1] Glenn presented the award to James Earl Jones as its first recipient.[1] She was inducted into the National Stuttering Association Hall of Fame in 2004.[11] In 2015, The Ohio State University renamed 17th Avenue (on its campus) to Annie and John Glenn Avenue.

Glenn is an adjunct professor with Ohio State's Speech Pathology Department. In 2009, the university awarded her an honorary Doctorate of Public Service to recognize her work on behalf of children and others. The department awards the “Annie Glenn Leadership Award” annually to a person that has displayed innovative and inspirational work in speech/language pathology.[12]

Activities and involvements

Organizations in which she is involved include:

  • Delta Gamma Theta Sorority (Muskingum College)
  • The Ohio Board of Child Abuse
  • The Board of Columbus (Ohio) Speech and Hearing Center
  • The Society of Sponsors
  • The Board of Trustees of Muskingum College
  • The Advisory Panel of the Central Ohio Speech and Hearing Association
  • The Advisory Board for the National Center for Survivors of Childhood Abuse
  • The Board for the National First Ladies' Library
  • The National Deafness and other Communication Disorders Advisory Council of the National Institutes of Health.

Personal life

At the time of her husband's death in December 2016, Annie and John Glenn had been married for 73 years and eight months. During the course of their marriage, the couple had two children and two grandchildren. Glenn's children are: John David, born in 1945, and Carolyn Ann, born in 1947.[1]

Portrayals in popular culture

Glenn was played by Mary Jo Deschanel in the 1983 movie The Right Stuff. The film highlighted her stutter, particularly in a scene involving Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. In the 2015 ABC-TV series The Astronaut Wives Club, Annie is portrayed by Azure Parsons.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Annie Glenn". johnglennhome.org. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  2. ^ Ohio State University Libraries, Ohio Congressional Archives
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Glenn, Annie (November 7, 1997). "Interview of Annie Glenn by Brien Williams (Session 2)". hdl:1811/79309. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ "John Glenn College of Public Affairs | Annie Glenn". glenn.osu.edu. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Sambaluk, Nicholas Michael (2015). The Other Space Race. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press.
  6. ^ Hersch, Matthew H. (February 2011). "Return of the Lost Spaceman: America's Astronauts in Popular Culture, 1959-2006". Journal of Popular Culture. 44: 76–77.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Koppel, Lily (2013). The Astronaut Wives Club. New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing.
  8. ^ a b "Annie Glenn: 'When I called John, he cried. People just couldn't believe that I could really talk.'". Washington Post. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  9. ^ MacPherson, Myra; MacPherson, Myra (February 23, 1984). "The Unsinkable Annie Glenn". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  10. ^ Wilford, John Noble (February 13, 2012). "50 Years Later, Celebrating John Glenn's Feat". New York Times Archives.
  11. ^ "NSASTUTTER.ORG" (PDF). www.nsastutter.org. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  12. ^ "Ohio State to rename 17th Avenue in honor of John and Annie Glenn; The Ohio State University". osu.edu. November 5, 2015. Retrieved May 26, 2016.

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