Zoe Dell Nutter – American icon

Zoe Dell Nutter – American icon

Zoe Dell Lantis Nutter

I was invited to a special weekend down in San Francisco to interview an American icon, Zoe Dell Lantis Nutter. Zoe Dell was being honored for her role as the original “Pirate Girl” or “Theme Girl” of the Golden Gate International Exposition which occured at Treasure Island in San Francisco in 1939-1940.
Zoe Dell Lantis Nutter has led an interesting life. She was originally a dancer from Oregon who grew up in the timber falling industry just west of Portland. During the Depression her father lost his lumber mills and the family moved down to Medford. Zoe Dell always has been drawn to the Ballet, and she loved dancing. Eventually she broke away from the family and moved down to the wild town of San Francisco, where she instantly got multiple offers to dance in the vaudeville chorus lines. One day she was approached by the promoters of the new Golden Gate Exposition to be held at Treasure Island. They wanted her to help promote the new aviation industry. At that time most people were afraid of flying. Zoe Dell became the infamous “Pirate Girl” and started travelling all across America, meeting every Governor and Mayor she could find. One day the Governor LaGuardia of New York said he wouldn’t be seen in a picture with Zoe Dell unless she wore a coat, and the national press picked up on the story and instantly Zoe Dell was the “most photographed woman in the world.” Her picture was published in every major newspaper and magazine, including Life Magazine. During World War II Zoe Dell volunteered for the USO show circuit and returned to dancing. She had a short career in Hollywood. Eventually Zoe Dell started working for the Piper organization, promoting family aviation. She eventually learned to fly herself, and she became a major promoter of bringing women into aviation. She travelled all across America promoting the new Piper Cubs and other aircraft. In later years, Zoe Dell became involved and led the formation of the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio. Recently Zoe Dell was recognized as a Living Legend of Aviation by the Kiddee Hawk Foundation.

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