Osa Johnson nee Leighty
One of the main forces behind the popularity of early safari films, Osa Leighty's interest in travel and photography first materialised on marrying Martin Johnson in 1910. After several years raising funds, the couple launched their first joint expedition to Vanuata and Solomon Islands in 1917. Quickly learning from Martin she became a proficient hunter and photographer, helping on their accompanying film, Among the Cannibal Isles of the South Pacific (1918).
Their partnership produced numerous successful 'exploration come documentary' features but the couple reputedly only started to concentrate on wildlife after receiving a cable from their financers reading, "Public tired of savages. Get some animal pictures."
Best known for their African travelogues, they embarked on their first expedition in 1921. Osa's impressive marksman skills became the hallmark of their work, and in 1928 their popular film Simba was released, including her famous showdown with a charging rhino.
Embracing her adventurous lifestyle, Osa learnt to fly and helped to film the aerial shots that litter their classic 1935 film Baboona. Badly injured in the plane crash that killed Martin in 1937, Osa refused to interrupt the lecture tour they had been conducting and by the end of the year was back filming in Africa.
1940 saw the publication of her autobiography I Married Adventure and in the years that followed she conducted lectures and made various television appearances, mostly reflecting on her and Martin's early work.
Osa Johnson died on 7th January 1953.