Virginia Madsen’s character was way too busy with her own steamy love life to care that her husband was chasing after Amelia Earhart.
Last week I wrote that Richard Gere had joined the cast of the Amelia Earhart biopic starring Hilary Swank (yet another big, dramatic Oscar bait turn for Swank in which she dies…she doesn’t survive many movies, does she?), taking on the role of George Putnam, Earhart’s publisher, manager, and eventual husband. Now Variety brings word that Virginia Madsen will play Dorothy Binney, Putnam’s first wife.
Binney, an heiress from the family that invented the Crayola Crayon, married Putnam in 1911. Putnam was introduced to Earhart in 1928, as part of a plan for him to organize and publicize her transatlantic flight. Binney and Putnam divorced in 1929 and Putnam and Earhart married in 1931.
Sounds like Binney would be the most thankless part in the world, right? The poor wife whose husband ditches her after years of marriage to run off with the exciting modern woman, a pilot and a celebrity. However, I did a little digging around and the marriage was already on the rocks because Binney was herself entangled in a steamy affair with a man 19 years her junior! All right, Dorothy!! In a New York Times review of a book about Dorothy’s life, a quote from Dorothy’s journal about her affair reads: “‘The only man I desire, I can’t have. The one who has a ‘right’ (to hell with conjugal rights!) to me, I am utterly indifferent to.” Goodbye, Mr. Putnam, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out to your lady pilot.
Now all we have to do is hope that the Mira Nair directed film, with Ron Bass writing the script, gives Dorothy her due. Madsen must hope so also, because she deserves a lot better role than the ditched wife. I always wondered why she hasn’t had a better career. There are lots worse actresses out there who have gotten more and better parts. Is it just a matter of having the right agent or manager? Got me.