In its day (1927-1991), Pan American World Airways was the world’s greatest and most glamorous airline. Under the leadership of Juan Trippe, a real-life version of Marvel’s world-eating Galacticus, it became a business phenomenon, a potent instrument (and shaper) of U.S. foreign policy, and a pop-culture myth-maker. I used to fly Pan Am across the Atlantic, back when the jet set was inventing itself, when air travel was about adventure and unexpected romance. Those were the days.
The show sounds a bit like “Mad Men:” a period piece, set in the 1960s, focused on a group of professional colleagues, in this case pilots and stewardesses, sharing intense experiences.
I went out with the daughter of a Pan Am pilot during that period, and remember what a big shot her dad was: glowing with prosperity and universally admired, not like the downtrodden schlumps who pilot jets today, whose only remaining privilege is to pass us at the TSA line. (That daughter was something, too — more woman than I knew what to do with at the time.)
Pan Am stewardesses were great-looking gals whose jobs required a college degree and fluency in two languages. If they cavorted with select passengers after hours, or fished for husbands, they also had to handle live bullets during touchdowns in Saigon or Kampala. The Pill was becoming available, abortion was illegal, and neither feminism nor political correctness had yet taken hold. Aircraft safety wasn’t what it is today. Foreign countries were stranger then, before McDonalds, Fedex, and the internet. Runways often led to danger.
Ought to be some good stories there.
It’s early yet, but there’s every reason to hope the show will be great. Thomas Schlamme of the “The West Wing” is directing; hard to get better than that. The producers are Nancy Ganis, herself a former Pam Am stew, who produced the admirable, under-appreciated “Akeelah and the Bee;” and Jack Orman, a writer/producer of hit TV shows including “ER.” Co-producing is Sidney Ganis, who made his bones with George Lucas during the early “Star Wars” era, green-lighted “Ghost” at Paramount, was High Deedlebee of motion-picture marketing at Sony, produced a string of hit comedies including “Big Daddy” and “Mr. Deeds,” and recently completed his presidency of the Academy that produces the Oscars.
This better be good, guys. I’m on the edge of my seat, panting with anticipation.