They seemed to have it all - glamour, power, wealth and adoration. Grace Kelly, Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn, Indira Gandhi, Madame Chiang Kai Shek... they were worshipped, loved and sometimes even feared by millions the world over. These were the pioneers who showed that a woman could be the equal of any man. But behind the public success, there was so often private heartache and personal tragedy. Featuring archive, interviews and dramatic re-enactment, this series reveals the price these extraordinary women paid for their achievements. Yet in the end, they overcame all adversities to emerge as triumphant, inspirational icons of the 20th Century.
Extraordinary Women Previous Broadcasts
Wallis Simpson (Episode #103Z)
KQED 9: Wed, Mar 25, 2015 -- 1:30 PM
Branded a frivolous socialite, a gold digger and even a Nazi-sympathiser, Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American, became embroiled in a deep constitutional crisis when she embarked upon one of the most talked-about marriages of the 20th century. To the horror of the British government and the Royal Family, on 10th December, 1936, King Edward VIII gave up the British throne to marry her. As a young lady, Wallis was a die-hard socialite - and lived for the parties, the champagne, the dances, and the men. But she made bad choices. Her first husband, Win Spencer, was a dashing American pilot, whose drunken rages left her beaten and abused. Her second husband, Ernest Simpson, took her to London where she felt bored and isolated - that is, until she broke into the aristocratic social scene. Wallis Simpson soon caught the roving eye of the charismatic playboy and the future King of England, Prince Edward. With Edward's accession to the throne, the British government and the Church of England were adamant the King could not marry a divorcee. And so, in a move that shocked the nation, Edward VIII abdicated - to marry the woman he loved. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, as they were then titled, were forced to live in exile and endure relentless snubs from the Royal Family for the rest of their lives. But, they made the best of it. It was not the life they wanted but hey had each other. Throughout the Second World War they worked tirelessly for the war effort; they established charitable institutions during their posting to the Bahamas; they created a happy, social life for themselves in Paris in the years that followed, and Wallis became known as one of the world's best dressed women. But, for all that, Wallis Simpson's reputation remained forever tainted - she was the woman who caused a much-loved King to abdicate.
Dr Ruth Westheimer (Episode #112H)
KQED 9: Mon, Mar 23, 2015 -- 11:00 PM
Dr Ruth Westheimer is the world most famous sex therapist, but that is almost the least remarkable thing about here. For she has led many lives. Born to a German Jewish family in 1928, Ruth's happy childhood was shattered when Adolf Hitler came to power and Jews were reduced to subhuman status. Her parents then made the ultimate sacrifice, sending their daughter to safety on the Kindertransport to Switzerland. They would die in the Holocaust. The fate of her parents and her pride in her Jewish roots led the orphaned Ruth to become an ardent Zionist, travelling to Palestine after the end of World War Two, where she was trained as a sniper by the Jewish underground. She was even wounded by shrapnel. But then two marriages led her to the other side of the globe - first to France, and then to the United States - and some of the world's finest universities. In New York she became a single, working mother, before meeting her soul mate, Manfred Westheimer, by whom she had another child.
- KQED Life: Wed, Mar 25, 2015 -- 4:00 AM
- KQED Life: Tue, Mar 24, 2015 -- 10:00 PM
- KQED 9: Tue, Mar 24, 2015 -- 5:00 AM