CAROL BURNETT

CAROL BURNETT by Tim Sullivan

Today's fierce female is Carol Burnett.

Born in 1933, both of her parents suffered from alcoholism. She was taken in by her grandmother who raised her in Hollywood. She worked as a usher before receiving an anonymous envelope addressed to her with $50 in it. That paid for her first year’s tuition at UCLA.

Carol initially set out to become a playwright, in part because her mother discouraged her from pursuing a career acting. “She wanted me to be a writer. She said you can always write, no matter what you look like.” When she took her first acting class as was required for the playwriting degree, she knew she could never turn her back on performing.

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NANCY PELOSI

By Tim Sullivan

Our final fierce female in the series is Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Born in Baltimore in 1940, Nancy was the youngest of seven children, and the only girl. Both her father and brother served as mayor, giving her an early introduction to politics. She married Paul Pelosi in 1963 and relocated to his hometown of San Francisco.

While raising five children, Nancy remained active in politics, becoming a member of the DNC, and a leading fundraising for California Democrats. She ran for Congress in a special election in 1987, defeating her Republican opponent handily At the time, she was one of just 27 women in the House of Representatives.

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HANNIE SCHAFT

By Tim Sullivan

Today’s fierce female is Hannie Schaft.

Born in Haarlem, the Netherlands, in 1920, she studied law at the University of Amsterdam. After the German invasion, she joined 80% of her peers in refusing to sign a document pledging support of the invading forces. They were all expelled from school.

Hannie became actively involved with the resistance, first by stealing IDs to give to her Jewish friends, and later leading more outwardly subversive acts. She started running operations targeting Nazi officers, seducing them, gaining their trust, and then assassinating them.

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JULIA CHASE-BRAND

From AMAZINGWOMENINHISTORY.com

By Danika Kimball

When Julia Chase-Brand was growing up, women didn’t run. Born in 1945 in Groton, Connecticut, Chase recalls being surrounded by four active brothers, in a time where girls couldn’t run, play soccer, and if they were to play basketball, it was at the half court line. Inspired by local distance runner John J. Kelley, Chase started her running career at an early age.

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MARY PICKFORD

By Tim Sullivan

Today’s fierce female is Mary Pickford.

Born Gladys Smith in 1892, she began her career as a child actor and performer on the Vaudeville circuit. She won her first Broadway role at age fifteen, but the producer stipulated that she needed to change her name to the more mellifluous Mary Pickford. She caught the eye of D.W. Griffith, who hired her for his new silent film production company Biograph. She appeared in a staggering 51 films in 1909 alone.

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MARGARET HAMILTON

Margaret Hamilton graduated from Earlham College in  1958 with a bachelors degree in mathematics and a minor in philosophy. After working teaching high school math and French, supporting he husband as he completed his undergraduate degree, Hamilton took a software development job at MIT in 1960, at the age of 24. During her first year at MIT, the lab she worked in began developing the guidance and navigation system for NASA’s Apollo 11. 

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ADA 'BRICKTOP' SMITH

On August 14, 1894, entertainer Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Virginia Smith was born at Alderson. At age five, Ada made her stage debut in Chicago, appearing in Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

By age 16, she was performing on the vaudeville circuit. Soon afterward, a New York saloon keeper gave her the nickname ‘‘Bricktop’’ for her blazing red hair, unusual for an African-American.

In the 1920s, she was singing and dancing in Paris, where she became friends with composer Cole Porter. Porter supposedly wrote the song “Miss Otis Regrets She’s Unable to Lunch Today’’ for Bricktop.

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KIMBERLÉ CRENSHAW

Kimberlé Crenshaw is a leading scholar of critical race theory, a professor at Columbia Law School, co-founder of Columbia’s African American Policy Forum, and director of their Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, and president of the Center for Intersectional Justice in Berlin.


She received her Bachelor’s degree in government and Africana studies from Cornell University in 1981, her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1984 and an L.L.M. from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1985 where she was a William H. Hastie Fellow.

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JACKIE SHANE

Born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1940, Jackie Shane self-identified as a woman trapped in a man’s body at age 13, though she was referred to as man throughout her career. At the age of 19, she moved to Toronto and began performing, dressing in wigs and makeup, sequins and fur, and infusing her sultry songs and passionate speeches with subversive transparency. 

She began as a drum player and gospel singer in Ohio and Tennessee, landing her first radio spot at age 14. She worked as a performer in segregated “soul tents,” which brought her to Canada.

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CLARA BARTON

Clara Barton was born In December 1821. Barton spent much of her life in the service of others and created an organization that still helps people in need today -- the American Red Cross.
A shy child, she first found her calling when she tended to her brother David after an accident.

During the Civil War, Clara Barton sought to help the soldiers in any way she could. At the beginning, she collected and distributed supplies for the Union Army. Not content sitting on the sidelines, Barton served as an independent nurse and first saw combat in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in 1862. She also cared for wounded soldiers. Barton was nicknamed "the angel of the battlefield" for her work.

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HATTIE MCDANIEL

By Tim Sullivan

Today's fierce female is Hattie McDaniel.

Born to former slaves in 1895, Hattie got her start in show business performing in minstrel shows on the vaudeville circuit.

She moved to Hollywood in 1931 and began getting bit parts in films - almost always as a maid. In 1939, she won the coveted role of Mammy in Gone With the Wind. She and her black co-stars were not allowed to attend the premiere in Atlanta because of Georgia's segregation laws.

She became the first African-American to be nominated for and to win an Oscar for the role. The hotel the Academy Awards were held in that year had a strict policy prohibiting blacks, but Hattie was allowed in given she was a nominee. She was sat at a segregated table away from the other guests.


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MARY CHURCH TERRELL

From BlackPast.org

Mary Church Terrell, a writer, educator, and activist, co-founded the National Association of Colored Women and served as the organization’s first president. Known as “Mollie” to her family, Church who was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1863, lived a life of privilege due to the economic success of her parents, both former slaves.  Her mother, Louisa Ayres Church, owned a hair salon, while her father, Robert Reed Church, was the first black millionaire in the South due to his business and real estate dealings.  Church's parents divorced when she and her brother were young, and her father remarried. 

Church left her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, at an early age to enroll at the elementary school at the Antioch College laboratory school in Ohio. 

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JAMEELA JAMIL

Jameela Jamil is a British actor, model, host and feminist activist. She began working as an english teacher before becoming a television and radio host, making history as the first solo female presenter of the BBC Radio 1 Chart show. 

As a teenager, Jamil suffered from anorexia saying “I was bombarded with a narrative that had no alternative. There were never any women who were celebrated for their intellect ... and all of my magazines were selling me weight loss products or telling me to be thin. Otherwise, I wasn't worth anything.”

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MILLICENT GARRETT FAWCETT

Millicent Garrett Fawcett was born in Suffolk in 1846 to a prosperous middle-class family. Being educated in London gave Millicent a keen interest in literature and education, which lasted throughout her life. A pivotal moment occurred when she was 19 and went to hear a speech by the radical MP, John Stuart Mill. Mill was an early advocate of universal women’s suffrage. His speech on equal rights for women made a big impression on Millicent, and she became actively involved in his campaign.

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MAZIE HIRONO

By Tim Sullivan

Born in Japan, she was raised by a single immigrant mother in Hawaii. She entered politics, being awarded Legislator of the Year in 1984 for her work in the Hawaiian House of Representatives.

She was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1994 and ran for Governor in 2002. After a blistering Democratic primary that she won by 1%, she was defeated by Republican Linda Lingle in the general election.

She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006, where she championed education reform and federal support for family planning.

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RENEE RICHARDS

Today’s Boss Ass Bitch is Renee Richards, famed tennis player of the 1970s, current day Ophthalmologist, and  one of the first professional athletes to identify as transgender.

She was born on August 19, 1934, in New York City, and raised, as she put it, as "a nice Jewish boy" in Forest Hills, Queens.  Her father David Raskind was an orthopedic surgeon, and her mother was one of the first female psychiatrists in the United States, in addition to being a professor at Columbia University.

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JOCELYN BELL BURNELL

Born in Northern Ireland in 1943, Jocelyn developed an interest in science and astronomy when her father, an architect, designed a planetarium. She enrolled in an all-girls grammar school that refused to teach its students science, instead teaching valuable life skills like cross-stitching. After Jocelyn, her parents, and others protested, the school finally began offering a science curriculum.

While earning her PhD at Cambridge University, Jocelyn discovered radio pulsars while working on her thesis project. It is considered one of the greatest discoveries in the history of astrophysics, and it ultimately earned the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1974.

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LADY HELL CATS

Today’s Boss Ass Bitches are the Lady Hell Cats 

Prior to World War I, if a woman wanted to join the military, she would have to join as a nurse or disguise her sex. Some historians estimate that hundreds of women served in the Civil War dressed as men. World War I was the turning point for women wishing to enter the military. At the beginning of the war, there were around 650,000 men serving in the military. By the end of World War I, almost 5 million people, both men and women, served in the military in some capacity.

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