The United States Postal Service in 2008 will issue stamps honoring five journalists for risking their lives “reporting some of the most important events of the 20th century.” These immortals are John Hersey, George Polk, Ruben Salazar, Eric Sevareid, and Martha Gellhorn. Anyone who has read Gellhorn’s stuff knows that shes deserves the praise. You might also know her as Hemingway’s third wife in his shortest and most disastrous marriage. They fought like tigers because she was tougher than he was and was just as good a reporter and wouldn’t sit home playing the little woman while he got stewed and played with his friends.
My favorite Gellhorn story from the late Mike Reynolds’s outstanding five-volume Hemingway biography is that during World War II, Colliers wanted to send Gellhorn to Europe to cover the action. Not wanting to be outgunned by his wife, Ernesto offered to be Colliers’ European point man, and, of course, they jumped at the chance (can’t blame them), leaving Gelhorn in the lurch. She didn’t take it lying down.
Getting to Europe from the States during the war wasn’t easy if you weren’t in the service, so the only transportation she could find was a ship carrying explosives. Undaunted, she booked herself a birth and made it over. Go, Marty! You can imagine her husband’s surprise when she showed up (especially since he already had his eye on another correspondent, Mary Welsh, who would be the fourth and last—and bitchiest—Mrs. H.).
Could they possibly be the only husband and wife to both appear on U.S. stamps? Good reference question if anyone is up to the challenge.