Johnson, Martin Elmer

Johnson, Martin Elmer,

1884–1937, American explorer and author, b. Rockford, Ill. He left home at 14 to work his way to Europe on a cattle boat, returning as a stowaway. He then joined the crew of Jack LondonLondon, Jack
(John Griffith London), 1876–1916, American author, b. San Francisco. The illegitimate son of William Chaney, an astrologer, and Flora Wellman, a seamstress and medium, he had a poverty-stricken childhood, and was brought up by his mother and her subsequent
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's round-the-world cruise on the Snark, and was the only member of the party to complete the trip. His interest in photographing wildlife and native tribes seen on this voyage led him to make several trips for this purpose to the South Sea Islands and Borneo before undertaking (1921) the African expeditions for which he is best known. His films include Simba, Congorilla, and Baboona, as well as the film of vanishing wildlife in Africa that was made (1924–29) for the American Museum of Natural History. He was killed in an airplane crash in the United States. His wife, Osa Helen (Leighty) Johnson, 1894–1953, b. Chanute, Kans., accompanied him on all his expeditions and was coauthor of Cannibal Land (1917), Camera Trails in Africa (1924), Safari (1928, repr. 1972), and Lion (1929). She also wrote I Married Adventure (1940) and Bride in the Solomons (1944). The Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum is in her hometown.
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