Friday, August 14, 2015

Press Release for Our Re-Enactment of Anita's Feat

A Story of a Woman’s Heroism Inspires Today - Happy Birthday Aunt Anita

Contact: Lucianne Boardman 
715/933-2510 or

In honor of Silent Screen Star Anita King’s first female solo drive across America, three sisters celebrate the Centennial of her
historic feat by retracing her trip this September.

Lucianne Boardman, Aleta Beckman Wilke and Heather Pancratz are following in the footsteps of their Great, Great Aunt Anita King by embarking on their own journey from San Francisco to New York City beginning on September 7 and ending one week later in New York. Although only personally known by Boardman, she is hoping her family story can be an inspiration to other young women by creating the story through their blog and photo journal of the event.

Ms. Anita King was born Anna Keppen in Michigan City, IN and orphaned at 16. She and her eight siblings were left to fend for themselves until she relocated to Chicago, seeking employment on the stage and reinventing herself as Anita King. Actress Lillian Russell encouraged Anita to try motion pictures in Hollywood, and soon Anita followed her dream to become a famous actress in Hollywood, starring in more than 19 silent movies, many of them directed by Cecil B DeMille.

Ms. Anita King movies include The Virginian in 1914, followed by The Man from Home (1914) and The Girl of the Golden West in 1915. She appeared in two Cecil B. DeMille films with the soprano, Geraldine Farrar, in the starring roles, Carmen and Temptation, followed by Snobs, directed by Oscar Apfel, and Chimmie Fadden, directed by DeMille (Drew, 2003). In order to sell her as a leading lady, publicists re-created her less than idyllic upbringing without realizing how her personal hardships would give her the strength to drive solo across the newly christened Lincoln Highway with little more than a six shooter and an aviator’s hat.

Because of her relationship with the famed silent film directors, King was challenged by Jesse Lasky and Cecil B. DeMille to be the first woman to drive the Lincoln Highway from San Francisco to New York. In 1915 she accepted their challenge, completing the solo journey without mechanic or security further demonstrating women's strength and courage at a time when women were treated as secondary citizens. In honor of her heroism, her great, great nieces decided to re-enact her journey this fall on the 100th anniversary of her voyage.
Ms. King’s cross country journey was a publicity gold mine for Paramount who dubbed her the Paramount Girl and established a rigorous itinerary for her to meet fans and conduct public events in cities along the way. Newspapers told stories of her defending herself against a coyote attack, changing tires, and completing general maintenance along the way. She began her voyage on September 1, and finished her journey 49 days later at a banquet at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City. Boardman and her sisters hope to finish their journey in fewer days.

As a result of her journey, Ms King used the publicity to start a shelter for runaway girls in Hollywood who found themselves friendless and victimized by the Hollywood machine. This cause was picked up by Constance Adams DeMille, director Cecil B DeMille's wife. “We seek to highlight the accomplishments of our great, great aunt and give her the recognition we believe she deserves,” says Lucianne Boardman coordinator for the trip and oldest of the three. “At this point, we are planning on leaving San Francisco on September 7 and arriving in New York 49 hours (seven days) later. We will make stops along the route at the locations of Aunt Anita’s historic itinerary and hope to increase awareness of her strength as a woman who stood up in a unique time of America's history.” Ms. Boardman remembers meeting her great, great aunt prior to her death in 1963, “She was an amazing woman with amazing stories. I only wish my sisters had a chance to know or meet her!” In the spirit of sharing Ms. King with her sisters, Boardman coordinated this trip and has maintained the energy for this trip for herself and two sisters, Aleta Beckman Wilke and Heather Pancratz, “I can’t believe it’s finally
going to happen! We’ve been talking about this for years and now it’s becoming a reality. I know my sisters and I will have a great time, seeing the heartland that our aunt did 100 years ago. We are going to use this experience to share her story -- a story of hope and strength for people to pursue and achieve their goals.” Anita's story, although obscured in an era of media image-making, can also create an inspiring story for young women today who are seeking to face obstacles in the modern world to make a difference in the world. The
sisters also invite local and national organizations to partner on their historic journey or follow along and hear their story as they share the courage and experiences of their great, great aunt, Anita King, as a woman of courage in their family story, a story worth sharing with others.

For more information view their blog at or contact Ms. Lucianne Boardman at 715/933-2510 or

Drew, W. M. (2003). Anita King, The Paramount Girl Who Conquered a Continent. Retrieved from http://

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