For Continental's 75th Anniversary: Five Not-So-Great Highlights
It's "The Blue Skyway" design from 1947, in case you're interested, and was chosen by current and retired employees in a poll. We would have gone for a 1970s look that included hot pants, but we had no vote.
Continental is the only major airline based in Houston, of course, so we should honor its Diamond Jubilee.
To do so, here are five facts you might not know about Continental.
1. Continental was the first major American airline to hire a black pilot. Marlon Green , an Air Force vet, had been rejected by 10 other airlines before Continental hired him in 1965.
(Stop reading here if you're a big Continental fan.) He was hired only because he left blank the "race" box on his application, and didn't submit the asked-for pictures. He clearly was the most qualified applicant, documents proved, but didn't get the job until he won a lengthy court battle that went all the way to the US Supreme Court.
2. The airline's longtime boss was married to both Ethel Merman and Audrey Meadows from The Honeymooners. (At different times.) Bob Six was his name, and he saw himself as quite the charismatic ladies' man. At the time he married Merman she was one of the biggest names in show business; she quickly learned two things, according to a recent biography: a) Six pretty much saw her as a publicity prop for the airline, and b) Social life in Denver, where the airline was then headquartered, was somehow not as lively as Broadway. The two divorced after seven years. (She then went on to marry Ernest Borgnine, divorcing him after 32 days.)
3. Continental was indirectly responsible for the Airplane! movies. Well, it's a bit of a stretch, but on 1962 a Continental flight from O'Hare Airport in Chicago crashed when a suitcase bomb exploded; it had been carried on by someone hoping to collect insurance for his wife. Author Arthur Hailey used the plot device for his Airport novel and movie, with Van Heflin playing the nervous guy who takes off from a thinly disguised O'Hare with a bomb. The Airport movies, along with the film Zero Hour, were prime inspirations for the Zucker Brothers in making Airplane!