Mildred Ella “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias was the sixth of seven children born in the coastal oil city of Port Arthur, Texas in June 1911 by Norwegian immigrant parents; little did she know that she would turn into one of the most influential figures in women’s rights and sport.
|Illustrated images of childhood|
Baseball and singing are not this stars only talents; Babe was also an excellent basket player. In 1931 she led an insurance company’s basketball team, the Golden Cyclones, to victory at an AUU (Amateur Athletic Union) Women’s Basketball Championships. Her natural ability as an athlete drew a huge amount of attention by participating in athletics events in the 10th L.A Olympic Games in 1932. In LA she took home the gold medal in women’s 80m Hurdles and Javelin, and although she cleared had the best height of the day in the High Jump, she only earned a silver medal because she jumped in an unorthodox way.
After the LA Olympic Games she continued to excel in sports and became a professional golf player just 3 years after she started to play the sport in 1935. She continued her fight for women’s rights and in 1945 she became the first and last woman to pass the cutoff and advanced to the final in PGA Tour.
After her marriage to George Zaharias she became one of the key members in the founding of the LPGA in 1945. Founding wasn’t enough; she went on to compete in the competition an won the event 41 times.
At the age of 43 she was diagnosed with colon cancer. The sports hero succumbed to the illness in 1955 at just 45 years old. She buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Vermont, and her husband established the Babe Zaharias Fund to help cancer patients.
On Dec 12 1999, at the end of the 20th century, the AP announced 100 representative athletes of the 20th century and there were only 10 women with only Babe Zaharias making it to the top 10.