Eugene Luther Vidal
Eugene Luther "Gene" Vidal (April 13, 1895 – February 20, 1969) was an American athlete and aviation pioneer. He was the father of author Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal is an American author, playwright, essayist, screenwriter, and political activist. His third novel, The City and the Pillar , outraged mainstream critics as one of the first major American novels to feature unambiguous homosexuality...



He was born on April 13, 1895 in Madison, South Dakota
Madison, South Dakota
Madison is a city in Lake County, South Dakota, United States. The population was 6,474 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Lake County and is home to Dakota State University.-Geography:Madison is located at ....


Vidal was a versatile athlete. At the University of South Dakota
University of South Dakota
The University of South Dakota ', the state’s oldest university, was founded in 1862 and classes began in 1882. Located in Vermillion, South Dakota, United States, USD is home to South Dakota's only medical school and law school. USD is governed by the South Dakota Board of Regents, and its current...

 (USD) from 1913 to 1916, Vidal was a football, basketball, baseball and track letterman, and was captain of the 1915 football team and 1916 basketball team, leading the basketball team in scoring in 1915 and 1916 and helping the University to the South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference title this year. Vidal transferred to West Point in 1918, where became the captain of the football team.

Vidal participated in the 1920 and 1924 Olympic Games
1924 Summer Olympics
The 1924 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the VIII Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event which was celebrated in 1924 in Paris, France...

, he finished seventh in the decathlon at Antwerp in 1920. He was the first graduate of USD to be on an Olympic team.

He played for the American Professional Football Association's Washington Senators
Washington Senators (NFL)
Washington Senators, also referred to as the Washington Pros or Washington Presidents, was a professional football club from Washington, D.C.. The team played in the American Professional Football Association during the 1921 season, and continued to operate as a football club until 1941...

 in 1921.

In 1922 Vidal married Nina Gore, daughter of Thomas Gore
Thomas Gore
Thomas Gore was a Democratic politician. He was blind and served as a United States Senator from Oklahoma from 1907 until 1921 and from 1931 until 1937. He was the maternal grandfather of author Gore Vidal.-Life and career:...

, Democratic senator from Oklahoma. They were divorced in 1935, after she ran off to marry the wealthy stockbroker Hugh D. Auchincloss
Hugh D. Auchincloss
Hugh Dudley Auchincloss, Jr. was an American stockbroker and lawyer who became the second husband of Janet Lee Bouvier, the mother of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.-Biography:...

. A few years later, in 1939, Vidal married Katherine Roberts.

Vidal taught aeronautics at West Point and was one of the first United States Army Air Corps
United States Army Air Corps
The United States Army Air Corps was a forerunner of the United States Air Force. Renamed from the Air Service on 2 July 1926, it was part of the United States Army and the predecessor of the United States Army Air Forces , established in 1941...

 pilots. He went on to become one of the pioneers in the commercial aviation industry. From 1933 to 1937, Vidal was Director of the Commerce Department's Bureau of Air Commerce and helped found three American airlines during the 1920s and '30s; Eastern Airlines, TWA
The Twa are any of several hunting peoples of Africa who live interdependently with agricultural Bantu populations, and generally hold a socially subordinate position: They provide the farming population with game in exchange for agricultural products....

 and Northeast Airlines
Northeast Airlines
Northeast Airlines was an American airline based in Boston, Massachusetts. They began as Boston-Maine Airways, which was founded as a Pan Am contract carrier on July 20, 1931, by the Boston and Maine Railroad and Maine Central Railroad offering service from Boston to Bangor via Portland...

, along with aviatrix Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart
Amelia Mary Earhart was a noted American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first woman to receive the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded for becoming the first aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean...

 (with whom he had a romantic relationship, according to biographers Susan Butler and Paul Collins). Vidal also formed the New York, Philadelphia and Washington Airway Corporation, an airline that offered hourly round-trip service between the cities, in 1930. He was also an investor in the Boston and Maine Railroad.

Later in life he served as a director of Northeast Airlines and was an aviation adviser to the Army Chief of Staff.

He died on February 20, 1969 in Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...



  • Gene Vidal is in the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame.
  • Vidal was played by actor Ewan McGregor
    Ewan McGregor
    Ewan Gordon McGregor is a Scottish actor. He has had success in mainstream, indie, and art house films. McGregor is perhaps best known for his roles as heroin addict Mark Renton in the drama Trainspotting , young Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequel trilogy , and poet Christian in the...

     in the 2009 film Amelia
    Amelia (film)
    Amelia is a 2009 English-language biographical film of the life of Amelia Earhart, starring Hilary Swank as Earhart along with a cast that includes Richard Gere, Christopher Eccleston and Ewan McGregor. It is directed by Mira Nair based on a script initially written by Ronald Bass...

    , which alludes to his romance with Amelia Earhart
    Amelia Earhart
    Amelia Mary Earhart was a noted American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first woman to receive the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded for becoming the first aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean...


External links

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