Rene Carpenter (Yvonne Strahovski) might have been met with failure when she tried to land a job as a columnist in Thursday’s (July 17) episode of “The Astronaut Wives Club,” but viewers should know that success is in her future.
In real life, Carpenter went on to briefly be more famous than her astronaut husband Scott Carpenter, played in the show by Wilson Bethel. She ended up fulfilling her columnist dreams in the mid-1960s, writing a syndicated column called “A Woman, Still.”
After taking a break to help Robert F. Kennedy campaign for president in 1968, she started co-hosting the half-hour feminist-focused documentary “Everywoman.” In 1975, she then co-hosted Nine in the Morning. At the time, People described it as a “one-and-a-half-hour burst of live interviews, film and occasionally controversial reportage over WTOP-TV, a CBS affiliate, five days a week.”
Though in “Astronaut Wives Club” Carpenter’s prospective editor Carl Butterfield (Gary Grubbs) told Rene he “doesn’t understand why a woman like you wants to write at all,” in real life she managed to carve out a career in journalism. By 1975, People even called her “the Carpenter people are talking about” over her astronaut (by then ex-) husband.
“My background was really nothing except enthusiasm and the ability to interview people and be curious,” Carpenter recently recalled to The Washington Post of her career.
Though Carpenter was let go from her broadcast job during a firing purge in 1976, she’s gone on to have a successful and happy life. The now-87-year-old followed a career at the Committee for National Health Insurance and remarried with real estate developer Lester Shor.
They live together in Colorado, where Carpenter has even kept up with “The Astronaut Wives Club.” She’ll be the first to tell viewers there’s a lot more fiction than fact in the show.
“Every segment of the show is fiction!” she told the Washington Post, expressing her dislike of the series. “Every segment!”
Still, even she must have enjoyed when her TV counterpart told the editor “for everything, go screw yourself” after he wouldn’t give her a job at the paper. What a mistake he made.