General Dwight D. Eisenhower (second from left)
Back in the day
Celebrity anglers who wet a line in Wisconsin waters.
Kathryn A. Kahler
Northern Wisconsin’s remote lakes have long been a draw for vacationers from the Midwest and beyond. It’s no wonder that celebrities — politicians, sports figures and TV personalities – were attracted to these out–of–the–way respites from urban life.
Some of the notables included General Dwight D. Eisenhower shown in this photo (July 17, 1946) above with four of his brothers fishing on Pine Lake in Iron County. According to records in the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas, the general (elected 34th president of the United States in 1952), his wife Mamie and five brothers, were personal friends of Howard Young who owned a lodge near Minocqua. Young was a philanthropic New York City art dealer, active in the Republican Party, whose legacy includes construction in 1977 of the Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff. This photo was taken two years after Eisenhower led U.S. and Allied forces to charge the coast of Normandy in Operation Overlord, liberating Western Europe from Hitler’s rule and setting up the fall of Nazi Germany.
Just two days before that photo was snapped and about 20 miles to the southeast, a celebrity of a different sort was endorsing fishing for the Wisconsin Conservation Department on Little Cap Henry Lake in Iron County. "Gypsy” Rose Lee (above), of burlesque fame, was an avid angler who was voted Fishing magazine's "Fisherman of the Year" in 1957. A June 6, 1949 Life magazine article said that "Gypsy, who loves to fish, carries an elaborate anglers’ kit, and whenever the show plays near a river, goes out and hooks fish as ably as she does customers."
Just as ardent a fishing fan and another advocate for Wisconsin fishing was Hall of Fame baseball star Ted Williams. This photo (top left) shows him and well known Chippewa fishing guide, Louis St. Germaine (left). The September 1949 issue of this magazine's predecessor, the Wisconsin Conservation Bulletin, reported "the visiting celebrity landed a 21–pound musky on Lake Pokegema, Vilas County, the day the picture was taken (October 23, 1948). Williams' party fished four days in Lac du Flambeau waters and other Vilas County lakes, and three days in the Hayward area, getting 'keeper' muskies each day."
Williams joined the Boston Red Sox in 1939 and over a 22–year span with the team, won the American League home run and RBI championship four times, won the triple crown (batting average, home runs and RBI) twice, all while missing most of five seasons (194345, 5253) for active military service in WWII and the Korean War.
In 1957, famed radio and TV broadcaster Edward R. Murrow, fished the waters of Belle Lake in Vilas County. The photo on the left (July 1957) was taken three years after the telecast of Murrow's CBS TV news series that led to the censure of Wisconsin's Senator Joseph McCarthy. Murrow gained fame for his radio coverage of Hitler's advances across Europe and the lead up to the outbreak of World War II.
Kathryn A. Kahler is an editorial writer for Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.