The girl in the crash helmet and miniskirt (below) is not the world's first female astronaut. She is Ruth Lieder, our men's-wear reporter, who on the spur of the moment decided it would be fun to try out the same wind tunnel that Olympic Skiers Jim Barrow and Dennis McCoy used to test the new ski-racing suits shown on page 34 of this issue. Happily, trying new things is something that Ruth has enjoyed ever since she graduated from Smith in 1953. About a minute after she left school, Ruth burst through the doors of the Time Inc. personnel department, waving her diploma and expecting to be hired right off as an editorial researcher. She was hired, but as an office girl, which means sharpening pencils, delivering interoffice mail and—if she ever hoped to stop walking 500 miles a week through the halls—learning to type. Ruth says her first paycheck went to the chiropodist, the second for a pair of British walkers and the third for a six-week crash course in Typing I.
A year or so later, when Ruth had gotten beyond typing and was working in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S promotion department, our merchandising representative in San Francisco left. San Francisco? Aha! Ruth volunteered for the job, got it, crammed her belongings into a suitcase and soon was apartment hunting on Russian Hill. When Alex dishing sold the Olympics on the idea of Squaw Valley as the site of the 1960 Winter Games, Ruth was there before the paint dried on the walls of the new ski lodge, helping produce our pre-Olympic ski-fashion story.
Having enjoyed herself immensely at Squaw Valley. Ruth asked for a six-month leave of absence from her San Francisco job and next appeared, 6,000 miles away, at the summer Olympics in Rome. Before she got there, however, she had accompanied Photographer Jerry Cooke through Poland and Russia on a picture story. Except for accidentally running over a horse in Poland and incurring the wrath of the Russian police when they sudsed up a country stream with concentrated shampoo (Cooke was laundering his wash-and-wear shirts), the trip was really quite uneventful.
A few months after returning to the U.S. from Russia and Rome, Ruth was off again—this time all the way across the Pacific Ocean to Hong Kong, where she acted as merchandising-and-promotion manager for The Asia Magazine, an English-language weekly. Then, eight years after she had left New York, she came back to it as president, treasurer, major stockholder and sole employee of Nothing's Impossible, Inc., her own public relations firm. "I did everything for Nothing," says Ruth. "I rented apartments, located maids, produced fashion shows, styled men's wear ads, publicized clothes brushes and even contracted for mariachi bands."
December 18, 1967
After a couple of years she decided she would like to work for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED again. We didn't take her on without thinking about it, of course. First, we asked her if she had had any experience.