Carpenter at a press conference in 1962
Rene Louise Price
April 12, 1928
|Died||July 24, 2020 (aged 92)|
Rene Carpenter (April 12, 1928 – July 24, 2020) was the former wife of Scott Carpenter, one of the Mercury 7 astronauts. She was part of the Astronaut Wives Club, and was its last living member. She proceeded to become a newspaper columnist and television personality.
1 Early life and marriage
2 Astronaut Wife
4 Personal life
Early life and marriage
Carpenter was born in Clinton, Iowa on April 12, 1928. Her mother, Olive Loraine (Olson), became one of the first female clerks at the local railroad station. Her father, Francis Mason, became unemployed during the Great Depression. They divorced in 1930, when Carpenter was two years old. Her mother went on to marry Lyle Price, who adopted Rene. She subsequently took on his surname from the age of 12 onwards.
Carpenter graduated from Boulder High School in 1946. She went on to study history at the University of Colorado. She first met Scott Carpenter when she was working as an usherette at a theater. They married in Boulder, Colorado, on September 9, 1948. Consequently, she dropped out of university. In November 1949 she had their first child, Scott Jr., and thirteen months later their second child, Tim, who died at six months while they were living in San Diego where her husband was in flight training. The couple had three more children.
In the late 1950s and through the 1960s the wives of astronauts were treated by NASA and the press as national celebrities; the stress they experienced led the wives of the Mercury 7 to form an informal support group called the Astronaut Wives Club. The Washington Post in 1961 described Carpenter as a "striking platinum blonde." Life ran a first-person feature on her experience during the May 24,1962 launch of Aurora 7. In 1962 Time called her "by anyone's standards a dish." In 1975 People magazine called her "the undisputed prom queen of the early space program."
In 2015 she was portrayed by Yvonne Strahovski in the miniseries The Astronaut Wives Club, based on the 2013 book by the same title.
In 1968 she campaigned for Robert Kennedy. She had a syndicated women's page column entitled A Woman, Still and from 1972 through 1976 was a TV presenter, first with Everywoman and then with Nine in the Morning. She worked for Committee for National Health Insurance.
She and Scott Carpenter divorced in 1972 and she moved with their children to Bethesda, Maryland. She later married Lester Shor, a real estate developer. However, she kept her surname from her marriage to Carpenter.
Carpenter died on July 24, 2020, at a hospital in Denver. She was 92, and suffered from congestive heart failure. She was the last surviving member of the Astronaut Wives Club, after Annie Glenn died in May of that same year.
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