About Martin and Osa Johnson
In the first half of the 20th century an American couple from Kansas named Martin and Osa Johnson captured the public’s imagination through their films and books of adventure in exotic, far-away lands. Photographers, explorers, naturalists and authors, Martin and Osa studied the wildlife and peoples of East and Central Africa, the South Pacific Islands, and British North Borneo. They explored then unknown lands and, through their films, writings, and lectures, brought back knowledge of cultures thousands of miles away.
From 1917 to 1936, the Johnsons set up camp in some of the most remote areas of the world and provided an unmatched photographic record of the wildernesses of Kenya, the Congo, British North Borneo and the Solomon and New Hebrides Islands. Their equipment was the most advanced motion picture apparatus of the day, some of it designed by Martin Johnson himself.
When the young adventurers left their home in Kansas to explore and photograph these lands, little did they realize that they would provide the world with a photographic record of the African game of unimagined magnitude and beauty. The Johnsons gave the filmmakers and researchers of today an important source of ethnological and zoological material which would otherwise have been lost.
Their photographs represent one of the great contributions to the pictorial history of the world. Their films serve to document a wilderness that has long since vanished and tribal cultures and customs that have ceased to exist.
Through popular movies such as “Simba” (1928) and “Baboona” (1935) and best-selling books still in print such as I Married Adventure (1940), Martin and Osa popularized camera safaris and an interest in African wildlife conservation for generations of Americans. Their legacy is a record of the animals and cultures of many remote areas of the world which have undergone significant change.
The outstanding accomplishments and legacy of Martin and Osa Johnson – their films, photographs, expedition reports, correspondence and personal memorabilia – are housed at The Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum in Chanute, Kansas.
|1913||"Jack London's Adventures in the South Sea Islands" (lecture film)|
|1918||"Among the Cannibal Isles of the South Pacific"
"Cannibals of the South Seas/Captured by Cannibals"
|1919||"On the Borderland of Civilization" (10 single-reel films)|
|1921||"Jungle Adventures" (Exceptional Pictures Corporation)|
|1922||"East of Suez"
"Bessie the Adventuress" (single reel film)
"Martin Johnson's Voyages" (17 single reel films)
"Head Hunters of the South Seas" (Associated Exhibitors)
|1923||"Trailing African Wild Animals" (Martin Johnson African Films, Inc.)|
|1928||"Simba" (The earliest surviving Johnson feature film.) Available in DVD format only in the Museum Shop.
"As They Really Are At Home" (single reel film)
|1929||"Highlights of the Johnsons' Travels of the Past Fifteen Years" (single reel film)|
|1930||"Naked Man Versus Beast" (single reel film)
"Across the World with Mr. and Mrs. Johnson" (The Johnsons' transition film between silent and sound film, it opens with the Johnsons showing home movies in theiir New York apartment. Available in the Museum Shop.
|1931||"Wonders of the Congo" (lecture film)|
|1932||"Congorilla" (Fox Film Corporation. The first sound film made entirely in Africa.) Available in the Museum Shop.|
|1934||"Wings Over Africa" (lecture film)|
|1935||"Baboona" (Fox Film Corporation. The Johnsons' famous "African Flying Safari.") Available in the Museum Shop.|
|1937||"Children of Africa: educational film" (single reel film)
"Jungle Depths of Borneo" (lecture film)
"Borneo" (20th Century Fox Film Corporation. This was the Johnsons' last adventure together. It was narrated by journalist Lowell Thomas after Martin's death in a plane crash in California as he was en route to edit and premiere this film. Available in the Museum Shop.
"Jungles Calling" (lecture film)
|1940||"I Married Adventure" (Columbia Pictures Corp. Osa stars in this screen version of her best-selling book of the same title.) Available in the Museum Shop.|
|1941||"African Paradise" (lecture film) Available in the Museum Shop.|
|1943||"Tulagi and the Solomons" (lecture film)|
|1950s||"Big Game Hunt" (television program series of 26 episodes)|