Brains, Beauty & Breeches

Aloha Wanderwell was an explorer, a vaudevillian and filmmaker, a female Indiana Jones, a wife and mother. She visited places no western man or woman had seen before. She was a figure of controversy, self-invention and marketing: The romance that informs her legend is both real and contrived.

Aloha was born on October 13, 1906. Inspired by the fantastic tales she read in her father’s beloved collection of boyhood books, she dreamed of travel, adventure, and intrigue in far-flung corners of the globe. In 1922, when she was 16, she embarked on an ambitious around-the–world expedition led by “Captain” Wanderwell…

Expedition Wanderwell Postcard
Expedition Wanderwell Postcard
Wanderwell Around the World Postcard
Wanderwell Around the World Postcard


Driving Around the World

Aloha responded to an ad declaring “Brains, Beauty & Breeches – World Tour Offer For Lucky Young Woman… Wanted to join an expedition!”, meeting Captain Wanderwell in Paris and securing a seat on this daring expedition.

On their trip they used kerosene for gasoline, crushed bananas for grease in the differential and water and elephant fat for oil in the engine. In India on their round-the-world trip oxen were frequently required to tow the Ford Model-T across mud flats and rivers. In China in 1924, when civil warfare made it impossible to purchase fuel, laborers pulled the car for eighty miles…



  • First woman to drive around the globe. (Wikipedia)
  • Drove 43 countries in a Ford Model-T at age 16.
  • Earliest films of the Bororo people of Brazil.
  • Traveled 380,000 miles to 80 countries in the 1920s.
  • First across India and Cape Town to the Nile.
  • First woman to fly Brazil’s Mato Grosso.
  • Filmed the first flight around the world.
  • Member of the French Foreign Legion.
  • Films at The Smithsonian & The Library of Congress.
  • Women’s International Association of Aviators.
  • Started Work Around the World Educational Club.
Wanderwell II France Postcard
Wanderwell II Ford World Record