Overlooked No More: Aloha Wanderwell, Explorer and Filmmaker

“Mary Pickford was her idol — she was movie-crazy all her life,” says Fink-Jensen, who with Eustace-Walden wrote the biography “Aloha Wanderwell: The Border-Smashing, Record-Setting Life of The World’s Youngest Explorer” (2016).

By 12, Idris had traveled unaccompanied by rail and oceanliner from her boarding school in Canada to England, to be with her mother after Hall was killed in World War I.

They moved to Nice, and Idris, at 15, began taking driving lessons from a dashing war hero.

In her unpublished memoir, “The Driving Passion,” she recalled her time in his cherry-red Peugeot, observing “how the confines of a car, its reassuring purr and motion, breeds an extraordinary sense of isolation, intimacy.”

Itching for further adventure, she spotted the ad in The Paris Herald.

With her mother’s permission, Idris joined the crew. Like everyone else in the unit, she dressed in a military jacket, jodhpurs and riding boots.

A New York Times reviewer didn’t think much of the Wanderwells’ first travelogue, “With Car and Camera Around the World” (1929), saying, “the film, for the most part, is exactly what a majority of tourists would take with a motion-picture camera.”

But she evolved as a filmmaker and focused more of her efforts on editing, said Jess DePrest, a doctoral student at the University of California, Los Angeles, who is writing a dissertation on Wanderwell and early female travelogue filmmakers.

Famously, in 1931 she and the Captain traveled to Bahia, Brazil, to search for the explorer Percy Fawcett, who went missing while looking for the supposed Lost City of Z. (They left their son and daughter in the care of Wanderwell’s mother, in foster homes, and, later, with her half sister, Miki.)