Iron Eyes Cody, famous for the once well-known "Keep America Beautiful" commercial in the early 1970s, and for movie roles, most notably in "A Man Called Horse," was for years Hollywood's face of Native America. Beginning his acting career in the 1930s, he portrayed the "Noble Indian" in over 100 films, as well as in many TV shows. The photograph is "wow-worthy" simply as an image, but when I learned the full story, the "wow" changed slightly.
Born Espera Oscar de Corti in Louisiana on April 3, 1904, "Iron Eyes Cody" was "100% Italian," according to his half sister in 1996. It is said that he lived as an Indian and was a great supporter of Native American causes, though Wikipedia says this with a "citation needed" note. Cody died in 1999, and despite the subterfuge, he left a legacy in the collective memory of the idealized Native American, though with a big asterisk next to it.
The Iron Eyes Cody "Keep America Beautiful" anti-pollution commercial is shown below.
"Wow Photo Wednesday" celebrates photographs in the Denver Public Library's Digital Collections that have "The Wow Factor" and that highlight the myriad delightful nuggets in our database.