Irene Craigmile Bolam

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Irene Craigmile Bolam
Irene Bolam 1977008.jpg
Irene Craigmile Bolam c.1980
Born Irene Madalaine O'Crowley
October 1, 1904
Newark, New Jersey
Died July 7, 1982
Belford, New Jersey (aged 77)
Occupation Banker
Known for Allegedly being Amelia Earhart
Spouse(s) Charles Craigmile (19??–1931; his death)
Alvin Heller (m. 1933; annulled 1940)
Guy Bolam (m. 1958)
Parent(s) Richard J. O'Crowley and Bridget Doyle O'Crowley

Irene Craigmile Bolam (October 1, 1904 – July 7, 1982) was a New York City banker and resident of Monroe Township, Middlesex County, New Jersey.[1][2] In 1970, a book that was soon widely discredited set forth an allegation that she was Amelia Earhart. Bolam denied the claim and took legal action against the publisher, resulting in the book being withdrawn.[3]

Amelia Earhart theory[edit]

In 1965, Major Joseph Gervais was invited to speak at a gathering of retired pilots where he was introduced to Mrs. Bolam by one of Amelia Earhart's 1930s pilot friends, Viola Gentry. Gervais felt he instantly recognized her as an older version of Amelia Earhart, and commenced to research her past. Using Gervais' research, author Joe Klaas documented his assertion in his book Amelia Earhart Lives (1970). Bolam denied being Earhart, filed a $1.5 million lawsuit and submitted a lengthy affidavit refuting the claim.[3] The book's publisher McGraw-Hill pulled Klaas' book from the market shortly after it was released and court records indicate they made an out of court settlement with her.[4] Bolam's personal life history is a matter of public record, but inconsistent photo records of her person prior to the 1940s did not eliminate the possibility she was formerly known as Amelia Earhart. Evidence presented in the affidavit included her 1937 private pilot's license and marriage certificate. According to public record, Mrs, Bolam was born Irene Madalaine O'Crowley, she married Charles Craigmile and after his death in 1931, she married Alvin Heller in 1933. The two had a son in 1934 named Clarence Alvin Heller, but their marriage was annulled in 1940. She remarried to Guy Bolam in 1958. Although Irene Craigmile Bolam was briefly a pilot who claimed to have known Amelia Earhart, her main career from the mid-1940s on revolved around banking and finance in New York. Many mutual friends such as air racer Elinor Smith also knew both Earhart and Bolam.

On Bolam's death, her son, Clarence Heller sought permission to photograph and fingerprint her body, but permission was denied.[5] In 2006, a criminal forensic expert was hired by National Geographic to study photographs of Earhart and Bolam and cited some facial differences that led him to suggest the two people were not the same. A veteran Amelia Earhart historian, Tod Swindell, differed with this opinion, however, averring how an ID placement made by the 1934 born son of Irene Bolam, proved there had been more than one person historically attributed to the Irene Bolam identity. According to Mr. Swindell, one of the 'Mrs. Bolams' had been previously known as 'Amelia Earhart.'

After Amelia Earhart Lives was published in 1970, three additional books were subsequently published that continued to proclaim Mrs. Bolam and Amelia Earhart had physically been one and the same human being. The books were titled, Stand By To Die by Robert Myers and Barbara Wiley (1985), Amelia Earhart Survived by Colonel Rollin C. Reineck (2003), and in January 2016, Amelia Earhart: Beyond the Grave by W. C. Jameson was published. The authors of these books continued to promote the theory that Bolam and Earhart were one and the same, in spite of the above-mentioned facts and circumstances.[6]



  1. ^ "Will the real Amelia...", Time (magazine), November 23, 1970. Retrieved: November 27, 2007. "The woman they name as Amelia is Mrs. Guy Bolam, widow of a businessman and now living in Monroe Township, N.J."
  2. ^ "New Earhart Book Called 'Nonsense'", The New York Times, November 11, 1970. Quote: "Mrs. Bolam, who lives in the Leisure World retirement community in Monroe Township, N. J., said she had met Mr. Gervais, a retired Army major, at a meeting of plane enthusiasts..."
  3. ^ a b Strippel 1995, p. 52.
  4. ^ Gillespie, Ric. "Is This Amelia Earhart?" The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, 2009. Retrieved: January 5, 2016.
  5. ^ Strippel 1995, p. 53.
  6. ^ "New book claims Amelia Earhart was taken prisoner by Japanese during WWII." Fox News, December 30, 2015. Retrieved: January 5, 2016.


  • Glines, C.V. "'Lady Lindy': The Remarkable Life of Amelia Earhart." Aviation History, July 1997.
  • Goldstein, Donald M. and Katherine V. Dillon. Amelia: The Centennial Biography of an Aviation Pioneer. Washington, DC: Brassey's, 1997. ISBN 1-57488-134-5.
  • Hoverstein, Paul. "An American Obsession". Air & Space Smithsonian, Vol. 22, No. 2, June/July 2007.
  • Klaas, Joe. Amelia Earhart Lives. New York: McGraw–Hill Book Co., 1970. ISBN 0-07-035010-8.
  • Strippel, Richard G. Amelia Earhart: The Myth and the Reality. New York: Exposition Press, 1972. ISBN 0-682-47447-9.
  • Strippel, Richard G. "Researching Amelia: A Detailed Summary for the Serious Researcher into the Disappearance of Amelia Earhart." Air Classics, Vol. 31, No. 11, November 1995.

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