She stunt-doubled for Lucille Ball and Bette Davis. But you probably haven't heard of her.

In an industry run by men, Polly Burson changed the game.

Jeannie Epper is a stuntwoman extraordinaire.

She doubled for Lynda Carter in the 1970s TV show "Wonder Woman," she slid down a 200-foot mudslide in "Romancing the Stone," and she jumped through a plate-glass window at 66 years old.

It’s easy to see why she’s one of Hollywood’s most famous stuntwomen, but where did she learn the tricks of her trade?


According to Epper, it all goes back to Polly Burson, the “Queen of Western Stuntwomen.”

Burson doubled for some of cinema’s biggest stars in an era when men had a monopoly on stunt work.

Born in 1919 in Oregon, Burson was a real-life cowgirl who performed trick riding stunts for audiences across the world, often appearing alongside Western celebrities like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. But eventually, she packed her saddlebags and headed to Hollywood. As she put it, “After rodeoing, stunt work seemed like whipped cream.”

Gif from "True Grit."

But becoming a stuntwoman in the 1940s was easier said than done.

The industry was an “old boys’ network,” and usually, men would don skirts and wigs to double for leading ladies, stealing jobs from their female counterparts.

Couple that with a major wage gap, and you can see why Hollywood stuntwomen were few and far between.

But Burson didn’t back down, and in 1945, she got a job on a serial called "The Purple Monster Strikes."

Playing a villainous Martian, Burson took a dive off a 75-foot cliff, reportedly earning $150 for the fall.

Her next big stunt was for "The Perils of Pauline." Doubling for comedian Betty Hutton, Burson rode a galloping horse next to a speeding locomotive, grabbed onto a boxcar ladder, and pulled herself aboard. She actually had to perform the stunt three times because the director was having so much fun shooting the scene.

Gif from "Perils of Pauline."

Soon, Burson was one of the biggest stuntwomen in the business, doubling for stars like Doris Day, Lucille Ball, Ginger Rogers, Bette Davis, and Sophia Loren.

‌GIF from "Creature from the Black Lagoon."‌

Burson also appeared in some of Hollywood’s greatest films. She made a 60-foot fall from a tower in "Vertigo," she was dragged into the depths in "Creature from the Black Lagoon," and she showed off her riding skills in "True Grit." Occasionally, Burson also doubled for men, like the time she played a Native American horseman in "Pillars of the Sky."

Then, in 1951, Burson became the first female stunt coordinator (aka “ramrod”) for a Hollywood film.

‌GIF from "Westward the Women."‌

On a picture called "Westward the Women," Burson was in charge of all the stunts involving the female crew. While she didn’t have complete control over the movie, this was still a huge step in the right direction. 16 years later, Burson would become a charter member of the Stuntwomen’s Association of Motion Pictures, the first organization to support and champion female stunt doubles.

Despite her success, Burson still faced sexism on the job.

In 1963, John Wayne was starring in a Western-comedy called "McLintock!" In one scene, two female characters were supposed to tumble down a flight of stairs. Even though Burson was working on the movie, Wayne was worried she might get hurt so he used stuntmen dressed as women instead.

‌GIF from "McLintock!

While he meant well, Burson didn’t need to be patronized. She’d taken more risks than any A-list actor, and as she put it, she would keep putting her life on the line until her body told her to quit.

Unfortunately, Burson's career essentially came to an end while filming 1974’s "Earthquake," a disaster movie with some insanely dangerous set pieces.

For one stunt, Burson was hit with 3,000 gallons of water. As a result, she broke a leg and several bones in her face. Even worse, Burson later learned the scene was just a trial run for the special effects. According to author Mollie Gregory, nobody had actually been filming.

After "Earthquake," Burson decided it was “time to quit the business.” While she appeared in a few more films, she spent most of her time organizing horse races for female jockeys, appearing at rodeos, and at one point, sailing from Hawaii to New Zealand on her own schooner.

But while she was no longer part of the Hollywood scene, people still remember her amazing contributions to women on the silver screen.

‌GIF from "Vertigo."‌

In addition to winning the Golden Boot Award from the Motion Pictures & Television Fund, she was also inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame, the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, and the Hollywood Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame.

On April 4, 2006, Polly Burson passed away at the age of 86.

She left behind an impressive collection of jumps, falls, and fistfights, preserved in films like "The Ten Commandments," "Spartacus," and "Some Like It Hot."

Burson also made an incredible impact on the Hollywood system.

She inspired a new generation of stuntwomen and paved the way for future behind-the-scenes stars. For that, we can all be thankful.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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