Osa Leighty was born in Kansas on March 14, 1894. At the age of sixteen, she married Martin Johnson. Martin wanted a life of adventure, and Osa was determined to stand as his equal and share it with him. After several years of traveling around the country, they scraped together enough money for an expedition to the South Seas, where they intended to film the natives in their natural state, not influenced by outside cultures.
Osa Johnson captured the public’s imagination through her films and books of adventure in exotic, faraway lands. Photographer, explorer, marketer, naturalist and author, Osa studied the wildlife and peoples of East and Central Africa, the South Pacific Islands and British North Borneo. She explored then-unknown lands and brought back film footage and photographs, offering many Americans their first understanding of these distant lands.