The world-renowned primatologist reflects on the past six decades.
CBS Photo Archive
Motivated by her passion for wildlife, a 26-year old Jane Goodall travelled from her home in England to the remote forests of Tanzania in 1960 to learn everything she could about wild chimpanzees. A pioneer in primatology, Goodall discovered astonishing new information about the behaviors of chimps — most notably, their ability to make and use tools — by observing them in their natural habitat. Over the course of her career, Goodall founded the Jane Goodall Institute conservation organization, became a UN Messenger of Peace, and served on the board for the Nonhuman Rights Project.
While many journalists, novelists, and filmmakers have chronicled Goodall’s story, director Brett Morgen’s 2017 documentary “Jane” reveals never-before-seen footage buried in National Geographic’s vault for more than 50 years. With the film nominated for a BAFTA (the British equivalent of an Academy Award) on February 18, Goodall curated 13 of the most memorable moments from her career — and explains them in her own words.
B.A. Stewart & J.E. FletcherGoodall Receives a ‘Friendly Pat’ at National Geographic, 1962Goodall began her career under the tutelage of renowned paleoanthropologist Dr. Louis Leakey — as one of three so-called “trimates,” along with Dian Fossey and Birutė Galdikas, recruited to study primates. Leakey felt Goodall’s lack of formal training could be an asset in the field, as she’d bring no preconceived notions or biases. And so Goodall set up camp in Africa’s Gombe Stream Game Reserve in 1960. Her studies quickly piqued the interest of the wildlife publication, which provided research funds and dispatched Dutch photographer Hugo van Lawick to document her work. “In 1962, Leonard Carmichael was the Chairman of the National Geographic research committee,” Goodall tells Foto. “This was one of the first meetings I had with National Geographic after receiving my grant, and I was there to report back to the research committee on my findings.”
CBS Photo ArchiveBinoculars in Gombe, 1965Besides her blonde ponytail and khaki shorts, Goodall's most recognizable field accessory is probably a pair of binoculars. She had to rely on them heavily in the early days, before earning her subjects' trust: "When I first arrived into Gombe to conduct my research," she recalls, "the chimps all ran away from me and I spent hours searching for them!"Bentley Archive/PopperfotoOffice Romance, 1964Goodall and van Lawick’s working relationship soon turned romantic, and the two married on March, 28 1964, in London and had a son, also named Hugo, in 1967. “This photo was taken in Holland at Hugo’s mother’s house, shortly after we were married,” says Goodall. The couple’s 10-year marriage would bear other fruits, including the 1965 National Geographic film “Miss Goodall and the Wild Chimpanzees” (narrated by Orson Welles), which utilized van Lawick’s footage and photography.BettmannPlaytime With Fifi, 1972One of Goodall’s many unorthodox methodologies was to give each chimp a name, rather than a number, as a means of tracking. And here, Goodall flexed impressive creative muscle, dreaming up monikers like David Greybeard and Fifi. The latter was a member of the “F” family, a clan of chimps Goodall would follow for much of her career. “This is dear Fifi, checking to see if I had a banana under my shirt in Gombe,” explains Goodall. “It’s been lovely to see Fifi again from the archival National Geographic footage in this new documentary about my time in Africa.”
Hulton ArchiveAn Unhelpful Assistant, 1974“This is Hugo at work, hindered by a curious baboon,” says Goodall of the couple filming in Gombe. She and van Lawick would end up divorcing that same year, and Goodall would go on to wed Derek Bryceson, a former member of the Tanzanian parliament and director of the country’s national parks. They were married until his death from cancer in 1980.BettmannGoodall Presents at the National Press Club, 1985“I was invited to talk to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., in front of some of the most senior journalists in America,” remembers Goodall. “What makes me smile is that the photo they chose to put next to me, while I was presenting about chimpanzees, was actually a monkey!”NBC‘The Tonight Show,’ 1990“I’ve been a guest of the ‘Tonight Show’ three times and having been interviewed by Johnny Carson, this was the first time that I’d met Jay Leno,” says Goodall. “It was always a privilege to be a guest on this iconic TV show.” Most recently, Goodall taught current host Jimmy Fallon an audible lesson in chimp vocalizations, specifically a variation dubbed “pant-hoots.”
Duffy-Marie ArnoultBetty and Jane, 2009“I met Betty White years ago and this evening in 2009 she kindly agreed to be part of a fundraising evening for the Jane Goodall Institute,” says Goodall of the actress. Founded in 1977, the JGI’s driving mission is chimpanzee conservation. “Betty shares my love and passion for conservation and environmentalism [and] is especially keen on driving awareness of animal rights.”Michael NicholsReading Is Fundamental, 2011“Lavielle was one of the first chimpanzees to come to the Jane Goodall Institute Tchimpounga Sanctuary, in the Republic of Congo,” explains Goodall. “Sadly, Lavielle had been kept in terrible conditions for over six years and my reading to her was part of our rehabilitation process to encourage Lavielle to come out of her cage. She was fascinated by the book but it took us two years to get her to feel confident enough to leave her enclosure.”Alberto E. RodriguezGrand Marshall Goodall, 2013“I was Grand Marshall at the Rose Bowl Parade and they chose me because they wanted to emphasize the importance of the environment,” says Goodall. “It meant getting up at 4 a.m. and was a very busy few days, but was a thrill.” The conservationist was joined in the floral float by members of her organization Roots and Shoots, a youth service program she founded in 1991.
D DipasupilImpromptu Speech at the Equator Prize Gala, 2014Now retired from the field, the 84-year-old Goodall spends some 300 days a year traveling around the world in her capacity as an activist and conservationist, which sometimes means accepting an invitation like this one in New York from the development initiative. “This was a very fun but strange evening because the UN were honoring people working in the field at this awards ceremony, but their headline speaker unfortunately had to cancel last minute. I was having a takeaway with friends and suddenly got a call, and off I went and quickly had to make a speech to a full house of over 2,000 people!”Che Rosales‘Jane’s’ Debut, 2017Morgen’s documentary premiered in September at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. “We received two standing ovations. It was incredible to see the reaction and the positive reviews,” says Goodall, posing alongside National Geographic CEO Courteney Monroe, president of original programming and production Tim Pastore, and Morgen. The film has also earned rave reviews from critics and has won Best Documentary from both The National Board of Review and The Critics Choice Documentary Award.Jay L. ClendeninA Working Relationship, 2017“I first met the ‘Jane’ director Brett Morgen when he came out to Tanzania to interview me,” says Goodall. “When I was first approached to be involved in this project, I had been told I would only be needed for three hours’ worth of interviews. Brett arrived with a team of 24 and three days later, we were still talking on camera! We have such a fun working relationship, and this picture was taken in L.A., ahead of the film’s premiere in front of 16,000 people at the Hollywood Bowl.”