Actor Reginald Denny came from a theatrical family. He joined the Royal Flying Corps is 1917 and served as an aerial gunner. His acting career brought him to Hollywood, CA.
His interest in aviation led him to open a model airplane shop in the 1930’s. He established the Radioplane Co. near Van Nuys Airport in 1939, to build remote controlled models.
In 1941 Radioplane Co. successfully flew TDD-1 (Target Drone Denny) for 30 minutes at 85mph. He worked closely with Bendix on the radio equipment, used a deployed parachute and interchangeable parts allowed him to make quick repairs.
The USAAF was dually impressed and ordered 3800 new drones, classified as OQ-2A’s. Then Commanding Officer Ronald Reagan, an old acting friend of Denny’s (later Governor of California and the 40th U.S. President, 1981-89), sent a photographer to report on women war workers at the Radioplane factory.
One young woman named Norma Jean Dougherty agreed to be photographed on the assembly line. She was building the new OQ-3 improved target drone. The camera and the photographer both loved Norma Jean aka Marilyn Monroe. The rest is history.