Have you ever seen a 6’7” man with a peg leg wearing a legit polar bear fur coat? Well, now you can say you have! This 1947 photo of explorer Peter Freuchen wearing said-coat with his third wife is certainly a sight to see. The crazy thing? This photo doesn’t even capture the unbelievably exciting life Peter led.
So who is the man behind this eye-catching coat? Here’s 10 facts about the adventurous life of Peter Freuchen!
1. Peter Freuchen held many titles.
Born in Denmark in 1886, Freuchen was a world traveler, arctic explorer, filmmaker, cartographer, zoologist, author and journalist. On top of this, he also led the Danish Professional Boxing Federation.
2. Freuchen was somewhat of an on-camera personality.
He even appeared on an American TV quiz show called the “$64,000 Question,” becoming the fifth person to ever win it. Peter later went on to write and star in multiple movies.
3. Peter stood at 6 feet and 7 inches tall – even with his signature peg leg
Peter lost his leg to frostbite, but this didn’t hold him back!
4. Peter Freuchen killed wolves with his bare hands – he definitely knew how to survive the elements
On top of this, he amputated his own toes with a pair of pliers and escaped being buried alive in an avalanche by molding a knife from his own frozen bodily waste!
5. From 1910 to 1924, Peter Freuchen embarked on several expeditions alongside famous polar explorer Knud Rasmussen.
The pair worked together to cross the Greenland Ice Sheet and lived amongst the Inuit people for many years. They established the Thule Trading Station further north than any other trading post in the world.
6. Peter was a proud Jewish man who never attempted to hide it.
He faced any antisemitism that came his way head-on and would confront anyone who dared spread hate in his presence.
In fact, Peter returned home to Denmark and was affiliated with the Danish Resistance Movement during WWII. He was arrested and sentenced to die by the Nazis before escaping and fleeing to Sweden! That’s when he met his second wife and fled to New York City.
7. Freuchen studied medicine at the University of Copenhagen in 1904.
By 1906, he dropped out of school to depart on his first polar expedition, the Denmark Expedition.
8. Peter married three times in his life.
His first marriage ended in heartbreak when his wife, Navarana Mequpaluk, died of the Spanish Flu. His next marriage was to Magdalene Vang Lauridsen, a Vogue writer and the daughter of a Danish businessman. When that didn’t work out, he settled in with his third wife and fashion Illustrator, Dagmar Cohn (as pictured earlier).
9. Freuchen wrote over 30 books about his expeditions
Peter received multiple literary awards for his work. His last book, Book of the Seven Seas, was prefaced on August 30, 1957.
10. Peter Freuchen died of a heart attack in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1957
His ashes were spread outside Thule, Greenland, on the famed table-shaped Mount Dundas.
He was so beloved by Greenland that they named Freuchen Land and Navarana Fjord after him and his wife. Also, the Adventurers Club of Denmark later honored Peter by planting an oak tree accompanied by an Eskimo Cairn near the site of his first expedition’s departure.
Peter Freuchen’s Legacy
Throughout his thrilling 71 years, Peter Freuchen had enough adventures for ten lifetimes. He lived on his own terms and always stood up for his beliefs. Peter Freuchen certainly earned his place as one of the most exciting men throughout history (with a very cool polar bear coat to prove it!)