Elizabeth Carmichael’s exploits are well recorded in the new docuseries ‘The Lady and the Dale’. Carmichael was a transwoman who setup the Twentieth Century Motor Car Corporation in 1974. She was interested in Dale Clifft’s car model, which apparently provided excellent mileage: it was like gold dust during the oil crisis of the 1970s. Through her intriguing personality, Carmichael managed to gain media coverage that made the ‘Dale’ car a modern design to reckon with.
Investors pumped in money to the project seeing its immense viability. Unfortunately, the entire marketing strategy and the car turned out to be a duping scheme. In fact, Carmichael was a history-sheeter since her early days as Jerry Dean Michael. She was married to Vivian Barrett Michael, and together they had five children. After the Dale fiasco, Carmichael was relentlessly pursued by the law agencies as well as the media. So, what happened to Carmichael’s family at that time? Let’s find out.
Elizabeth Carmichael’s Wife and Children
Elizabeth Carmichael sired many children in her lifetime. Living as Jerry, she married Vivian Barrett Michael in 1959 and bore five children with her. She was involved in counterfeiting checks and multiple fraudulent schemes that entailed an investigation by the police officials. Carmichael had to change places and lived a life on the run continuously. Her family thus couldn’t settle down. Vivian and her five children had to constantly travel with forged identities and did odd jobs to sustain themselves. When Carmichael came out to her family as a transwoman, Vivian and her children accepted it warmly.
In an interview with People, Elizabeth Carmichael’s third wife, Vivian, attested that she and her kids loved Carmichael as much they admired Jerry. Their children called her “Mother Liz,” and Vivian, just mother. When Elizabeth started her motor company, she would often introduce Vivian as her secretary. Carmichael had created a charade that she was a widower (whose husband worked in NASA) currently living with her five children. As the cat came out of the bag, the whole family had to flee from California to Dallas, Texas.
After relentless pursuit by the authorities, the family relocated to Miami, from where Carmichael was arrested. Vivian reportedly passed away due to health complications in the 1980s during Elizabeth’s evasive life. In the docuseries, Candi Michael, Elizabeth Carmichael’s daughter, had stated that having her father as a mother was a wonderful thing. The transition was efficient for the entire family, and they were able to stay united. In a matter-of-fact tone, she explains that they were trained to live an erratic life as there was a fair chance of sudden departure from their place.
Carmichael had effectively prepared her children to escape the law at a moment’s notice. The family mostly moved around California and The South. When Carmichael was living in Texas under the alias Katherine Elizabeth Johnson, her children aided in her florist business. The constant traveling life later became a problem for Carmichael’s children. Their forged identities have created difficulties while filling in general forms or applications. After Carmichael died in 2004, the family maintained an extremely low profile to evade media scrutiny.
The children were aware of Carmichael’s elaborate scams. In one of the instances in the documentary, Candi recalls that Carmichael had some futuristic ideas that could have been realized if she didn’t walk the path of crime. Despite their harsh and difficult upbringing, Carmichael was known to be a loving and affable matriarch. Elizabeth Carmichael tried to hold together her filial life strongly even in the face of constant troubles.
Read More: How Did Elizabeth Carmichael Die?