HBO Documentary Films presents The Lady And The Dale, a four-part series about 1970s larger-than-life trans entrepreneur Elizabeth Carmichael.
In 1974 in the midst of the Middle East oil crisis, a new, innovative automobile promised America high mileage and a low-price tag; its three-wheeled design pointed to a better future. Behind The Dale, was Elizabeth Carmichael, who had previously lived a life evading authorities, claimed to have smuggled arms to Cuba during the revolution and was wanted by the FBI. With several ex-wives and children, she eventually wedded soulmate Vivian Barrett. They and their five children lived on the run from the law for many years with Liz starting her transition in 1966.
As a woman in the 1970s, with her past kept hidden and a new identity as a widow with a business degree, Liz Carmichael founded the 20th Century Motor Car Company and made a name for herself in the male-dominated business world. A savvy marketer, Carmichael claimed that The Dale would be the biggest thing since the Model T and would challenge Detroit’s iron grip on the auto industry.
Her promotional zeal thrust her into fierce public and media scrutiny which uncovered a web of mystery and suspicion about the car’s technology — and her own checkered past. As media attention was heating up and frustrated investors clamoring at her door, Carmichael was arrested for fraud and business code violations before The Dale could even hit the streets.
The Lady And The Dale is a riveting, human portrait of an imperfect trans trailblazer, an industrious businesswoman and a beloved mother whose ambition and unwavering optimism ran headlong into widespread transphobia and media bias. Her life leaves a complicated legacy. Ahead of her time, forced to operate in an unaccommodating world, Liz Carmichael stands as a heroic reminder of the prejudices facing the trans community and as a symbol of untrammeled enterprise and survival.
The series debuts on HBO with two back-to-back episodes Sunday, January 31 (9:00 p.m. ET/PT), with new episodes airing subsequent Sundays at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Watch the teaser: