Tom Wolfe wrote of that time in the best-selling 1979 book “The Right Stuff,” a phrase for coolness in the face of danger that has passed into the idiom. He described Mr. Glenn as excessively pious, scolding his fellow astronauts about their after-hours escapades while openly lobbying to be the first of them to fly.
“He looked like a balding and slightly tougher version of the cutest-looking freckle-faced country boy you ever saw,” Mr. Wolfe wrote. “He had a snub nose, light-hazel eyes, reddish-blond hair and a terrific smile.”
Mr. Glenn said he liked the book but not the 1983 movie based on it, in which he was portrayed by Ed Harris. “Most of his account was reasonably factual, although I was neither the pious saint nor the other guys the hellions he made them into,” he told Life magazine in 1998. “Hollywood made a charade out of the story and caricatures out of the people in it.”