Monday, November 15, 2010

Hollywood and the USO

Boris Karloff visiting the troops

The USO was founded in 1941 at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide morale and recreation for U.S service men and uniformed personnel during wartime. Centers were established all over the world where U.S troops were stationed and centers popped up at first to provide a safe haven for service men to relax, have a hot cup of coffee and provide injured troops a morale boost while in hospitals from celebrities. The entertainment aspect grew over the next few years from entertaining groups of 500 soldiers while deployed to shows of up to 10,000 soldiers in attendance. Hollywood eager to show its patriotism had over 3000 volunteers from the acting and singing community to come forward enthusiastically to entertain the troops. This blog is to document Hollywood's early contribution to that effort.  

Bob Hope and his fellow entertainers visiting the wounded

singer and actress Frances Langford who toured with Bob Hope for the USO

Bob Hope and Frances Langford together on stage

Bob Hope on stage for the USO in Germany during 1945

Actor and singer Bob Hope is one of the most well known faces of the USO as he spent countless hours touring with his act and along side many big named stars to boost troop morale. Whether it was a small crowd of a few servicemen or an audience of over 10,000 as seen above he was always willing to lend his talent and quick wit. He was honored for his humanitarian work in 1996 by the U.S Congress who declared him the first and only honorary veteran of the U.S Armed Services. He appeared and hosted close to 200 USO shows during his lifetime. 

Hope on stage with Jane Russell

actress Jayne Mansfield and Bob Hope arriving for a show. They toured together in Guam and Japan

Jayne Mansfield arriving for a show

Jayne Mansfield and her figure on stage performing for the troops

actress Ann Rutherford visiting injured servicemen

actress Marlene Dietrich visiting wounded soldiers

Marlene Dietrich in uniform before a performance in Germany

Marlene Dietrich on stage performing for the troops with the USO in Germany

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers rehearsing for a USO performance during WWII

Entertainers arriving for a USO show

Gypsy Rose Lee signing autographs after a show

Judy Garland singing for a large crowd

actresses Kay Francis and Carole Landis in Germany (copyright Life magazine)

Jayne Mansfield doing the twist with one lucky serviceman

actors Martha Raye, Larry Adler and Carole Landis 

actress Carole Landis

Marlene Dietrich having a sit down with U.S military leaders in Germany during WWII (Marlene was born on the outskirts of Berlin Germany)

singer Molly Picon performing 

Marilyn Monroe on stage performing in a dress that recently sold at auction for a large sum. It's dark blue and beaded and was shortened a few inches for easier movement on stage.

Marilyn on stage at the same USO appearance in Korea

Marilyn building morale in Korea

a better view of the crowd of over 10,000 soldiers that came to see Marilyn in Korea

Marilyn visiting military leaders in Korea

Marilyn being doted upon

Marilyn Monroe in Korea

Marilyn Monroe looking fabulous in combat boots and a uniform

for the boys

Bob Hope with dancer Patty Thomas who danced in many of his shows

Patty Thomas on stage with Hope

actress and singer Ann Margaret on stage during Vietnam

Ann Margaret on stage performing in Vietnam

singer and actress Dinah Shore on stage during WWII

Bob Hope and his wife Dolores who was a fixture at his USO shows

actresses during WWII

actress Raquel Welch dancing with the troops in Vietnam

Bob Hope during WWII

Of course the USO has continued on and is still very active today providing support for our active duty troops with celebrities, singers and performers volunteering their time to entertain our brave service men and women.

Dedicated to our U.S Armed Services and their bravery and tireless dedication to keeping us safe.

Thank you for stopping by. You can donate to the USO at their official site HERE.

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