The relationship between the Military and Hollywood has served each side’s needs for many years.
UNITED SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS (USO)
During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt received requests from six civilian organizations to create a social entity to motivate, boast morale and provide recreational services for men in the armed forces. President Roosevelt founded the USO in 1941, and served as honorary chairman.
The USO was aided by non-USO groups for fundraising, and opened centers and clubs around the world to serve as a home away from home for GIs. It was a place for free breakfast, entertainment, socializing or, to sit quietly and write letters to loved ones back home.
In 1942, CBS started a weekly radio variety show called Stagedoor Canteen. However, in 1943, United Artists, MGM, 20th Century Fox and RKO Studios joined the effort and released films starring some of its highest paid stars. From 1941 to 1947, the USO centers and clubs presented more than 400,000 performances.
In today’s language, the USO was actually a huge social network for military personnel, civilians and movie stars.
WOMEN IN THE USO
The USO centers and clubs recruited attractive female volunteers to serve snacks and refreshments, dance and talk with GIs. Famous entertainers such as Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth traveled over a million miles to entertain the troops.
HONORING MR. BOB HOPE
In 1941, Bob Hope began his legendary contribution to GIs, and it ended with his final Christmas show in 1990 during Operation Desert Shield. In 1996, he was honored for his enormous contribution to the USO, as the first and honorary veteran of the United States Armed Forces.
Mr. Hope, thanks for the memories!