Thursday, February 04, 2016


Seventy five years ago today, the United Service Organization was founded by a Quaker woman
Yvonne DeCarlo live in San Pedro
(in her wild, sexy pre-Lily Munster days)
named Mary Ingraham in a response to a request by President Franklin Roosevelt for a program to provide moral support and entertainment for armed services members. (The U.S. would not get directly involved in World War II for another 10 months, but the distant drums of war were getting louder.)

Although the organization was -- and still is -- involved in many activities to help the folks who serve in the military, it's most famous for its Camp Shows -- sending singers, dancers and comedians to entertain the troops at domestic military facilities as well as in war zones.

So today we salute the USO with some videos of some of those performances.

Here's a singer named Frances Lanford (no relation to The Mekons' Jon Langford) singing  "I'll Be Seeing You" on the Solomon Islands in 1944. That's Bob Hope introducing her.

Speaking of Bob Hope, in this clip he introduces four singers -- Dick Powell, Yvonne DeCarlo (yikes! She doesn't look monstrous at all here), Dale Evans (without Roy Rogers) and Danny Kaye. They're playing for sailors wose aircraft carrier is being repaired at the San Pedro shipyards during WWII.

This video features footage of the great Al Jolson performing at USO. The audio however is a radio performance of a song called "There'll Never Be Another War." The video begins with Jolson pitching war stamps. He starts singing about a minute and 20 seconds in.

I guess Jolson was wrong about there never being another war.

Jumping ahead to Viet Nam, here's Bob Hope introducing a "canary" named Jan Daley in Long Binh, Viet Nam. (This would have had to have been 1970 or later because she's singing the theme from Love Story.) Here Ms. Daley mercilessly teases some poor soldier (who doesn't seem to be complaining)

Happy birthday, USO.

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