It’s nearly impossible to think back on the World War II without recalling The Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby, and Bob Hope. Both States-side and overseas, at War Bond drives, USO programs (both at home and overseas), popular films, commercial and AFRS radio programs,
A Long, Long Time
is one of 7 OFAM 2023 concerts presented twice:
Evening: Thu, Aug 3, 7:30 pm
Evening: Sat, Aug 12, 7:30 pm
V-Disc and commercial phonograph recordings, canteen performances…Bing, Bob, Bob and Bing, Bing and The Andrews Sisters were everywhere. So how can we resist?
Shirley Andress and her Festival band welcome Siri Vik, Marisa Frantz and Bill Hulings in a fun-packed tribute to these five purveyors of wartime good cheer and good times, checking in first on Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters on Bing's Kraft Music Hall radio program, then at a Stateside USO show, and finally taking a quick journey to the South Pacific to take in a show by Bob Hope's USO Foxhole unit starring Jerry Colonna, Frances Langford, Patty Thomas and Tony Romano on an undisclosed island paradise!
In February 1941, at the urging of President Franklin Roosevelt, the Salvation Army, YMCA, YWCA, National Catholic Community service, the National Travelers Aid Association and National Jewish Welfare Board joined forces to form the non-profit United Service Organization (USO) with the mission of providing morale support for U.S. military personnel and their families by establishing places for soldiers to go for rest and relaxation and organizing entertainment. The USO accomplished the first of these goals by creating relaxation centers close to military bases throughout the United States—over 2,000 in all by the end of WWII, the most famous of which were New York’s Stage Door Canteen and Los Angeles’ Hollywood Canteen, which were made famous by the films made about them.
The USO tackled its second goal by creating the USO Camp Shows, a separate organization founded under its auspices in October 1941. USO Camp Shows organized its service into 4 show circuits: the State-side Victory and Blue circuits presented full-sized shows to large bases and smaller shows to smaller bases; the Hospital circuit sent entertainers and artists (who sketched portraits of patients) to US military hospitals; and the Foxhole circuit sent entertainers, most often in small units of 4 to 6, overseas to entertain the troops on the front lines. The most famous of these, of course, was Bob Hope and his troop, which included Frances Langford, Patty Thomas, Jerry Colonna and Tony Romano. But there were many more—by 1945 over 700 USO camp shows were being performed each day before audiences ranging from 25 to 15,000. In all, through the duration of WWII USO Camp Shows presented 208,178 performances to an estimated 161 million American service men and women.