British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Show business at War


Series Name
The March of Time 9th Year


Issue No.
Date Released
4 Oct 1943
Length of issue (in feet)
Stories in this Issue:
  1. 1Show business at War


Story No. within this Issue
1 / 1
The March of Time synopsis: For forty years an industry which has lain close to the hearts and pockets of the American people is show-business. Dozens of periodicals supplement the press columns specially devoted to satisfying the demand for information about every phase and facet of the industry’s life, from criticisms and appreciations of its productions, to stories and articles on the lives and personalities of its stars. ... The March of Time tells the great "back-stage" story of American show-business at war. To provide laughs for men on distant outposts and in the combat zones famous performers travel thousands of risky miles and share the life of the troops in camps from the South Pacific to North Africa. Women stars carry on their work as near the battle line as army regulations will allow. Famous radio shows, Ginnie Simms, Phil Baker, Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone, Edgar Bergen with Charlie McCarthy, play the camp circuit, while, taking its place in the army camps with the more familiar American vaudeville, the traditional Russian Ballet has found itself a new and unexpected crop of devotees.

Day and night, American radio is reaching distant camps with special broadcasts recorded and beamed to U.S. forces wherever they may be. One radio show, never heard by the civilian public, is a War Department programme made up of personalities and numbers specially requested by men actually with the fighting fronts, and beamed to them alone by short wave transmission. Featured artists give their talents willingly and generously. In most American cities a service man on leave can be sure of finding an interesting evening’s amusement free. At New York’s Stage Door Canteen, men on leave rub shoulders with notabilities while they enjoy good food and amusing company; as the Hollywood Canteen a dance with Olivia de Haviland, Marlene Dietrich or Deanna Durbin can be a reality.

In the nation’s military and naval hospitals the great names of screen, stage and concert hall, singly and in groups, are bringing to wounded and invalided men the entertainment which is an integral part of therapeutic care. Providing the relaxation necessary to a fighting man’s morale, though the biggest, is not the only war-time job U.S. show-business has taken on. The American stage, concert-hall, radio and screen are already organised in their every branch to further the war effort. To entertain workers in war industry the American Theatre Wing now sends out complete shows to boost morale and production with fun during the brief lunch period. Outside the theatre, hundreds of millions of War Bonds have been sold as a result of the personal appeal of America’s most appealing personalities, the stars of stage and screen.

The work of the War Activities Committee and the Motion Picture Industry is typical of the enthusiasm of executives and artists for full cooperation with the Government and with the armed forces. Ace cameramen from the newsreel companies are training the uniformed men who will become combat cinematographers for the Army and Navy. Documentary and industrial film makers are furthering the Government’s plan for the visual education of millions of new workers in war industry and for the training by films of the men of the American armed forces. The March of Time has succeeded in rendering a remarkably interesting and amusing account of the entertainment industry’s manifold contributions to the war effort from the cooking of Alfred Lunt to the sighing of Carole Landis.
Researcher Comments
This story was included in Vol.9 No.10 of the US edition.
Music and dance; Cinema; War and conflict; Performing arts; Military
Written sources
The March of Time Promotional Material   Lobby Card, Used for synopsis
Production Co.
Time Inc.

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