During World War II, Hollywood was at its peak of pitching in to support the US Army and America in its time of need. Some stars, such as Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda and Clark Gable, enlisted, and the ones who could not contributed to the awareness and encouragement of purchasing War Bonds.
Before the age of television, movie theaters were the prime sources to advertise. It was used to its best advantage, featuring short films and newsreels that included America’s favorite film stars advocating their message. One was “All-Star Song Rally” (1943) a 17-minute film consisting of over 70 film stars including James Cagney, Bing Crosby, Bette Davis and Marlene Dietrich appearing as themselves to advertise War Bonds through the use of their talents. When “Desperate Journey” (1942), a film starring Errol Flynn and Ronald Regan, premiered in Libertyville, Illinois, each ticket required a purchase of a $25 war bond.
The attack on Pearl Harbor inspired Americans to do something for their country. And it inspired Hollywood as well. Actors and actresses such as Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth, Humphrey Bogart and Fred Astaire advocated War Bonds which supplied the government with money to buy food, supplies and weapons for the US Army. Dorothy Lamour, co-star to Bing Crosby in “Road to Morocco” (1942) and one of the popular pinups at the time, was responsible for raising $300 million dollars in United Stars War Bonds while she toured the country during the war. At one rally, Lamour’s handkerchief was auctioned at nearly $2,000 dollars. By the end of the war, it was estimated that Bing Crosby alone could be attributed with selling over $14 million Victory War Bonds. Actress Carole Lombard raised two-million dollars worth of War Bonds in her hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Sadly, she lost her life in a plane crash as she was returning to California. President Roosevelt awarded her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom as being the first woman killed in the line of duty for WWII.