Classic Hollywood #151 – Laurel & Hardy Among Actors On WWII Victory Caravan

Hollywood Stars Support World War II Effort – 1942

Los Angeles, CA – It’s forward march for the Hollywood Victory Caravan. A squad of 22 top film stars and eight starlets who will take a three hour tour variety program to Washington, D.C., and twelve other large cities in the interests of Army and Navy Relief, marches toward their special train in Los Angeles between honor guards of soldiers and sailors. In the squad can be seen Eleanor Powell, Rise Stevens, Charlotte Greenwood, Joan Blondell, Desi Arnaz, Katherine Booth, Pat O’Brien, Frances Langford, Charles Boyer, Fay McKenzie, Cary Grant, Marie McDonald, and Jerry Colonna. In the foreground, left and right, are Stan Laurel and Babe Hardy. April 27, 1942 photo: Acme

The patriotic stars forfeited their salaries for a month to support the Army Emergency Relief and The Navy Relief Society. The goal was to raise to $250,000.

Producer-Director Mark Sandrich noted that the tour would be no joyride. The stars rehearsed for ten days before setting off and would be working ten hour days, everyday on the cross-country tour.

Other stars on the tour included Olivia de Havilland,  Joan Bennett, Groucho Marx, Claudette Colbert, Bert Lahr, Bob Hope, Merle Oberon, and Frank McHugh.

Before television stardom, Ed Sullivan was a syndicated newspaper writer. Sullivan who briefly joined the tour, noted the camaraderie amongst the stars in his June 4 column.

“Most of these luminaries were accustomed to tailor made scripts and fat parts. In our show, dignity and personal glory melted away at the first rehearsal. These stars played bits, peddled peanuts and programs, worked in the chorus, paraded daily, worked all nite, sold War bonds in department stores, appeared gratis at local radio stations to hotfoot the sale of tickets, ate at ungodly hours, and nitely bounced around on a special train that was a blood relative of the train in “Dumbo,” and belonged by right of seniority in a preferred spot at the Smithsonian Institution.

The star dressing room, always a sacred cow in show business, was just a gag with this crowd. The men dressed in one room and the women in another. Once they tried putting the girls in
two rooms. but the gals hollered murder and insisted on being together —they said they had more fun as a group. The men acted like kids of a picnic—they used each other’s makeup. clothes. cigarettes and soap. In general, they acted like a freshman football team on its first trip away from the home high school.”

The tour wound up raising $700,000.

2 thoughts on “Classic Hollywood #151 – Laurel & Hardy Among Actors On WWII Victory Caravan

  1. Kevin

    Always interesting to see Laurel & Hardy in real life — their expressions alone make them look completely different from their onscreen characters. Not to mention the clothes, particularly from the ’40s.

    Reply
  2. Steve from PA

    “a three hour tour…” made me think of one thing right away!

    This is refreshing to see, considering our current day “stars” would and could never pull off something like this.

    Reply

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