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Original Vietnam War “USO Shows in Association with the Hollywood Overseas Committee” Banner - 53” x 41 ½”

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Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available: This is an absolutely fantastic artifact that crosses over not only into the realm of Military History, but of Hollywood History as well! This is an original stage show banner used by the USO dating to the Vietnam War.

The Hollywood Overseas Committee was founded in 1965 by the Stage Actor Guild (SAG) with the sole purpose of coordinating entertainment for USO Shows. The chairman of the Committee was the 1st Vice President of SAG, George Chandler.

The Banner is made of an artificial silk, double walled material with the graphic on one side. The Banner has four grommets on both the top and bottom of the banner. The banner measures approximately 53” x 41 ½”.

This would be an ideal addition for the Military or Hollywood/ Film Memorabilia Collector! Ready for Display!

USO During Vietnam:
The USO was in Vietnam before the first combat troops arrived, with the first USO club opened in Saigon in April 1963. The 23 centers in Vietnam and Thailand served as many as a million service members a month, and the USO presented more than 5,000 performances during the Vietnam War featuring stars such as John Wayne, Ann-Margret, Sammy Davis Jr., Raymond Burr, Phyllis Diller, Martha Raye, Joey Heatherton, Wayne Newton, Jayne Mansfield, Redd Foxx, Rosey Grier, Anita Bryant, Nancy Sinatra, Jimmy Hawkins, Jimmy Boyd, Lola Falana, George Peppard and Bob Hope. Philip Ahn, the first actor of Korean descent to become a Hollywood star, became the first Asian American USO performer to entertain troops in Vietnam.

In addition, the USO operated centers at major U.S. airports to provide a lounge and place to sleep for American servicemen between their flights. Vietnam historian James Westheider noted that the USO "tried to bring a little America to Vietnam." Volunteer American civilians, who did 18-month tours, staffed the clubs. According to Westheider, "The young women wore miniskirts – no slacks were allowed." Each club had a snack bar, gift shops, a barbershop, photo developing, overseas phone lines, and hot showers.

When providing entertainment, the USO did its best to attract known stars from back home to help relieve the stresses of war. Senator John Kerry recalled how important this kind of diversion would become. He remembered a "Bob Hope Follies" USO show, which included actress Ann-Margret, Miss America, football star Rosey Grier, and others. According to Kerry biographer Douglas Brinkley, "When the Swift finally made it back to the My Tho River, the crew confronted the heartbreaking sight of a huge Navy landing craft ferrying the troops back. The USO show was over." Kerry later wrote, "The visions of Ann Margret and Miss America and all the other titillating personalities who would have made us feel so at home hung around us for a while until we saw three Chinook helicopters take off from the field and presumed that our dreams had gone with them."

But for GIs who saw the show, it was worth it: "We turned to watch Ann perform, and for about two minutes of American beauty, the war was forgotten. Everyone fully understood just what was really worth fighting for. ... The show was fantastic, but the escape the Bob Hope tour provided us in expectation for days before, and after, helped us keep in touch with what we were there for – God, Country, apple pie ... and Ann-Margret!"

The visits by the stars meant a lot to the men and women in Vietnam. "It was not just the entertainment; it meant that they were not forgotten that far away from home," writes Westheider. He adds that the tours made a "deep impression" on the stars as well. Singer and actress Connie Stevens remembered her 1969 tour with Bob Hope, when she decided to go despite the fact she had two children both under the age of two. Today, she claims that "veterans were still stopping her and thanking her for visiting Vietnam over 30 years later."

Similarly, Ann-Margret during a book signing was approached by a veteran who asked her to sign a photo he took of her performing in Vietnam. Although the book's publishing representative for the signing event would not allow her to sign anything other than her book, the veteran's wife recalls:

She took one look at the photo, tears welled up in her eyes, and she said, 'This is one of my gentlemen from Viet Nam and I most certainly will sign his photo. I know what these men did for their country and I always have time for 'my gentlemen.'

In November–December 1968 the Sig Sakowitz troop from Chicago performed over 36 shows in South Vietnam with the USO in: Pleiku, Dalat, Danang, Cam Ran Bay, Phu Bai, Phu Loy, Hue, Natrang, Tan Son Nhut Airbase, Saigon and places in the boonies known only to military intelligence and the lonely soldiers yearning for a taste of home. The troop consisted of Doublemint Twins Terrie and Jennie Frankel, Gaslight Club singer Sara Sue, Comedian Tony Diamond and personality Sig Sakowitz. Shows were also performed with comedian Joey Bishop of the Rat Pack.George Peppard, successful star of stage, TV and motion pictures, arrived in Vietnam for a USO HANDSHAKE TOUR in 1970 to visit the military in the hospitals and out in the "boonies."... He showed a keen interest in the men's mission while they were hungry for news of life back in the "World."... Polaroid pictures were taken by Mr. Peppard's escort officer, autographed, and given to the men.

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