Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ann Blyth - DJ on the Armed Forces Radio Service


Seventeen-year-old Ann Blyth became a radio disc jockey for the Armed Forces Radio Service in September-October 1945.

Many Hollywood stars served as hosts, emcees, or contributed their talent in an amazing array of radio variety show scenarios during World War II.  Most of these programs were studio recorded in the U.S., and then the records were shipped to camps and bases overseas for the military to enjoy.

Among the more well-remembered programs are Mail Call, Command Performance, Jubilee, and G.I. Journal.  Ann did guest on Command Performance with Kay Kyser as host in 1946, and was the emcee on Mail Call also in 1946.  I don't know if those programs were preserved. 

However, we are fortunate to have at least two episodes of Purple Heart Album, a 15-minute program, usually hosted by Frances Langford, (though other stars filled in for her from time to time) on which Ann appeared.  You can listen to two shows in which Ann Blyth substituted as the disc jockey/host for Frances Langford, thanks to the Internet Archive.  The programs are in public domain, so feel free to download them to your computers.  First, episode #55, where Ann presents recordings by Tex Beneke and the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Vaughn Monroe with "Rum and Coca-Cola," and others.

Second, episode #56, Vaughn Monore back with a delightful "A Trip on a Greyhound Bus," and other artists.

One notes upon listening to these programs that they were intended for broadcast to veterans' hospitals across the country, and Ann reads requests and dedications sent in by the military patients of these hospitals.  This was her audience for Purple Heart Album.

Undoubtedly, her patter and delivery--soothing, tender, and easygoing, is likely intended by the producers as comforting as much as for entertainment for bedridden war casualties.  She refers to herself as "your gal friend," and "your old school chum."  Her delivery is quite smooth and professional for someone so young, and yet genuine and pleasant.

Ann probably understood more than most of the guest hosts the need for entertainment of the comforting kind for the injured and disabled: she was slowly recovering that year from a serious spine injury she had suffered in a toboggan accident in April 1945, and had spent many months in bed.  By the fall, she was out of her plaster body cast and into a removable steel brace--able to get around and leave the apartment she shared with her mother, but her film career was put on hold for the time being.  Luckily, her recovery period included a gig like this for the wounded warriors to enjoy back then, and for us to enjoy now.



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The audio book for Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is now for sale on Audible.com, and on Amazon and iTunes.


Also in paperback and eBook from Amazon.


Also in paperback from CreateSpace, and from my Etsy shop: LynchTwinsPublishing.


2 comments:

  1. Such a genuine treat to listen to the talented young woman.

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  2. Glad you had a chance to listen, CW. I thought she was quite good. Any program that's spinning Vaughn Monroe platters is swell by me.

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