News Flash: Kait Carson is Joyce’s lucky winner. Congratulations, Kait!
Edith/Maddie, here. I’m actually at the New England Crime Bake but happy I can welcome Joyce St. Anthony (aka Joyce Tremel) from wherever I sit. Death on a Deadline, her new Homefront Mystery is out! And she’s giving away a copy to one lucky US commenter.
Here’s the blurb: As World War II rages in Europe and the Pacific, the small town of Progress is doing its part for the soldiers in the field with a war bond drive at the annual county fair. Town gossip Ava Dempsey rumors that Clark Gable will be among the participating stars. Instead of Gable, the headliner is Freddie Harrison, a B-movie star. When Freddie turns up dead in the dunk tank, Irene Ingram, editor-in-chief of The Progress Herald, starts chasing the real headline.
There are plenty of suspects and little evidence. Ava’s sister Angel, who was married to the dead actor, is the most obvious. The couple had argued about his affair with the young starlet Belinda Fox, and Angel was the last person to see Freddie alive. Irene discovers there’s more than one person who might have wanted Freddie dead. As Irene draws on her well-honed reporter’s instincts to find the killer—nothing is what it seems in Progress, and now her own deadline could be right around the corner.
The Hollywood Victory Committee
Thanks for having me back, Wickeds!
In my new release, Death on a Deadline, there’s a war bond drive coming to the town of Progress. It’s scheduled to occur during the annual county fair. The rumor is that Clark Gable will be headlining it, which turns out to be just that—a rumor.
While I took some liberties with the bond drive to fit the story, the Hollywood Victory Committee and the Hollywood Victory Caravan was a real thing.
The committee was started on December 10, 1941, a mere three days after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The idea was to give stars who weren’t in the military a chance to contribute to the war effort. They would do bond drives, USO shows, and radio shows among other things.
The first chairman of the committee was Clark Gable, who enlisted other actors to join in the effort, including his wife, actress Carole Lombard. In January 1942, she died in a plane crash on her way home from a war bond drive. Later that year, he joined the Army Air Force.
Other committee chairs were James Cagney and George Murphy. Hattie McDaniel became the head of the Negro Division, which seems ludicrous now that even the committee itself was segregated.
In late April and early May 1942, the Hollywood Victory Caravan began a two week trip across the country traveling and performing in various cities and selling war bonds. The first stop was at the White House where they had tea with Eleanor Roosevelt.
Stars included Desi Arnaz, Joan Bennett, Joan Blondell, Charles Boyer, James Cagney, Claudette Colbert, Jerry Colonna, Bing Crosby, Olivia De Havilland, Cary Grant, Charlotte Greenwood, Bob Hope, Frances Langford, Laurel & Hardy, Bert Lahr, Groucho Marx, Frank McHugh, Ray Middleton, Merle Oberon, Pat O’Brien, Eleanor Powell, Rise Stevens. Quite a list! In their two weeks on the road, they managed to net over $700,000, which is the equivalent of over twelve million in today’s dollars!
The performers travelled in fourteen train cars and Bing Crosby had this to say about the trip, “In addition to accomplishing its purpose, I think that everyone connected with it had a barrel of fun, despite the adversities under which we lived and worked. There wasn’t a single squawk about anything or any unpleasantness of any kind. If you could have seen our Hollywood Glamour Girls like Claudette Colbert, Merle Oberon, Joan Bennett and Joan Blondell all jammed together, dressing in the ladies’ rooms of auditoriums, doing it cheerfully and laughing and kidding with each other all the time, you’d know what I mean. If any one of them—or any of the male stars either—had been asked to put up with the inconveniences on a picture, for which they were being highly paid, that they endured with a laugh and for nothing on that trip, they’d have walked out of the picture.”
I can’t imagine the stars of today doing anything like that.
If you’d like to read more about Hollywood and World War II, I suggest Hollywood Victory: The Movies, Stars, and Stories of World War II by Christian Blauvelt. It’s fascinating!
Readers: did you know about the Victory Caravan, or about how many Hollywood stars participated in the war effort? Do you have a fascination with a certain era in history that you just can’t get enough of? Do you enjoy reading fiction that contains real life events? I’ll send a copy to one commenter (US only).
Joyce St. Anthony was a police secretary for ten years and more than once envisioned the demise of certain co-workers, but settled on writing as a way to keep herself out of jail. In addition to the Homefront News Mysteries, she is the author of the Brewing Trouble Mysteries and the upcoming Cider House Mysteries written under her own name, Joyce Tremel. She lives in the beautiful Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania with her husband.
Buy links: Death on a Deadline (A Homefront News Mystery #2) (Hardcover) | Mystery Lovers Bookshop
Death on a Deadline by Joyce St. Anthony: 9781639101153 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books
Social media: www.facebook.com/JoyceTremel, www.twitter.com/JoyceTremel
What a fascinating sounding book. I knew a lot of stars were involved in promoting war bonds, but I had never heard of the Victoria Caravan. Thanks for the history lesson. I very much enjoy reading fiction based on real life events. Thanks for the opportunity to win this adventure.
The book was a lot of fun to write!
congrats on your book release. I never heard of the Victoria Caravan but I do recall that several celebrities participated in the war effort.
Thanks, Dru! And thanks for having Irene’s little sister on your blog today!
So interesting! I love watching those films from the Golden Years of Hollywood. The scripts so daffy, the clothes so beautiful, and so many of the female stars were funny and feisty- despite the overt sexism.. The war bond caravan is news to me though!
That era had the best clothes and music.
I had never heard of the victory caravan, but I did know about the USO tours Hollywood stars did. Yes, I do like to read books based on real events! I always thought Cary Grant was so handsome! And I love the style of clothing they wore back then.
I wish those clothes would make a comeback!
Hi Joyce, congrats on the new book. I really enjoyed the first Homefront News book so I’m definitely looking forward to Book 2!
While I knew that many stars helped out in the war effort, I’m not sure that I ever knew specifically about the Victory Caravan.
I don’t know that I am particularly fascinated by World War II, but I do seem to read a lot of books set in that time period.
As for enjoying real events in my fiction, I’m good with it as long as those events are the backdrop for the fictional story.
And thanks for the chance to win a copy!
I’m glad you liked the first book!
Genre perfect cover. Great story description and I read the back story with great interest. It reminds me this Veterans Day what Americans can do when they pull together.
Ah, Clark Gable – the stuff of teen dreams! I loved the post, Joyce. Never heard of the Victory Caravan, but I’m looking forward to the new book.
My mother LOVED Clark Gable! Thanks for hosting me today!
Although I knew several stars were part of the war efforts, I didn’t know about the Victory Caravan. I love how everyone pulled together to support the country during the war. Congratulations on the new book. I loved the first book, and I’m looking forward to read the new one.
I hope you’ll like it!
Your book has a great day for being posted on the Wicked’s blog! Veteran’s Day always makes me stop and think about how fortunate we are that our (my generation) fathers and uncles and aunts all stepped up to serve our country. Best wishes for your book and series! I do enjoy reading about WWII and love the music of that era.
Yes, it’s the perfect day to post! My dad was in the Third Armored Division in World War II.
“Death on a Deadline” sounds like a fabulous book and one I know I’m going to very much enjoy reading it. Love stories in this particular era. It gives a glimpse of a time when my parents met, married and started their wonderful life together. Being an old Army brat of a man that made a career out of the Army, I especially enjoy stories that deal history of the military history. Although the stories are fiction, if the author’s done their homework, we still get that look into that time period and who things were.
Totally agree with you on the segregation part. Having lived through both ways and the transition period, we can only hope and pray that our country learned from their mistakes. It’s also a statement of the times that so many celebrities were willing to go the extra mile and do what they did to help the war effort. It saddens me to think that people in the same position now days more than likely wouldn’t consider it at all if it did benefit them in some way. Can you imagine the caliber of shows those celebrities put on! Wish they had thought to record them in some way so that we could see them now.
Thank you for the chance to win a copy of “Death on a Deadline”. I would love to read and review it and it’s now on my TBR list.
2clowns at arkansas dot net
I think very few stars–at least the younger ones would step up now. The ones who would–Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Joe Montegna–are some who would. They do a lot for veterans.
My mom and dad met on a blind date in 1943 and were married two weeks later. A few weeks later, my dad was sent overseas. Times were definitely different.
Thanks for putting the book on your TBR.
I cannot imagine how I missed this series! What a perfect day for this post. Best of luck with the new release.
I was familiar with the Victory Caravan and with the tragic death of Carole Lombard. My mom was a big fan of movies and actors and she often spoke of going to War Bond rallies and who she saw and met there. There is an energy surrounding WWII and patriotism that attracts me to these stories.
If it was possible to go back in time to this era, I would. I feel such a strong pull to it.
Welcome back and congratulations on the new book. I did know about it because I read a biography, Gable and Lombard, years ago.
I did know about the Victory Caravan. I read it somewhere.
Congrats, Joyce. I can’t wait to read this book. (Don’t enter me in the giveaway.)
Thanks! See you on Sunday!
I have heard a lot about the USO shows, not as much about US based events. I am looking forward to reading this one! Thanks!
I hope you’ll like it!
CONGRATULATIONS JOYCE!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am fascinated with WWII mysteries, which is one of the reasons why I bought the audio version of FRONT PAGE MURDER (which I have not yet listened to, but will do so right after I finish my current book). WOW…I am such a fan of the 1930s’ and 40’s Hollywood, but I confess I was ignorant of the Hollywood Victory and Caravan. Your information and photos are extraordinary, and I am hooked! Thank you for doing this research, for sharing it with us and for offering us readers a wonderful escape from reality. I will share your research and new book with my book club, and I know we will all be very excited to read your series. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! luis at ole dot travel
I’m glad you’re so excited about it! If your book club decides to read either of the books in the series, I’ll be happy to talk with everyone on Zoom.
I just met with Luis’ group on Wednesday, and they are an enthusiastic crowd. Just have your hat ready, Joyce!
When I grew up, WWII was omnipresent. My father served in Korea, but many of my friends’ parents had served in WWII, and every adult I knew had lived through it, whether in the service or on the homefront.
It’s part of our history that has faded with each passing generation. Now, I as watched people balk at requests for some sacrifice during the pandemic, or as they fail to understand the possible results when one country in Europe marches across its border with a goal of annexation, I wish people understood this part of history better. Thank you for the work you do.
It’s sad there are so few WWII around. My dad was 22 or 23 when he enlisted. He’d be 104 now if he was still alive. People today can’t even wear a freaking mask to protect others. There’s no way they’d put up with rationing. I can hear it now: “What do you mean I can only get 3 gallons of gas?”
Thanks for visiting, Joyce! I’m from Indiana, where Carol Lombard was born, so I’m familiar with her equally inspiring and tragic story. I had no idea so many celebrities were involved with the war bond effort, though.
It’s a sad story. Gable was devastated by her death.
I did know about the war bond drives, mainly due to the involvement of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. I love reading about the Broadway of the 1950’s since so many ground breaking musicls happened then. Thank you for the giveaway!
I especially love the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals.
No, I had never heard of the Hollywood Victory Caravan before I read your article today. I had no idea! I enjoy reading fiction about different eras related to either World War I or World War 2. It’s interesting to read about how differently women were treated. It makes me very grateful to be living in a time when women are not treated like second rate citizens!
Congrats on your new release! I enjoy reading fiction that contains real life events. Some of my favorite reads for sure. I’ve never heard about the Victory Caravan until I read your article. Interesting!
Thanks so much for the chance!
The WWII era gave women a lot of opportunities and many weren’t willing to go back to the way things had been. Unfortunately, some are still trying to push women backwards.
I’ve never heard about the Victory Caravan, but I would enjoy reading about it. I really enjoy reading books with a historical setting. Things were so different in those times. Looking forward to reading the book. Thanks for the chance.
The more I read about that era, the more I want to know!
Congratulations on your new release.
Fell in love with this wonderful series from the start.
It was fun following along in Irene’s journey with her during World War 2.
Thanks! I’m so glad you like the series!
I heard about the Hollywood Canteen and the USO shows but not the Victory Caravan. Looking forward to your new book.
Thanks! I hope you’ll like it.
Wow! That was fascinating. I had not been familiar with the caravan up until now. I was of course familiar with the USO tours and the war band efforts of the Hollywood stars. I think that was great!
It was such a fascinating era!
Thank you so much for sharing. Such a fabulous era. I had learned a bit about the Victory Caravan. I enjoy reading and learning about WWII. I enjoy having fiction include actual events. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.
And the winner of a copy of Death on a Deadline using my very unscientific method of eenie meenie minie moe is Kait Carson! I’ll let Edith know and one of you can send me your mailing address.
Yes, I knew about the victory caravan. I enjoy reading historical fiction, so long as it is accurate to time. Back to the now 28,556 unread emails.
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