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Hollywood Victory Committee from Joyce St. Anthony

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 | Books

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