Dorothy Lamour, American: Stars Over America (1942)

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Dorothy Lamour portrait 1942

Dorothy Lamour, American

Madison Square Garden was packed to the guards. It was the final night of the thirty-day stretch of bond-selling for Stars Over America.

An A.W.V.S. escort carried Dorothy Lamour and her party safely through to the section where the stars were lining up for their stint on the great platform. I, as your reporter, was there with Dorothy to tell you firsthand what happens to a star selling Bonds.

Dorothy Lamour 1942Out of the galaxy of great names — Paulette Goddard, Myrna Loy, Joan Blondell, Veronica Lake, Jinx Falkenburg, William Gargan, Burgess Meredith, Pat O’Brien and a host of others — Edward Arnold, master of ceremonies, called, “Dottie Lamour!” And as Dorothy stepped across the giant stage the crowd gave a long and appreciative whistle. The selling began and wound up with Dottie minus one more sarong to the tune of $10,000.

As she stepped down from the platform into the teeming crowd, I said to her, “After this, you’ll have to rest up in a hospital.”

“Oh, no I won’t,” she answered quickly. “My job has only just begun.”

Just begun! After twelve days of whirlwind Bondstorming in which she made a hundred and five speeches and sold in excess of $35,000,000 in Bonds! After having been the one herself to start this whole gigantic campaign of stars as Bond salesmen to America!

For it was Dorothy who, just three days after the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor and the Honolulu she loved, pointed the way single-handed. She couldn’t carry a gun, but she did have a name. She’d make that name help Uncle Sam sell his all-important Bonds.

The evolution of this new person who was once Dorothy Lamour, the sarong queen, is one of the most impressive I have ever known. She is an object lesson to every one of us. Why? She has no great oratory to offer the crowd. She doesn’t use a prepared speech whipped up by some brilliant publicist. She doesn’t dance, tell jokes or sing. (“Heavens,” laughs Dottie, “if I did, maybe they wouldn’t buy Bonds!”)

She hasn’t even evolved any trick, sure-fire selling slogans. She just talks–talks straight from the shoulder with a ringing sincerity that reaches down into the hearts of her audience and pulls out Bonds.

“I’m asking you to give your money — at a good profit — for the eyesight, the legs, the arms, the very lives of the men who are fighting for you. That’s a pretty easy exchange. Come on, now. Who’ll buy a Bond?” And so it goes across the country. A man in Massachusetts says, “I will! I just lost my boy.” Dottie hurries him to the microphone and asks him to tell the crowd just that. A hundred other volunteers follow.

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A blacksmith in Maine takes a $1,000 Bond. An office girl in Illinois takes another $1,000 Bond. A little old lady in Indiana takes two dollars worth of stamps, a most precious offering. She’s living on relief because her two sons are in the service and she’s too old to work. In Portsmouth, Maine, sixty solemn boys are sworn into the Navy on the stage where Dottie is appearing. When she calls for Bond buyers, three of them are the first to raise their hands. Afterward, they pass the hat among themselves to buy her a present.

These are the things that make America. These are the things the Japs didn’t bargain for at Pearl Harbor, where they made a great American of Dorothy Lamour.

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