USO shows Gene Marshall on a USO tour in 1944.
Designer: Doug James
Company: Ashton Drake
Story Card Edit
From July through early August of 1944, Gene performed the most emotionally and physically demanding role of her life...that of a USO/Camp Shows volunteer, touring the perilous Foxhole Circuit to boost the morale of American fighting men on the front lines. She was one of the "Soldiers in Greasepaint", bringing laughter and a bit of home to war-weary men and women while bombs exploded just a few miles away.
The G.I.s loved her. Gene was "Our All-American Girl", the gorgeous pin-up in the black teddy come to life. Their thunderous applause would overwhelm Gene every time the famous comedian USO host would introduce her for their lively opening comedy skit.
To maintain military secrecy, Gene was not allowed to reveal her itinerary to anyone, or tell what units they'd already played to. Her troupe traveled in England and France, performing fourteen shows a week in castles, the back of supply trucks, and on hastily thrown-together stages in the middle of cow fields and combat zones. The soldiers' courage and patriotism made Gene so proud to wear the uniform the studio made for her--not too authentic, so the enemy would realize she wasn't a soldier in case she were captured (several actors had this terrifying experience). Gene will never forget the powerful emotions she felt stepping on the shores of Normandy, seeing the new hope for victory dawning in everyone's eyes. On the plane flying home, she knew these two months were the hardest...and proudest...days of her life.