The above snapshot of screen legend Marlene Dietrich was taken at Los Angeles’ Union Station as Marlene was leaving on a tour to sell War Bonds.
It was donated to us by the late Patricia Williamson of Tucson, Arizona. (That’s a very young Pat above right escorting la Dietrich.) Pat wasn’t the only one wishing her a “bon voyage.” Dietrich came complete with a military escort, no less.
In 1943 Pat, then Patricia Nanette Hawkins fresh out of high school, had been signed up by the Standard Oil Company of California to be a “Chevronette.”These young women were part of the company’s second world war effort.
Pat, who was born on St Patrick’s day when her mother had to leave a production of No, No, Nanette, and a few other compatriots were set up in a booth in downtown L.A., and every afternoon at 4:30 a movie star would arrive to help sell war bonds and stamps.
Pat and the other “Chevronettes” were photographed with stars and other dignitaries and the pictures were circulated nationwide.
Dietrich, of course, was very active during the War, not only selling Bonds but entertaining the troops. She took great pride in her pro-U.S. war activities.
Her unforgettable vocalizing of the most effective anti-war hymn of all time — it was also her nickname, Lili Marlene — as well as her bravery as a German-born entertainer openly and frequently serenading American troops assures her a substantial niche in history. (As do her more than 50 movies — 33 Hollywood titles — spanning 55 years.)
And as busy Dietrich was making war bond tours, she found time to make a few of those films.
And speaking of photographs of Marlene, there are currently in progress two museum photographic exhibitions of note. At Washington’s National Portrait Gallery through April 15 there is Marlene Dietrich: Dressed for the Image on show. In Paris through Jan. 7 there is Obsession Marlene at the Maison Europeenne de la Photographie (MEP). So if you are in either neighborhood, why not drop on by?
As for Pat, she went on to pursue a musical and acting career. She landed a bit part in 1945’s Here Come The Co-eds, a Bud Abbott and Lou Costello comedy that featured Phil Spitalny and his “Hour of Charm All Girl Orchestra, which included Pat. She later toured nationwide with this curious musical ensemble.
Final note: Before her death she confessed that that she had an uncredited bit part in 1939’s musical romantic comedy, Dancing Coed, the film where Lana Turner met future husband, musician-bandleader Artie Shaw. RIP Pat Williamson.