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When Hollywood Came to Greece’s Aid

When Hollywood Came to Greece's Aid

The next is a chapter from “America Calling,” a forthcoming ebook written, researched and edited by Gregory C. Pappas concerning the American response to Greece’s position throughout World Conflict II. In nice photographic element, the e-book will depict the response of the American media, leisure, basic public and enterprise group to Greece’s epic “No!” to Italian invaders and the next Nazi occupation.


It was the “Golden Era” of Hollywood when celebrities like Clark Gable and Carole Lombard occupied tabloid headlines and movies like Disney’s Fantasia and Gone With the Wind captivated the nation.

Shirley Temple, Judy Garland, Bob Hope and Bette Davis have been family names in america and beloved by hundreds of thousands.

And concurrently, World Warfare II was raging in Europe.

Fed continuously by headlines and an occasional newsreel coming from Europe, People had grow to be captivated by the brave and valiant efforts of the individuals of Greece who fought and pushed again Mussolini’s forces, and have been ultimately overrun — however not with no struggle — by the Nazi Germans.

The Superb Greeks win Freedom’s First Victory learn one headline in Life Journal, whereas magazines and newspapers learn by tens of millions praised the fashionable Greeks as appropriate ancestors of their historic warrior kin of Classical Thermopylae and Sparta.

Because of the Nazi occupation and subsequent naval blockade, famine and despair would overcome Greece each in Athens and all through the countryside.

Photographs like these made their means on entrance pages of American newspapers, surprising the American public: Amassing lifeless within the streets of Athens in the course of the first winter of Axis occupation, 1941-1942, close to Stadiou Avenue outdoors the Nationwide Library. (Unique Related Press Photograph from the assortment of Gregory C. Pappas)

In response to the turmoil in Greece, People started countrywide efforts to present humanitarian aid for the Greek individuals.

Railroad magnate Harold Vanderbilt and movie business government Spyros Skouras launched an effort referred to as the Greek Struggle Aid Affiliation a minimum of 10 days after the October 1940 Italian invasion of Greece to present meals and different types of help to Greece.

“Skouras aids Greek relief” on the entrance web page of the Movie Every day.

By no means in American historical past has there been such a unified and large marketing campaign to help a overseas charitable trigger than the help for Greece throughout WWII.

The nationwide effort was bolstered by businessmen, group leaders and an enormous Greek American grassroots community led by AHEPA and the Greek Orthodox Church. Politicians, main faculty college students, companies — and the Movement Image Business — additionally contributed in a serious approach.

In Hollywood, numerous stars, celebrities, studio heads and business heavyweights received behind the Greek Conflict Aid motion, making it the only largest humanitarian fundraising marketing campaign in American leisure business historical past, together with a single organized fundraising marketing campaign by the Movement Image Affiliation of America involving eight,000 cinemas.

Movies like Walt Disney’s Fantasia and Gone With the Wind held gala premieres and opening nights in cities throughout the nation with ticket proceeds benefiting the Greek Conflict Aid marketing campaign.

Main telethons and fundraising occasions additionally happened in New York, Los Angeles and all through the nation that introduced collectively virtually each main A-list Hollywood star on the time.

At Grauman’s Chinese language Theater in Los Angeles on February eight, 1941 — whereas Greek forces have been pushing again the Italians within the Albanian mountains — large radio telethon referred to as America Calling was broadcast on CBS, NBC, quite a few unbiased stations and all through Europe.

Nationwide publicity to promote the fundraising telethon America Calling, with Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Bette Davis and lots of extra a-list Hollywood stars..

The occasion sought to ship a loud message to the preventing Greeks — the individuals of the U.S. are right here, prepared and prepared to assist.

Jack Benny and Bob Hope have been the “co-masters of ceremonies” of the variability present that featured some the most important names of the time together with The Merry Macs, Shirley Temple, Charles Laughton, Groucho Marx and Clark Gable.

*The complete audio file of the telethon, together with dynamic speeches to prime Hollywood stars concerning the valiant and heroic efforts of the Greek individuals is on the market to our Patreon donors. Click on right here to get entry to the telethon by turning into a supporters of The Pappas Submit.

A-list Hollywood personalities participated within the gigantic, all-star Greek Conflict Profit Broadcast. Left to proper: at prime, Charles Laughton, Melvyn Douglas, Reginald Owen, Lewis Stone; and seated, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Myrna Loy, Tyrone Energy, Ann Rutherford, and Fay Holden.

A month later, on March 28, 1941, stars gathered at Radio Metropolis Music Corridor for a gala selection present referred to as “Greek Festival for Freedom” starring Judy Garland, Irving Berlin, Ed Sullivan, the Andrews Sisters, the Rockettes, Danny Kaye and virtually each main New York-based star of the period.

Actress Hattie McDaniel (proper), who gained an Academy Award for her position within the film “Gone With The Wind,” and musical comedy star Carol Bruce (left) have been amongst many celebrities who attended the Greek Conflict Aid profit at Radio Metropolis Music Corridor.

A letter in Movie Every day revealed by Samuel Goldwyn thanked the Movement Image Business for coming via with flying colours throughout a marketing campaign supporting “thousands of women and children in Greece, whose men are defending democracy and will benefit through our industry’s cooperation.”

Goldwyn thanked cinemas all through the nation and introduced that $1,014,450.52 was raised over a interval of 9 months by movie studios from greater than eight,000 cinemas all through the nation.

Paramount Footage founder Adolph Zukor — one of many movie business’s most influential figures — additionally wrote in reward of the business.

“We have collected $850,000, this money was in addition to that raised on the West Coast by a committee headed by Sam Goldwyn. I am confident that our industry raised directly more than $1,000,000 for Greek Relief. We have already wired $500,000 from our division to Athens where it was used to purchase food, clothing and medical supplies so badly needed by the women and children of the gallant little country. I am proud to be a part of an industry that has responded so handsomely in a crisis like this.”

Adolph Zukor

In accordance to Zukor’s archives, cash raised by the movement image business, in accordance to Zukor’s archives “was used to buy medicine, clothing and food for the helpless women and children of that country. A great deal of the money was also used in the evacuation of more than a million women and children before the Axis powers arrived.”

“More than 8,000 theaters participated in the drive,” Zukor continued. “This was the largest number of theaters ever enrolled for a charity drive in our industry, and the amount collected far exceeds that of any similar cause in our industry.”

A full web page advert in Movie Day by day calling on all theaters to help Greek Warfare Aid efforts by legendary movie government Adolph Zukor.

When all was stated and accomplished, the Greek Warfare Aid Affiliation raised $30 million — roughly $500 million in the present day — to present large shipments of grain, gear, livestock and different types of materials help for the Greek individuals.

Hollywood’s position stood out because the catalyst to interact and contain “average” star-struck People who watched their favourite celebrities attending fundraising galas, collaborating in radio telethons and lending their names to the Greek Warfare Aid and finally main them to donate $1, $5– no matter People might muster up on the time.

Did You Know?

Olympia Dukakis, a teenage woman from Lowell, Massachusetts, made her stage debut in a play that raised funds for Greek Warfare Aid. Many years later, Dukakis would go on to win an Oscar and grow to be one in every of America’s most beloved actors.


Walter Winchell, the period’s most listened-to radio gossip columnist, was an enormous supporter of Greek aid efforts who donated his personal cash and inspired hundreds of thousands of listeners to help Greece.

Walter Winchell’s $5000 verify to Greek Warfare Aid (Gregory C. Pappas assortment).

A younger Italian-American singer named Frank Sinatra’s first-ever live performance at Madison Sq. Backyard on Might 18, 1943 was a profit live performance for the Greek Warfare Aid Affiliation.

Frank Sinatra in 1943. The younger singer’s first-ever live performance at Madison Sq. Backyard was a fundraiser for Greek Conflict Aid


At a profit in Chicago, Jack Benny auctioned off his violin at an occasion that netted greater than $20,000 for the trigger.


Dozens of actors who have been employed as salaried staff beneath the “studio system” of the 1940s pledged a proportion of their salaries to Greek Struggle Aid efforts. The cardboard under, signed by Jane Withers, one of many largest youngster stars of the 1930s and 40s, exhibits her pledge of $150 to be deducted in $15 installments.

Jane Withers’ pledge card to Greek Conflict Aid from her Fox Studios wage.  

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When Hollywood Came to Greece’s Aid was final modified: December 27th, 2018 by Gregory Pappas