was not only an iconic 1950’s through 1970’s television star but also one devoted to supporting American soldiers overseas during World War Two. So, much so, that she volunteered to act as our answer to Tokyo Rose. For those who are unaware, Tokyo Rose operated in the Pacific broadcasting Japanese radio propaganda to create disillusionment among American soldiers and hopefully result in mass surrenders. Axis Sally did the same in Europe.
Dinah started to build a following on the radio in the 1930’s with her “the-girl-next-door” personality.
By the early 1940’s, she was an excellent female singer and foil for Eddie Cantor on his top rated radio show. Although she was pleasant enough to look at, she was very self-conscious about her appearance which showed in the few movies she did. She decided, therefore, to focus thereafter only on radio and subsequently on television.
After World War Two broke out, she took advantage of increasing radio exposure by performing on Armed Forces shortwave broadcasts. She was so affected by the letters she received from soldiers overseas, that she felt it important to make a statement and go where the action was- the European Theater of Operations- as the U.S. Army pushed their way to the Rhine River and a foothold into Germany.
In one thirty day period, Dinah claimed she slept in a real bed maybe twice, the rest of the time experiencing the same conditions as the soldiers she entertained. When asked, she readily accepted the request to record songs in German (which she spoke by reading the phonetic spelling on cue cards) and speak words to the Germans soldiers advising them to surrender or never be able to go home and see their loved ones. In fact, during one of her field performances for a group of U.S. soldiers, she was advised that sentries posted to check for snipers found one sitting high atop a tree in a daze listening to her sing rather than pointing a rifle in her direction. When captured, the German soldier said that he just wanted to hear the Fraulein sing as he had in her propaganda broadcasts.
Male baby boomers of draft age during the Viet Nam era knew it was a different type of war, but compare Dinah’s brand of American loyalty to that which Jane Fonda exhibited. Fonda put together stage shows to lure American soldiers stateside and convince them to rethink their actions if sent to Viet Nam. In April, 1972, she visited the capitol of North Viet Nam, Hanoi, and made disparaging remarks about how the U.S. Army targeted civilian sites. This would have been akin to an American going to Berlin in 1945 and talk how evil President Roosevelt was for allowing the city of Dresden to be destroyed. Fonda made several broadcasts in Hanoi deploring American leaders as “war criminals.” She also allegedly said that American prisoners of war lied about being tortured and if they did, they deserved it as the things they did warranted severe punishment.
Ironically, Jane and Dinah were long time friends and Jane guested on Dinah’s daytime talk show in 1976. You can see a picture of this event by clicking below: