On September 24, 1942, four visiting entertainers were the main attraction at a “Star Victory” luncheon at the Bloomington Consistory (now the Center for Performing Arts). The luncheon was a way to say “thanks” to area residents who purchased $100 or more in bonds to support the war effort against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.
The photograph above shows luncheon organizer Gil C. Brown (far left) welcoming special guests (left to right) Gayle Mellott, Buddy Ebsen, Gloria Grahame, and Skeets Gallagher. They’re at the Alton Railroad passenger station on Bloomington’s west side, having arrived from Chicago. Ebsen’s dog Hobo was in on the act, demonstrating how he’d “extinguish” Adolf Hitler. “Anyone who has ever taken a dog for a walk will understand,” quipped The Pantagraph.
Mellott and Gallagher had unexceptional careers, but Ebsen and Grahame would make their mark in Hollywood and (in the case of Ebsen) television. Best known today for the long-running shows “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Barnaby Jones,” Ebsen was an accomplished dancer (he’s the hoofer in the photo above) whose early silver screen credits include “Born to Dance” (1936). Gloria Grahame (she was Gloria Hallward in 1942) would go on to star in some of the toughest film noirs, including “Crossfire” (1947) and “The Big Heat” (1953).
July 17th, 2014