Jane was 20 years old when this photo of her wearing a men’s sports coat was snapped in August 1941. The copywriter seemed to be low on info when describing the V-neck as standing for “victory,” and the coat being the latest beachwear fashion.
In April 1941, Jane visited Camp Roberts for an Army Day Celebration that included an NBC radio broadcast. I love this snapshot of her during the visit and used it in the book.
As the U.S. was bracing itself for war, Jane served as a morale booster for service members by making personal appearances. Here’s a snapshot of her in June of 1941 while visiting March Field in Riverside.
Jane’s popularity with military members resulted in her being bequeathed with many titles. In September of 1941, she visited the U.S. Naval Reserve Aviation Base at Long Beach where she was honored as the “Keep ‘Em Flying Girl.” Here, she is shown with fellow actor Wayne Morris who was serving as a recruiting officer at the time.
Jane was an immediate hit with members of the armed forces, even before the U.S. entered World War II. Here she is getting boosted (or pretending to be boosted) into a military plane in August 1941.
Here’s one last photo of Jane during her visit to San Diego State College in August 1942. The trip ended up being a marketing bust, as media outlets did not pick up on it like publicist Russell Birdwell hoped.
Here’s another image of Jane visiting San Diego State College in the summer of 1942 where she was named “Sagebrush Sweetheart” of the school’s annual Blue Book Ball. Not sure why she’s being presented with a giant spoon!
Today marks ten years that Jane left this world, a few months shy of her 90th birthday. Even though she never aggressively chased film stardom, it came to her almost as if it were predestined. In her later years she embraced her role as a living legend and was very generous with her time when asked to sit for interviews, make personal appearances, or contribute forwards to books. Her association with Howard Hughes and Marilyn Monroe often overshadowed much of what she accomplished both onscreen and as an adoption advocate, but she was always loyal to both and gracious answered the same questions asked about Hughes and Monroe over and over…and over.
I recall seeing Jane at a collector show, signing autographs a number of years back. I have to admit I was too intimidated to speak with her. What the hell could I say that she hadn’t already heard a thousand times? Instead, I stood off to the side and gawked for a little while, amazed I was sharing the same space with this person who still seemed larger than life to me. I do regret not speaking with her, even though I probably would have felt like a bumbling fool.
I never expected to write an entire book about Jane, but I am grateful to have had the experience. I hope you will join me in raising a virtual glass to Jane on this day.
In August of 1942, students at San Diego State College successfully appealed to publicist Russell Birdwell’s sense of showmanship by launching a campaign to have Jane travel south to attend their annual Blue Book Ball. Here’s Jane on campus with some of the students.
Since the weekend is finally upon us, here’s an unguarded image of Jane having some fun for the cameras in 1941. I don’t know for sure, but this looks like it might be in the Fern Dell section of Griffith Park, one of the many joys of my beloved Los Angeles. Happy Friday!