News & Entertainment

Newspapers served as a critical source of information for civilians during the war. Dozens of other American radio, wire service and newspaper journalists filed their reports from the battlefields embedded with military units throughout the European and Pacific fronts. Most Texas newspapers' war coverage came from the Associated Press and United Press war services.1

Comic strips provided both amusement and political commentary. Popular strips of the time included "Gasoline Alley," "Little Orphan Annie," "Donald Duck," "Mutt and Jeff," and "Joe Palooka."2

Not surprisingly, books and magazines also proved a popular diversion during the war years. Consumers gravitated toward escapist fiction, particularly romance, religion stories and humor, as well as nonfiction books of history, current events and technical subjects.3

Movies were extremely popular with an average of 85 million movie tickets sold per week.4 Tickets were relatively inexpensive and, it was an affordable pastime for most people. Yet even in the darkness of movie theaters, people could not escape the reality of war. Films were preceded by Pathé newsreels of international news, a practice that peaked during the war years.5 The movies often showed a slogan on the screen urging moviegoers to buy war stamps in the theater lobby.6


Jewel Theater (Photo by Johnny Mitchell)

But it was the ubiquitous radio, which reached 90 percent of the population, that served as the most common source of news, entertainment and propaganda. People listened to the authoritarian voice of newsman Edward R. Murrow, who often reported from the front lines.7

Comedies, dramas, adventures, soap operas and variety shows were an everyday part of life. During the day, soaps such as "Guiding Light," "Young Dr. Malone" and "Our Gal Sunday" broadcast on the airwaves. In the evenings, families listened to the comic riffs of Edgar John Bergen and his puppet, Charlie McCarthy in "Bergen and McCarthy" or the spooky stories of "Inner Sanctum Mystery." Musical variety shows included "Western Serenade" and "Alexander's Variety Hour."8

FDR began his popular fireside chats in 1933 as a way of convincing the nation to support the New Deal initiatives. He continued these chats throughout World War II to inform citizens and keep up morale. The Office of War Information supplied popular radio performers with patriotic messages to be broadcast to their listeners.9

The Office of War Information supplied popular radio performers with patriotic messages to be broadcast to their listeners. "Nigel Bruce, in his best Dr. Watson voice, urged his audience to buy war bonds at the end of an episode of 'Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,' writes Carolyn Barnes in the essay "The Words & Pictures of War.' 'Fibber McGee and Molly' helped the drive for skilled workers by reminding their listeners, 'It's your sons of toil that'll help put those Nazis under tons of soil.'"10

Citations

1Lee, James Ward, Barnes, Carolyn N., Bowman, Ken A., & Crow, Laura. (Eds.). (1991). 1941: Texas goes to war. Denton, TX: University of North Texas Press, 108.

2Ibid., 210.

3Lee, James Ward, Barnes, Carolyn N., Bowman, Ken A., & Crow, Laura. (Eds.). (1991). 1941: Texas goes to war. Denton, TX: University of North Texas Press, 211.

4Ibid., 101.

5Casdorph, Paul D. (1989). Let the good times roll: Life at home in American during WWII. New York, NY: Paragon House, 22.

6Lee, James Ward, Barnes, Carolyn N., Bowman, Ken A., & Crow, Laura. (Eds.). (1991). 1941: Texas goes to war. Denton, TX: University of North Texas Press, 89.

7Ibid., 99.

8Ibid., 196-197.

9Ibid., 99-100.

10Ibid.