Monday, May 14, 2012

RIP Margie Stewart

Margie Stewart 1919 - 2012

By T. Rees Shapiro
May 8The Washington Post

Margie Stewart, the mahogany-haired ingenue who graced millions of
morale-boosting posters during World War II as the U.S. military’s
official pinup, died of pneumonia April 26 at a hospital in Burbank,
Calif. She was 92.

The death was confirmed by her son, Stephen Johnson.

Miss Stewart was a department store model and movie starlet before she
was named “Uncle Sam’s Poster Girl” by the War Department in the early
1940s. She appeared in more than a dozen patriotic posters distributed
by the tens of millions to troops during World War II.

Unlike the barracks wall artwork featuring the leggy Betty Grable, the
buxom Jane Russell or the sultry Ann Sheridan, Miss Stewart’s
government-issue posters promoted more wholesome values. The most skin
Miss Stewart’s modest poses revealed were her bare ankles in low
heels. In many of her posters, she wore long pants.

But her pretty “girl-next-door” appeal proved immensely popular with
the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen abroad.

“The other pinup girls are dream girls in the most unsubstantial sense
of the expression,” Cpl. John Haverstick wrote in a 1945 issue of
Yank, a weekly military magazine. “A dream is about the only place
most of us are likely to run up against the typical glamour
photographer’s ideal of a lassie with legs eight feet long, bust 58
inches, waist 20, hips 20, and long, red-gold hair. Margie is a little
closer to home.”

He continued: “She looks like a good girl friend or a good young
wife . . . like the dream you not only want to go on dreaming but the
one which might continue after you wake up.”

Miss Stewart’s pinups often featured her writing letters to a beau
deployed overseas, always signing the notes “Love, Margie.”

In one poster, she looks longingly into the camera — with her cherry
lips ever so slightly parted — while a letter below her says, “Of
course waiting is hard — don’t I know!” and encourages troops to save
money for a future home.

For another, her wistful face is framed by the words: “Please . . .
get there and BACK! Be careful what you say or write.”

Miss Stewart became so adored among troops that she was sent to Europe
on a goodwill tour to promote war bonds. While visiting troops in
Germany, France, Britain and Belgium, she was accompanied by a
handsome Army captain. They fell in love and were married by the mayor
of Paris in 1945.

Announcing the news of her nuptials, the Stars and Stripes newspaper
blared the headline: “Margie, It Hurts to Print This.”

Margie Stewart was born Dec. 14, 1919, in Wabash, Ind. She attended
Indiana University and was elected Freshman Princess before she
pursued a career in modeling and film. She earned $75 a week as an
actress for RKO studios, and appeared in films such as “The Falcon
Strikes Back” (1943) starring Tom Conway and “Bombardier” (1943) with
Randolph Scott.

During a stint in Chicago she was spotted by advertising executive
Russell Stone, a retired Army major. Through Stone’s Pentagon
contacts, Miss Stewart was tapped to pose for the military pinups.

She retired from modeling after the war and lived with her husband,
Jerry Johnson, in Studio City, Calif. Together, they helped produce
concerts at the Hollywood Bowl for acts such as the Beatles and the
Beach Boys. In her spare time, she volunteered at the UCLA Medical
Center.

Her husband of 57 years died in 2003. Survivors include a son, Stephen
Johnson of Woodland Hills, Calif.; and three grandchildren.

Miss Stewart said more than 94 million of her posters were sent around
the world during the war but that Eleanor Roosevelt was not a fan. She
said the first lady tried to ban the artwork because she feared Miss
Stewart was making the troops a little too homesick.

STEWART, Margie (Margery Stewart)
Born: 12/14/1919, Wabash, Indiana, U.S.A.
Died: 4/26/2012, Burbank, California, U.S.A.

Margie Stewart's western - actress:
Nevada - 1944 (dancer)

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