The United Service Organizations Inc. (USO) is a private, nonprofit organization that provides morale and recreational services to members of the U.S. military, with programs in 140 centers worldwide. During World War II, the USO became the G.I.’s “home away from home,” and began a tradition of entertaining the troops that continues today. After it was disbanded in 1947, it was revived in 1950 for the Korean War, after which it also provided peacetime services.
The organization became particularly famous for its live performances called Camp Shows, through which the entertainment industry helped boost the morale of its servicemen and women. Hollywood in general was eager to show its patriotism, and lots of big names joined the ranks of USO entertainers.
At its high point in 1944, the USO had more than 3,000 clubs, and curtains were rising on USO shows 700 times a day. From 1941 to 1947, the USO presented more than 400,000 performances, featuring entertainers such as Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Frank Sinatra, Marlene Dietrich, Hattie McDaniel, Eubie Blake, Ann Sheridan, Laurel and Hardy, The Marx Brothers, Jack Benny, Larry Adler,Zero Mostel, James Cagney, James Stewart, Gary Cooper, Doraine and Ellis, Danny Kaye, The Rockettes, Al Jolson, Fred Astaire, Curly Joe DeRita,The Andrews Sisters, Joe E. Brown, Joe E. Lewis, Ray Bolger, Lucille Ball, Glenn Miller, Martha Raye, Mickey Rooney, Betty Hutton, Dinah Shore, and most famously, Bob Hope.