It's the Greatest Radio Show You Never Heard!
Command Performance was a show that would be presented exclusively for service men and women, to their specifications, and based upon their "commands". The idea was simple yet brilliant, meeting the need that millions of service personnel had to feel special, recognized, and appreciated, as well as the desire of thousands of writers, performers, musicians, producers, and technicians to somehow contribute their own special talents to the war effort.
Command Performance was created in 1942 by radio producer Louis G. Cowan who was at the War Departments' Special Services Division. He knew that the show would have a very small budget - in fact, it would likely have no budget at all, thus he began by contacting the various show business unions. All quickly agreed to waive the union wage and conditional agreements of their members so long as the broadcasts were limited solely to military audiences.
It wasn’t long before “Command Performance” became THE radio show of the war years. Everyone who was anyone in show business wanted to make at least one appearance - and, to the relief of creator Louis Cowan and newly-appointed producer Vick Knight, they usually brought their writers along with them. Responding to an ever-increasing demand for movie stars, the show gradually moved from New York to Hollywood, occupying space at the Sunset Boulevard studios of CBS and NBC. And, in late 1943, it became the jewel in the crown of the Armed Forces Radio Service, a brand new division of the War Department that would exist solely to bring information, education, and information to military personnel throughout the world.
So take a trip back in time with “Command Performance” - a time when America was fighting another war in far off lands, when brave men and women risked their lives for our freedom, and when show business answered the call to entertain them. It’s an entertaining journey and also one that reminds us just how much we owe to those people who literally fought to save the world during World War II. We know it's a trip you’ll want to take time and time again in twelve original broadcasts of Command Performance, Volume 2 and restored to sparkling digital quality.
#98 Host Fred Allen
with Ginny Simms, Lauritz Melchior, Golden Gate Quartet, Benny Goodman Orchestra, and Gypsy Rose Lee
Recorded Monday, December 20, 1943 - 30:00 - War Department, Special Services
#102 Host Bob Hope
with Benny Goodman Orchestra, Dennis Day, Joan Leslie, and Deanna Durbin
Recorded Saturday, January 22, 1944 - 30:00 - War Department, Special Services
#107 Hostess Loretta Young
with Frances Langford, Ginny Simms, Connie Boswell, and Larry Adler
Recorded Saturday, February 19, 1944 - 30:00 - War Department, Special Services
#118 Host Bob Hope
with Bing Crosby, Betty Hutton, and Gypsy Rose Lee
Recorded Saturday, May 6, 1944 - 30:00 - War Department, Special Services
#119 Host Jerry Colonna
with Helen Forrest, Frances Langford, Dinah Shore, Lena Horne, and announcer Ken Carpenter
Recorded Saturday, May 13, 1944 - 30:00 - War Department, Special Services
#124 Hostess Bette Davis
with Marilyn Maxwell, Arti Shaw, Jimmy Durante, Jose Iturbi, and Nancy Walker
Recorded Saturday, June 10, 1944 - 30:00 - War Department, Special Services
#130 Host Ronald Colman
with Ginny Simms, Ida Lupino, Dame Mae Whitty, Cary Grant, Sir Aubrey Smith, and Reggie Gardner
Recorded Saturday, July 22, 1944 - 30:00 - War Department, Special Services
#133 Host Spencer Tracy
with Lois Butler, Johnny Mercer, Cass Daley, Jo Stafford, and Pied Pipers & June
Recorded Saturday, August 12, 1944 - 30:00 - War Department, Special Services
#135 Host Fred Allen
with Portland Hoffa, Eddie Anderson, Paul Lucas, Ginny Simms, Charlie Cantor, Alan Reed, Martha Mears, John Brown, Harry Von Zell, and Bombadiers
Recorded Saturday, August 26, 1944 - 30:00 - War Department, Special Services
#143 Host Eddie Cantor
with Loumell Morgan Trio, Vera Vague, Janet Blair, Billy Gilbert, Danny Thomas, Corinna Mura, Mora Lou Martin, Lou Merrill, and Lt. Don Ryerson
Recorded Saturday, October 21, 1944 - 30:00 - War Department, Special Services
#156 Host Jack Benny
with Orson Welles, Ernst Lubitsch, Greer Garson, Santa Ana Swing Wing, and John Brown
Recorded Saturday, December 30, 1944 - 30:00 - War Department, Special Services
#158 Hosts George Burns & Gracie Allen
with C. Aubrey Smith, Connie Haines, Dame May Whitty, Joseph Lilly Chorus, Rafael Mendez, and announcer Ken Carpenter
Recorded Thursday, January 18, 1945 - 30:00 - War Department, Special Services