Archive for WW 2 Pin Up Girls

The World Book Dictionary defines pinup as: “Noun 1. A picture of a very attractive or famous person, pinned up on a wall, as in a barracks, usually by admirers who have not met the subject. 2. A very attractive girl, especially one considered attractive enough to be the subject of such a picture.”


Elyse Knox Yank Pin Up Girl October 20th 1944

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Elyse Knox - YANK Pin Up Girl October 20th, 1944

Born Elsie Lillian Kornbrath to Frederick and Elizabeth Kornbrath on December 14, 1917 in Hartford, Connecticut, she is not the daughter of U.S. Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, despite many modern sources suggesting she is. She studied at the Traphagen School of Fashion in Manhattan then embarked on a career in fashion design. Her good looks enabled her to model some of her own creations for Vogue magazine that led to a contract offer from Twentieth Century Fox film studio in 1937.

Knox performed mainly in minor or secondary roles until 1942 when she had a leading role with Lon Chaney, Jr. in “The Mummy’s Tomb”, one of the series of Mummy horror films made by Universal Studios. Knox appeared as herself in the Universal Studios 1944 production “Follow the Boys,” one of the World War II morale-booster films made for both the soldiers serving overseas as well as civilians at home. Knox also was a pin up girl during the War, appearing in such magazines as YANK, a weekly put out by the United States Military.

Yank Pin UP Elyse KnoxIn late 1945, she was signed by Monogram Pictures to portray Anne Howe, the love interest of fictional boxer Joe Palooka in “Joe Palooka, Champ”. Based on the very popular comic strip, the instant success of the May 1946 film led to Elyse Knox appearing in another five Joe Palooka productions. After acting in thirty-nine films, Elyse Knox retired in 1949 following her performance in the musical film “There’s a Girl in My Heart”.

Knox continued to do modeling work for print ads and while appearing on the Bing Crosby radio show she met football star Tom Harmon. They became engaged, but broke up when Harmon entered the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942. That year, Knox married fashion photographer Paul Hesse, who had shot many of her print ads and magazine covers. The marriage was brief. Following her divorce and Tom Harmon’s return from World War II (during which he survived two plane crashes and being lost in the jungle), she and Harmon married in 1944. Knox’s wedding dress was made from silk from the parachute Harmon used when bailing out of his crippled plane. The couple remained together until his death in 1990. They had three children, Kristin (b.1945), an actress and painter who at seventeen married recording artist Ricky Nelson and had Tracy, twins Gunnar and Matthew, and son Sam; Kelly (b. 1948), who modeled and also acted in film and television (TJ Hooker) and was once married to automaker John DeLorean; and Mark (b.1951), film and television actor who starred in films such as “The Presidio” and the current TV show “NCIS”.


Measurements: 34D-24-35

Brown – light eyes and Blonde hair.

She it the Mother-in-law of actress Pam Dawber.

Besides being married to a football star, Tom Harmon, her brother, Ron Knox, played quarterback for the Chicago Bears, and her son, Mark Harmon, was a star quarterback at UCLA.

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Marie McDonald YANK Pin Up 25 Aug 1944

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Marie McDonald YANK  25 Aug 1944

Marie McDonald - The BodyMarie McDonald, born Cora Marie Frye on July 6, 1923 in Burgin, Kentucky, was a leggy, voluptuous blonde starlet who pursued her career with a vengeance but found little reward in the end. Her mother was a former Ziegfeld girl and her grandmother an operatic singer. Her father, on the other hand, was not so artistically inclined, earning a living as a warden at Leavenworth Prison. Her parents divorced when Marie was just 6 years old.  Marie’s mother remarried and the new family moved to Yonkers, New York, where she attended Roosevelt High School and excelled in piano and wrote for the school newspaper.

Although Marie was offered a college scholarship by Columbia University in journalism, Marie’s impressive beauty and physical assets propelled her to try a show business career. A Powers model at 15 (she lied about her age), she quit high school and started entering beauty contests, winning the Miss Yonkers and The Queen of Coney Island titles, among others. In 1939 she was crowned Miss New York, but subsequently lost at the Miss America pageant.

Gorgeous Marie McDonalsThe attention she received from her beauty titles, however, pointed her straight to the Broadway stage and the George White’s Scandals of 1939.

This in turn led to her move to Los Angeles, finding work in the chorus line while trying to break into pictures. She found her first singing work with Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra on his radio show and eventually joined other bands as well. Although Universal signed her up, she couldn’t get past a few one-line jobs. She knew publicity would have to be her mode of operation if she was to draw the necessary attention and advance her career.

During World War II, McDonald became one of Hollywood’s most popular pin-up girls and she posed for the United States military magazine, YANK.

The Body and Yank Pin Up - Marie McDonaldPress agents dubbed Marie The Body and the tag eventually stuck. Though her physical attributes were impressive, her talent was less so. Managing to come her way were the films Guest in the House (1944), Living in a Big Way (1947) with Gene Kelly and Tell It to the Judge (1949). Marie was once in contention for the Billie Dawn role in Born Yesterday, which could have been her big break, but she lost out to Judy Holliday.  The audience simply didn’t latch on to Marie and she ended up more on the road doing bus-and-truck shows than anything else.

Despite a plethora of tabloid attention, which included her seven marriages and numerous sex scandals in addition to the publicity hijinks she

managed to muster up, notoriety that would have made the late Jayne Mansfield envious, Marie’s career eventually stalled and she turned to drink, drugs and despair. This led to frequent skirmishes with the law and more than a few nervous breakdowns. Her last effective role was in the Jerry Lewis starrer The Geisha Boy (1958) where she gamely played a snippy movie star at the mercy of the comedian’s outrageous slapstick. On October 21, 1965 (aged 42) at Calabasas, California, the never-say-die gal finally decided enough was enough and she ended it all with an overdose of Percodan.  She was laid to rest in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

Three months after McDonald’s death, her sixth husband Donald F. Taylor, who was a producer had occasionally acted under the name Don Taylor, committed suicide in January 1966. McDonald’s three surviving children were raised by Harry Karl and his wife, Debbie Reynolds.

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Colleen Townsend Yank Pin Up Girl

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Colleen Townsend Yank Pin Up

Collen Townsend*Shapely brunette Colleen Townsend was born on December 21, 1928 in the Los Angeles area and started her brief career as a Twentieth Century Fox starlet in 1947 at the age of eighteen. A Mormon at the time by choice, she had completed a year and a half at Brigham Young University in Utah when discovered by Hollywood scouts. For years she appeared unbilled in sentimental comedy before finally earning a featured role in the drama “The Walls of Jericho” (1948). By 1946, she was appearing on the cover of magazines. She was the subject of a cover story for Life in 1948, which discussed the way in which major studios groomed and manufactured their stars, using Townsend’s story as an example. The studio created a photographic calendar for her, to “put [her] face in every home, office and barracks in America all year around.” Hedda Hopper was also quoted as saying that Townsend was “going places.” She then appeared in two other pictures, the modest homespun comedy “Chicken Every Sunday” (1949) as the daughter of Dan Dailey and Celeste Holm, and, her better known, the war comedy “When Willie Comes Marching Home” (1950) with Dailey again and Corinne Calvet, before calling it quits.

Yank Pin UPIn 1950, Colleen abruptly changed the course of her life by devoting herself to religion. She abandoned Hollywood and began speaking at churches and Youth for Christ evangelistic events. She attended the San Francisco Theological Seminary and in 1950 married one of her fellow seminarians, Louis H. Evans, Jr. It is assumed she renounced Mormonism as her husband became pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Hollywood. In 1954, Colleen (Townsend) Evans returned to acting but in roles produced by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association — “Oiltown, U.S.A.” (1954) and “Souls in Conflict” (1955).

Colleen TownsendColleen has served as a pastor’s wife at churches from Southern California to Washington D.C. A strong advocate for human rights, she has consulted with the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Human Rights issues and has served on the boards of several ministries, including the Christian College Coalition and World Vision and International Justice Mission. She has served as the first female chair of a Billy Graham Crusade and continues to travel the country as a speaker and author of inspirational books, including “A New Joy” (1973) and “A Deeper Joy” (1982). She co-wrote “My Lover, My Friend” (1976) with husband Louis.

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Babara Bates WWII Yank Pin Up Girl June 1, 1945

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Barbara Bates - Featured Pin-up Girl in the Jun. 1, 1945 Issue of YANK, the Army Weekly

Barbara BatesBarbara Bates, a lovely, demure, but very troubled young spirit, began her career at age 19. Groomed in obscure starlet bits, it wasn’t until Warner Bros. signed her up in 1947 and perpetuated an appealing girl-next-door image that things started happening for her. Born the eldest of three daughters to a postal clerk on August 6, 1925 in Denver, Colorado, Barbara initially trained in ballet and modeled clothes as a teen. Fighting off a life-long paralyzing shyness, she nevertheless managed to be persuaded to enter a local Denver beauty contest with the winner receiving two round-trip train tickets to Tinseltown. Not only did she win but meeting husband-to-be Cecil Coan, a United Artist publicist, during that trip altered the course of Barbara’s life forever. Settling in Hollywood, it took some time before she started making decent strides as a bobbysoxer ingénue. During her peak she appeared opposite a number of impressive leading men and ladies including Bette Davis in “June Bride” (1948), Danny Kaye in “The Inspector General” (1949), Elizabeth Taylor in “Rhapsody” (1954), and even Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis in their laugh-inducing vehicle “The Caddy” (1953), to name a few. Interestingly, the one role Barbara will always be identified with is also one of the smallest parts given her during her brief tenure as leading lady. In the very last scene of “All About Eve” (1950), she turns up in the role of Phoebe, a devious school girl/wannabe actress who shows startling promise as a future schemer, goaded on by the equally ruthless star she idolizes, Eve Harrington, played by Anne Baxter. Barbara’s image is enshrined in the picture’s last scene — posing in front of a three-way mirror while holding Baxter’s just-received acting award. It is this brief, breathtaking moment for which she will always be remembered.

Lounging Barbara BatesBarbara’s on-and-off stage life started unraveling not long after. She became a victim of extreme mood shifts, insecurity, ill health and chronic depression to the point of being taken off two important movies during filming. By 1954, she was washed up in Hollywood. She tried to salvage her career in England and was picked up by the Rank Organization for a time but her films were mediocre and she proved too emotionally unreliable to continue. She finally abandoned her career altogether in 1957 and was not heard of until her death. It was learned that she had retreated to Denver and worked in various minor job capacities including stints as a secretary, dental assistant and hospital aide. Her much older husband and chief supporter, Cecil Coan, died of cancer in January of 1967, and Barbara fell apart. Although she remarried in December of 1968 to a childhood friend, sportscaster William Reed, she remained increasingly despondent and committed suicide just four months later in her mother’s garage by carbon monoxide poisoning. Another sad, tragic ending to a promising Hollywood beauty who seemed destined to have it all.

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WWII Yank Pin Up: Andrea King

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Andrea King - Featured Pin-up Girl in the Aug. 10, 1945 Issue of YANK, the Army Weekly

Sultry Andrea KingAndrea King was born Georgette André Barry in Paris, France, however she lived there only two months before her mother, Belle Hart, brought her back to the United States.

Belle was an ambulance driver on the front lines during World War I, as well as a dancer with the renowned Isadora Duncan. Andrea was raised in Forest Hills, New York, and Palm Beach, Florida, and adopted her stepfather’s surname of McKee when she began acting professionally at the age of 14.


Gorgeous Andrea King Pin UpPrior to signing with Warner Bros. in 1944, she appeared in three Broadway plays and two national companies, and managed to squeeze in her first screen appearance in The March of Time’s first feature-length film entitled “The Ramparts We Watch” (1940). After signing with Warner Bros. and changing her professional name, Andrea’s career took off very quickly, and she appeared in nine films in 18 months. She appeared un-credited in the Bette Davis film, “Mr. Skeffington” (1944).

The Warner Bros. studio photographers voted Andrea the most photogenic actress on the lot for the year 1945. Her first leading role came early on with “Hotel Berlin” (1945), and until she left the studio system in 1946, she continued on as a glamorous, often mysterious leading lady. King was originally cast to play Dr. Lilith Ritter in Edmund Goulding’s film noir classic “Nightmare Alley”, but she choose instead a memorable role as sophisticated Marjorie Lundeen in “Ride the Pink Horse” (1947).

Andrea King - Yank Pin UpThroughout the late 1940s and 1950s, she continued to work steadily in leading roles and “bad girl” second leads, and made many starring television appearances as well, most notably in the original 1953 live broadcast of “Witness for the Prosecution” for “Lux Video Theatre” (1950) opposite Edward G. Robinson. For her early work in television she received one of the first stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In the early 1950s, she moved away from films and began making many television appearances on such programs as “Fireside Theatre”, “Cheyenne”, “Dragnet”, “Mike Hammer”, “77 Sunset Strip”, “The Donna Reed Show” and Perry Mason. Andrea continued to make occasional TV and film appearances through the late 1990s, until shortly before her death on April 22, 2003 from natural causes at the age of 84.


Height: 5′ 5½” (1.66 m)

Spouse: Nat Willis (6 October 1940 – 27 July 1970) (his death) 1 child

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