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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Saludos Amigos: 1943

Saludos Amigos: 1943

March 1943. "New York, N.Y. Times Square on a rainy day." Now playing: Disney's "Saludos Amigos." Afterward we can grab a bite at the Automat. Medium format negative by John Vachon, Office of War Information. View full size.

On Shorpy:
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I'm surprised that no one commented on the presence of the WAAC recruitment centre on the left.

That empty billboard

was just waiting to be used.

Ina Ray Hutton

It is true that Ina Ray Hutton is most famous for her all-girl orchestra (as it was described at the time) The Melodears, but that group broke up in 1939. According to an article in The Guardian she then recruited an all-male band because she was tired of the Melodears being regarded exclusively as a novelty act. The male band, which is the one that would have been playing the at the Strand, lasted until 1946.

What probably would have shocked a lot of people, including the management at the Strand, and maybe even a few of her own band members was that Ina Ray Hutton, and her sister, singer June Hutton, were Black women passing as White.

Off Broadway

The Globe Theatre was unusual as it had two entrances. The one shown the photo was on Broadway, inside it hooked a left and joined with rest of the building on 46th St. It is visible in the picture to the left of the WAAC sign. That venue still exists as the 1500 seat Lunt Fontanne Theatre, a major Broadway legitimate (live) stage. The current attraction is a new production "Motown,The Musical" .

At the Central (behind the umbrella)

John Vachon took a third photo that day that includes an unobstructed view of the marquee of The Central. The Shubert-owned theatre was showing two forgettable films, released years earlier by B-movie king Monogram Pictures: "The Marines are Here" (released in 1938) and "Drums of the Desert" (released in 1940). The Central's former lobby is now the Roxy delicatessen.


Thanks for the link to the video. Definitely worth watching. It has the usual Disney didacticism, but surprisingly good music.

And Times Square still has an armed forces recruitment center, thought it's for all services, and one block further south now.


The automats were great.

Major features: fast, clean, no tips.

Hotel Billboard

E, your father's W.

1938 Dodge

The truck is a 1938 Dodge panel truck. This appears to be the shorter 7 foot body, but there was also a longer 9 foot body available.

The Dodge Truck book by Don Bunn states, " . . . Dodge again built the industry's only distinctive double-level panel. This unit was rated for a maximum GVW of 4,000lb. A single folding driver's seat was upholstered in durable vinyl upholstry. A helper's seat was optional. The roof of the load compartment was the French inserted type, that is, a soft waterproofed material in place of all-steel. All doors were standard with locks. A dome light in the center of the body clearly illuminated the entire interior."

Meanwhile At 47th Street

On the far right of the photo is the Strand Theatre,which later became the Warner Theatre, a 3000 seat movie/vaudeville house. The stage show at that time featured Ina Ray Hutton and her all girl orchestra. The bill also included Jane Wyman, a very talented actress and entertainer who at the time of this picture was married to our future President, Ronald Reagan. The show also featured comedian Jerry Lester. He was the first host of NBC's Tonight Show preceding SteveAllen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and Leno once again.

Before there was a Chuck E Cheese

When I was a little girl, my father would take me to the Automat, when we visited a big city. (They were in both New York and Philadelphia.) They were 1920s and 1930s history come to life. He would give me a handful of nickels and dimes from his pocket and let me go buy anything from the industrial wonder machine of the Automat, that my first grade heart desired. When you put a nickel in the slot, it let you open the door and take out pies, cookies, fruit, or entrees. Their macaroni and cheese was the best.

But the machines weren't really vending machines at all. They were shelves with doors and turntables. If you watched after you took your pie slice out, a person came and put a new one in that shelf space. It was totally done by people on the other side of the wall. They only pretended you were being served by machines. But even so, it was gleaming art deco wonderment. Looking at this picture reminds we of all the chrome and tables, and excitement that was the Automat from the 1920s through the 1960s.

Humpback panel truck

'37 Dodge? Help me out here.

Hotel Edison

Cool to see the Hotel Edison in the background. Stayed there on a visit in 2002.

Deja vu, Saludos Amigos

This shot rang a bell for me. Same scene, different angle, was on Shorpy some time ago - rainy day, Times Square, "Saludos Amigos" was playing.

Flat-panel display

The large blank billboard looks like a modern flat-panel display screen. But, small rounded TV screens are still years away!

[There were a few thousand TV sets already in use in 1943, mostly in the Northeast. - Dave]

At the Movies

Saludos Amigos was one of two projects that Disney undertook at the behest of the US government, the other being The Three Caballeros. The project involved Walt Disney and a group of Disney artists and composer traveling to South America as part of a goodwill tour of the region to counter Nazi influences there (although there is a rumour that a secondary reason for tour was to get the virulently anti-union Disney out of town so that the 1941 Disney Strike could be resolved). Their impressions of the region were then turned into cartoons featuring Donald Duck, Goofy and Mickey Mouse. It has been stated that Saludos Amigos "did more to cement a community of interest between peoples of the Americas in a few months than the State Department had in fifty years." The film runs only 42 minutes but is classified as a feature by Disney historians.

Can't see what's on at the Central (darned inconsiderate people insisting on having their umbrellas up on a rainy day!) but at the Strand we have "The Hard Way" with Ida Lupino, Joan Leslie and Dennis Morgan as well as Jack Carson (whose name doesn't make it onto the big sign). It was the second of seven movies that Morgan and Carson would make together. Also on the bill there are live appearances by Ina Ray Hutton and her (all-male) orchestra, Jane Wyman, singer and actress Irene Manning, and comedian Jerry Lester.

Saludos Amigos!

Wow, this is just a great really fun image to explore, so much to see, look at and research, if you like doing those things like I do.

Two things in the plethora of nostalgia for me that stand out.

I have always loved Walt Disney, so I was drawn to Saludos Amigos, that is playing at the Globe Theater.

Which I found on You Tube, for our viewing pleasure:

One of the other things I see, is that Old Shipmate with the Big Grin reflecting just how much he is enjoying that Camel.

And in that act, showing how we could too, be as happy as a Sailor on shore leave, if we were smoking one along with him.

Just a great and humorous sign seen from today's perspective.

I am sure in this day and age of healthcare mania that the Department of Defense, which would have been the War Department back in March of 1943, would surely frown upon that Sailor being used in the advertisement of such a dangerous product.

However, I am sure that Old Shipmate would get a kick out of the Sarcasm with which I am trying my best to convey in describing his participation.

Just a Great Image, love the WAAC signage too.

Now to go and watch Saludos Amigos!


Below is the same view from August of 2009.

Not Much Traffic

Wartime fuel/tire restrictions seem to have thinned the traffic to a bearable level for those pedestrians well equipped with raingear.

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